Despite efforts by the city of Scottsdale (AZ) to undermine the lawsuit against the city by the Satanic Temple in regard to the council’s discriminatory invocation program, they have still failed to win a motion to dismiss the case. The suit was originally filed in February after (TST Arizona chapter head) Michelle Shortt’s invitation to speak at a meeting in May 2017 was rescinded by council officials, citing “lack of community ties” to the city. Legal counsel Stuart du Haan noted that this stipulation was not in effect when the invitation was initially approved in April, and thus it is clearly an attempt at discriminatory backpedaling by the council because they simply do not wish The Satanic Temple to have their say.
Mayor Jim Lane has since publicly bragged about the situation, even going so far as to list it as an “achievement” on his re-election campaign fliers. Two public records requests with the city of Scottsdale also yielded a trove of emails between councilors and “concerned citizens” which ascertained blatant bias against the Satanic Temple – with Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield notably lamenting in one email that “this was taking quality too far”.
In the present case before the court in the Federal District of Arizona, the City has attempted to dismiss proceedings on the basis of “failure to state proper claims”, “naming incorrect defendants”, and “insufficient pleadings”, among other excuses. Federal Judge Campbell of the Arizona District Court has dismissed claims against individual council members (including Mayor Lane), but the suit against the City itself remains intact.
The Satanic Temple now presses forward with its substantive claim of Establishment Clause violation and this is now considered a case of first impression. As there is no existing precedent in the 9th Circuit, this breaks new and historic ground for the entire West Coast where this Federal Circuit presides. The next step is to set depositions for Mayor Lane and his associates who were party to the discriminatory act, in anticipation of a Summary Judgement motion. Both sides are also expected whatever decision is reached. If the Satanic Temple wins the Equal Protection claim at the appellate level, the Circuits would be “split”, opening the chance for this to be decided by the United States Supreme Court.
The Satanic Temple Veterans’ Monument MINNESOTA VETERAN’S MEMORIAL March 1, 2017. Veterans Memorial Park in Belle Plaine, Minnesota featured a soldier kneeling before a cross. The Freedom From Religion Foundation put the city on notice that this display violates the Constitution, and the statue was removed. The City Council then opted to designate a limited public forum where the park could accommodate up to ten displays honoring Belle Plaine veterans so they could re-erect their religious statue. To assure plurality, The Satanic Temple submitted its own monument proposal dedicated to the veterans of Belle Plaine that is consistent with its aesthetics.
The Protect Children Project March 16, 2017. The Protect Children Project utilizes the First Amendment to protect public school students from corporal punishment, solitary confinement, physical restraints, and the deprivation of bathroom access, as these abusive practices violate The Satanic Temple’s religious belief of bodily inviolability. When a student registers at protectchildrenproject.com, TST notifies their school board that harming this student would violate their civil rights. A billboard announcing the Protect Children Project was erected in Springtown, TX, where a male assistant principal, Kirt Shaw, brutally spanked two teenage girls despite school rules prohibiting such actions. Michael Kelley, the superintendent of Springtown, lobbied the school board to change the policy retroactively to allow male faculty to spank female students. Read More
After School Satan September 26, 2016. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in Good News Club v. Milford Central School that schools may not discriminate against religious speech and thereby affirmed the rights of religious organizations to operate clubs on public school premises after school hours. Child Evangelism Fellowship, which mounted the lawsuit, used this ruling to establish hundreds of evangelical after school clubs designed to proselytize to children. In response, The Satanic Temple formed the After School Satan Club (ASSC), to be introduced only in districts where the Good News Clubs operate. The ASSC cannot be legally denied where other religious clubs have a presence. Read More
Grey Faction “April 4, 2016. Conspiracy theories in the 1980s led to irrational fears of the existence of satanic cults that perpetrated horrific crimes that often included outlandish supernatural components. Some licensed therapists capitalized on these narratives and exploited their patients by pressuring them to confabulate false memories under hypnosis. Some people were caused to falsely believe they have endured traumas, and they often implicated family members and friends in these easily disprovable fabrications. The Grey Faction staged its first demonstration in San Francisco against the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), an organization that promotes conspiracy theories, the pseudoscience of false memories, and psychiatric abuse in general. Read More
Religious Literature For Schools STUDENT ACTIVITY BOOK April 1, 2016. When the Orange County school system allowed an evangelical Christian group to distribute Bibles on Religious Freedom Day, The Satanic Temple asked to participate by passing out their Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities. The school board postponed Religious Freedom Day while they sought a way to legally discriminate against TST. When the school board’s attorney affirmed that they could not, they opted to prohibit the distribution of all religious material. However, the following year, in response to the ongoing distribution of Gideons’ Bibles in Delta County Public Schools in Colorado, The Satanic Temple was permitted to distribute its activity books. These actions have put other districts on notice that if they opt to permit the distribution of religious material to children in their schools, that all religious organizations must be allowed to hand out religious texts.
