By DavidCharlesFLA (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By DavidCharlesFLA (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Satanist Chaz Stevens believes that it is a violation of his constitutional rights.

The City of Coral Springs, Florida, has been practicing the age-old practice of offering a short, respectful prayer before the starting of all commission meetings and prior to discussing any kind of official business matters related to the city.

Back in June, Chaz Stevens, a Satanist, had tried to get in touch with the City asking to offer a satanic prayer. Stevens was told there are openings available, but they were reviewing their policies on speakers and would have to get back to him. His prayer was never scheduled.

After several months, Stevens directly contacted Mayor Campbell and questioned him about his request to offer prayers before a commission meeting when enough slots were clearly available. Campbell’s response was “Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Our City attorney is researching the issue and has not given his opinion yet.”

A lawyer from the atheist group, Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), Andrew L. Seidel, alerted the city with a letter informing them about the injustice of the policy followed by them and also warned them of legal action. The Satanist, Stevens believes that is a violation of his constitutional rights and simply outrageous because he was not permitted to have his three minutes of prayer time.

This prompted the Coral Springs City Commission in Florida to put an end to invocations at various meetings. This is only because of Stevens' requested to participate. There was a delay in response by the city officials to Chaz’s request for a long while and finally an announcement was made that beginning on October 1, nobody will invoke blessings prior to meetings.

According to Mayor Skip Campbell, the United States Supreme Court passed a decision which states that any city that permits prayer before meetings must mandatorily permit all prayer. And Coral Springs is bound by this decision. Therefore Coral Springs has taken the decision that it is better to put an end to all kinds of religious prayers instead of facing possible legal action, which will be the case if it denies one religion the right to pray before official city meetings.

The general opinion is that it wasn’t the wisest decision to have an invocation before the meetings in the first place. The commissioners clearly cannot welcome alien views and therefore should have avoided the prayer offering in the beginning itself.

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