DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Following the Supreme Court’s recent ruling allowing government prayers in Jesus’ name, a Florida man is seeking to open his local commission meeting with a prayer to Satan—just to see if the government will grant him equal time.
Chaz Stevens recently sent a request to Deerfield Beach officials asking that he be allowed to open an upcoming meeting with prayer.
“With the recent US Supreme Court ruling allowing ‘prayer before Commission meetings,’ and seeking the rights granted to others, I hereby am requesting that I be allowed to open a Commission meeting praying for my God, my divine spirit, my Dude in Charge,” he wrote. “Be advised, I am a Satanist. Let me know when this is good for you.”
While the note advised that he was a Satanist, Stevens told reporters this past week that he is using Satanism as a mockery to make a point.
“I just want equal billing,” he said. “We allow various religious nutjobs to give a prayer. They pray to Jesus who is make-believe, God who is make-believe, why not Satan who is make-believe?”
As previously reported, in a divided 5-4 opinion earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld prayers at government meetings that are presented predominantly in Jesus’ name.
“To hold that invocations must be nonsectarian would force the legislatures that sponsor prayers and the courts that are asked to decide these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote on behalf of the majority.
While some have applauded the ruling, others opined that it may have unintended consequences as it could open the door for Satanists and others to seek equal time.
“The Supreme Court has again affirmed that Americans are free to pray,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel David Cortman in a statement following the decision. “In America, we tolerate a diversity of opinions and beliefs; we don’t silence people or try to separate what they say from what they believe.”
“Opening public meetings with prayer is a cherished freedom that the authors of the Constitution themselves practiced,” he continued. “Speech censors should have no power to silence volunteers who pray for their communities just as the Founders did.”
“[Christians] may regret that claim, however, after the full consequences of the decision become clear,” wrote ThinkProgress writer Ian Millhiser in an article entitled Why The Church Of Satan May Get To Open Your City Council’s Next Meeting With A Prayer To The Devil. “The decision offers a road map for Satanists, Pastafarians and other uncommon faiths to demand that they be given an opportunity to open lawmaking sessions with a prayer to their particular deity.”
Stevens, an atheist, is known for his mockery of religion in the public square and his push for equal time for paganism. Last year, he fought for permission to place a Festivus Pole made of beer cans in the rotunda of the Florida State Capitol, and was eventually granted his request.