Several AZ cities did not honor the group’s First Amendment rights.
The Satanic Temple Arizona chapter will give the invocation at the meeting of the Sahuarita Town Council some three years after they submitted their request to do so. The Tucson, Arizona chapter of the TST had submitted the request in the initial months of 2016. When they applied, the official response was in the negative. They were told the list was full.
The Tucson branch (TST-AZ) nevertheless submitted the application and then waited since the invocation ceremony is generally rotated among different local faiths. After being turned down by a number of other cities like Scottsdale and Phoenix, the members of the Tucson chapter were unsure they’d ever get a date. They were suddenly informed about the availability by an email sent by the Town’s clerk Lisa Cole.
The Satanists are naturally ecstatic. “We’re very pleased that Sahuarita honored our request. We’re pretty excited about it,” said Stu de Haan, the media liaison and lawyer of TST-AZ.
Although it is insisted that the invocations be non-secular, most get to read prayers and invoke a Christian God or Jesus. The September 9 invocation will be the maiden one for Arizona coming from the The Satanic Temple.
The invocation campaign was begun by de Haan much before the group became a local chapter of the national group in February 2016. According to de Haan, the group made the first application in Phoenix, but when they found out municipalities across the state allowed invocations, they began applying to other towns as well. Their goal is to make themselves heard and to participate in public forums like other groups.
De Hann said the invocation application request to Phoenix caused “a complete meltdown.” The City Council, in order to deflect the Satanists eliminated the invocation before meetings altogether and laid the complete blame on the Satanists. The city of Scottsdale, in turn, practically shooed them out. The Scottsdale officials first invited the group to a meeting in May 2017 and then canceled the invitation. The group then filed a lawsuit against the city in February 2018. According to de Haan, the lawsuit continues as per the First Amendment’s Equal Protection and Establishment Clauses. In contrast, the Sahuarita officials kept their word.