Floridians may soon be hearing a Satanic prayer at a public meeting if one determined man from Deerfield Beach gets his way.
Chaz Stevens, the same man behind Florida's beer-can Festivus pole last holiday season, is now petitioning for a Satanic prayer at the next town council meeting -- or even at a session of the Florida Senate, reports The Huffington Post.
Does Stevens have a legal leg to stand on for his Satanic suggestion? Or is he just playing devil's advocate?
Satanic Prayer Petition Follows U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
Likely what prompted this sudden renewed interest in the intersection between government and Satanism was the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway. The ruling upheld a New York town's practice of opening town council meetings with a sectarian prayer, and it appears that Stevens wants to test that ruling.
Stevens told The Raw Story that he used to be a "Pabstfestidian" -- referring to his Festivus pole made of beer cans -- but now has converted to Satanism because he wants to "drink beer and hang with hookers." Critics may point out that Stevens and others like him have no genuine interest or faith in Satanism, and that this petition for Satanic prayer is merely a ploy to criticize the church/state boundary.
Those less cynical might suggest that religious minorities are simply exercising the same privileges the Christian majority has long enjoyed in American government. This same ethos is underpinning a Satanic statue display in front of Oklahoma's State Capitol building -- one that is still being considered.
If the Ten Commandments are OK, then why not a sculpture that inspires Satanic believers? And if Christian prayers can open a town hall meeting, then why not a Satanic verse?
Dear Deerfield Beach...
Although Stevens' motives may be suspect, his request for a Satanic prayer should be taken seriously. Part of the reason the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the town of Greece's sponsoring of sectarian prayer at public meetings was the potential for any religious denomination to speak. And technically, that should include Satanism.
According to The Raw Story, Stevens' letter to the City of Deerfield Beach cited the Supreme Court's recent ruling and asked to open a "Commission meeting praying for my God, my divine spirit, my Dude in Charge." He also added "[b]e advised, I am a Satanist."
Some prisoners have had a rough time attempting to practice Satanism while incarcerated, but maybe Stevens will have more luck in Deerfield Beach.
- After Supreme Court prayer decision, Satanist offers his own prayer (Los Angeles Times)
- Therapist Sued for Fake Satanic Cult Memories (FindLaw's Injured)
- Supreme Ct.'s City Council Prayer Ruling: 5 Things to Know (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Is 'Vote Satan' Theft a Sign of Hate Crime? (FindLaw's Legally Weird)