Satanic Temple sues Arizona city to lead city council prayer
A group that invokes the name Satan as a metaphor for opposing religious tyranny has sued the well-off Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, accusing officials of discrimination after being denied an opportunity to give the opening prayer at a City Council meeting.
Michelle Shortt of the Satanic Temple of Tucson was scheduled to preside over the council’s invocation in July 2016. But the city canceled it, saying it would keep with tradition in allowing prayer only from groups with substantial ties to Scottsdale.
According to the lawsuit filed this week in federal district court in Arizona, the Satanic Temple wasn’t asked about community ties when it applied by phone to give the prayer. The group is asking a judge to find the city in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free speech and to prevent the city from denying prayer opportunities to non-Christian religious groups.
“Once you open a public forum to religion, you can’t then decide which ones you like best to represent in that public forum,” said the temple’s attorney, Stuart de Haan.