Pensacola, FL City Council may eliminate invocations to prevent Satanic prayer.
According to a press release confirmation by Don Kraher, the Pensacola City Council Executive, a representative of TSTWF, The Satanic Temple of West Florida, will be delivering the invocation for the council’s July meeting. The meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 14 has been a source of growing controversy with many of the council members opposed to the invocation.
David Suhor, the person set to deliver the invocation has had his fair share of controversial occurrences. In 2014, Suhor delivered a Pagan prayer at Escambia County Board of County Commissioners meeting in Florida. Some months back, he had again offered to deliver a Pagan prayer at Escambia County School Board meeting.
TSTWF is an officially recognized chapter of The Satanic Temple having being recently granted chapter-ship status by the Satanic Temple’s national organization. David Suhor is among the founders of this Florida chapter.
The move to grant permission to deliver the confirmation was not particularly voluntary for the relevant city officials but rather a requirement by law. According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s direction, the City Council cannot discriminate or exclude a denomination from participating in council meetings or even dictate the content or religious viewpoints expressed in a prayer during the meetings.
This therefore simply means that it is David Suhor’s constitutional right to offer any prayer he may wish at the council meetings. The fact that this makes most of the council members uncomfortable has raised debates such as whether the council should vote to get rid of invocations entirely. In light of this, according to Council President Charles Bare, the council is set to hold a meeting prior to the official July meeting in a bid to pass a vote banning all form of invocations in the council meetings.
City council seeks to thwart Satanist's invocation with silent prayer plan: The Pensacola City Council in Flo… https://t.co/4mrCoIRror
— Cliff Austin (@CliffAustins) July 5, 2016
In a statement from David himself, he expressed gratitude to the City Council for finally allowing his group to give an invocation in what he referred to as the council opening up to one less-popular religion. He also said that he hoped the city would put in place a policy that eliminated discretion from the choosing of invocations.
Other boards such as ECUA and the County Commission, School Board however have denied Suhor’s prayer requests. These boards lack official prayer policy unlike the city and can therefore bar some religions they may not approve of from participating in their activities.
Suhor also hopes that such occurrences will work to counteract the imaginary supernatural influence in local politics. This way, the government can act as stipulated by the constitution and take a neutral stance rather than pander to the dominant religion. This includes issues like the relocation of the Bayview Cross which The Satanic Temple West Florida strongly believes is and an outright endorsement of Christianity, the dominant religion in Florida, on public property that is supported by tax dollars.