Inweekly received the following press release. We have confirmed with City Council Executive Don Kraher.
He wrote, “David Suhor with the Satanic Temple will be providing the invocation.”
A representative of The Satanic Temple West Florida (TSTWF) will deliver the invocation at the July meeting of the Pensacola City Council. That group has also been recognized as an official chapter of The Satanic Temple, a national organization.
TSTWF is an atheistic group, but invokes the example of the mythical Satan for his encouragement of free will, knowledge and rebellion against dogmatic authoritarianism – especially in government circles. They have been active promoting reason, self-determination, separation of church and state, and religious freedom. More information about the Satanic Temple, its tenets, and activities is available at www.thesatanictemple.com.
Consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s direction, the City Council cannot dictate religious viewpoints or the content of a prayer. In addition, government bodies who lead prayers may not discriminate to exclude a denomination or a religion to be included.
Davidas, who will deliver the invocation said: “We are honored that the City Council will finally allow our group to give an invocation. We wish they had a policy that removed discretion from the choosing of invocations, but at least they are opening up to one less-popular religious viewpoint.” He went on to say “unfortunately, other local boards – namely the County Commission, School Board and ECUA – will not answer our requests. Like the City, they have no official prayer policy. They practice censorship and religious discrimination more blatantly – allowing prayers only by religions they approve of.”
The Satanic Temple West Florida was recently granted chaptership status by the Satanic Temple’s national organization. “Like the invocation, this is a milestone for our community. We hope our chapter will make a difference by counteracting imaginary supernatural influence in area politics.” said Davidas. one of the chapter’s founders. “We want our government to stop pandering to the dominant religion and take a neutral stance, as demanded by our Constitution.” The Satanic Temple West Florida also supports relocation of the Bayview Cross – something it called “an exclusive endorsement of Christianity on public property, supported by tax dollars”.
The City Council meets on Thursday, July 14th, with the invocation occurring at 5:30 p.m.
The Satanic Temple West Florida does not seek followers, but welcomes collaborators in their mission. They can be contacted at www.facebook.com/tstwf.