TST-AZ Moves Closer to Possible Action in Invocation Campaign

The Satanic Temple’s Arizona chapter was basically founded around Michelle Shortt and Stu De Haan’s attempts to give Satanic invocations in Phoenix and Scottsdale, sparking a national and international debate over the constitutional imperatives of prayers at public meetings. When Scottsdale denied their invocation request after initially accepting it there were immediate questions as to whether their response passed legal muster.

There’s been a lot of behind the scenes activity since then. Working with the collaborative news site Muckrock, TST-AZ has been scouring through Scottsdale city council emails obtained by a freedom of information act request to find information that may be useful if/when any legal actions are taken. For example, in one such email a member of Scottsdale’s city council claimed it was “absurd” that TST’s religious rights are protected by the first amendment. In another, a different councilperson said that allowing TST to give an invocation was “taking equality too far”.

When Scottsdale rejected the invocation TST was told that “”The city is not going to deviate from its long standing practice of having the invocation given only by representatives from institutions that have a substantial connection to the Scottsdale community.” No one is sure what constitutes a “substantial connection”, TST was never asked to demonstrate whether or not such a connection exists, nor was there any such guideline stipulated in the city’s invocation application. As of right now it is indeterminate if/when there may be more movement on this story, but TST-AZ’s spokesperson Stu De Haan will be part of a church/state separation panel discussion this Friday on the live-streaming podcast Progressive Voices of Arizona. I would be surprised if the issue didn’t at least come up.

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