After Satanic Temple Scuffle, Phoenix Votes to Bring Back Public Prayer (with Limitations)

By Visitor7 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Phoenix council brings back public prayer before meetings, but it can only be led by a police or fire chaplain.

A recent decision has been reversed and the Phoenix council has once again voted to bring prayers back to their council meetings. This comes after a 7-2 vote that was completed on Wednesday.

There was backlash in early February when it was discovered a member of The Satanic Temple was scheduled to deliver an invocation. The group held a vote and decided to do away with the 65-year tradition of a public prayer before meetings and replaced it with simply a moment of silence. Wednesday this decision was reversed and it was decided to bring prayer back, but the public prayer is to be led by Phoenix Police or Fire Department chaplains only.

According to Sal DiCicco, one of the famous dissenters, having prayers being conducted by either fire or police chaplains is a great win for Phoenix. He said, "Approving Public Prayer at City Council meetings was a big win for Phoenix. It has been a tough fight to keep prayer at our meetings, and I am happy for all of our community. The Phoenix City Council reversed the Phoenix Mayor and City Council’s previous decision to ban a 65-year tradition of prayer at our council meetings without notice to the public. Under the new rule, we will have a prayer from a chaplain from the Phoenix Police or Fire departments."

Conducting a public prayer at the commencement of official city council meetings will not only reflect as a tradition, but it is the gateway to law. It was advocated to replace the earlier proposal of having a moment of silence by four councilmen instead of prayers.

Many followers of the Satanic Temple expressed their reactions to the newly proposed amendment, and they had warned to move to court in case the council agreed to the proposal.

According to the City Attorney, it is not possible for a city to modify its prayer style with intentions of preventing other Satanic Church members from speaking. Doing so will become a breach of the first Amendment.

"The answer is it’s constitutional in accordance with a long line of cases, so the probabilities are that it would be upheld by a court," Holm said of Wednesday's council decision. "But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be challenged in this particular case, and I’d rather not say in open session what I suspect the outcome of a challenge (would be)," Brand Holm added.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter