SAHUARITA, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona chapter of the Satanic Temple will not give the invocation at the September 9 Sahuarita town council meeting.
This comes after Sahuarita Mayor Tom Murphy announced a change in the invocation policy.
A media release states:
“Beginning with the meeting of February 5, 2019, leadership from the Town will present the traditional invocation before each regular meeting of the Town Council. Mayor Tom Murphy announced the new policy on Jan. 28. ‘A different member of town leadership will be selected to give the invocation prior to each meeting,’ Murphy said. ‘These are the men and women who are leading the Town and its employees into a new and exciting decade of service to our citizens.’ Sahuarita Town Code gives the Mayor responsibility for setting the format of the Agenda.”
The invocation at the Sahuarita town council would have been the first invocation for the chapter in Arizona.
Stu de Haan, an attorney for the Arizona chapter, said this is the third rejection they’ve received.
“We’ve made it very clear that there is nothing nefarious going on. That were just exercising our first amendment rights like any other religious organization," de Hann said.
The chapter was not allowed to give the invocation at the Phoenix city council meeting.
“In Phoenix they shut down the whole program. They changed the system entirely to discriminate against us," de Haan said.
The chapter was denied again in Scottsdale.
“We actually sued them in federal court for religious discrimination because it is a public forum so they have to honor the first amendment rights of a religious organization," de Haan said.
Three years ago, the Arizona chapter was put on a wait list to give the invocation at the Sahuarita town council meeting.
De Haan said the town reached out to them last December.
“Like clockwork, they sent us an email saying ‘Hey, we’re ready for you.’ And we accepted," de Haan said.
On Thursday, de Haan said the head of the chapter received an email from the town clerk, notifying her that the policy on invocations will change starting February 25.
According to de Haan it’s not clear right now what the chapter’s next steps will be.
However, they will not be submitting any more requests to give innovations until the lawsuit with the City of Scottsdale is figured out.