ARKANSAS BAPHOMET August 31, 2015. Modeled after Oklahoma’s bill that was struck down by their State Supreme Court, the Arkansas Legislature passed a bill introduced by State Senator Jason Rapert to install a Ten Commandments statue on State Capitol grounds. Because this violates the First Amendment by allowing the State to privilege one religion over others when the grounds are not open to other religious organizations, The Satanic Temple offered to donate its statue of Baphomet to be erected directly in front of the Ten Commandments. TST’s application was blocked by an emergency-session bill that requires all monuments to have legislative sponsorship. Because the purpose of the bill is to affirm the legislature’s intent to act in defiance of the Constitution, a lawsuit is pending.
Religious Reproductive Rights May 11, 2015. The Satanic Temple filed both state and federal lawsuits against the state of Missouri on behalf of Mary Doe, a pregnant woman seeking an abortion. Missouri law requires that all women seeking to lawfully terminate their pregnancy be given reading material claiming that life begins at conception and endure a 72-hour waiting period between their initial appointment and their actual abortion procedure. TST objects to these restrictions on religious grounds because they violate our belief in the inviolability of one’s body. The lawsuits are supported by the First Amendment’s establishment clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Read More
FLORIDA CAPITOL HOLIDAY DISPLAY December 2, 2014. The Satanic Temple applied for a display to be included in the 2013 collection of religious displays shown in the Florida State capitol during the winter holidays. The request was unlawfully rejected on the grounds that it was “grossly offensive.” However, no component of the display was cited as violating community standards, suggesting that the offense was founded on religious viewpoint. The same display was re-submitted the following year along with a legal threat from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the display was accepted. After a mentally unbalanced woman attacked the holiday diorama, the district attorney filed misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief that were later dismissed.
RIGHT TO ACCURATE MEDICAL INFORMATION July 30, 2014. A number of states require that abortion providers give inaccurate or misleading information to patients. The Satanic Temple demands that its members, and those who share our beliefs, not be subjected to anything but the best scientific understanding, as this is a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which exempt corporations from some laws they find religiously objectionable, The Satanic Temple began a campaign against practices it finds offensive.
OKLAHOMA TEN COMMANDMENTS AND BAPHOMET January 2, 2014. After a statue of the Ten Commandments was donated to Oklahoma City by State Representative Mike Ritze and placed outside the Oklahoma State Capitol, The Satanic Temple offered to donate for display its own religious monument, a statue of Baphomet. By favoring one religion over another, Oklahoma was engaging in viewpoint discrimination, which is expressly forbidden under the US Constitution. Ultimately, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments statue, and The Satanic Temple withdrew their request to place Baphomet on public property.
BLACK MASS AT HARVARD May 12, 2014. The Cultural Studies Club, a student organization at Harvard University, invited the Satanic Temple to perform a Black Mass in Harvard’s Memorial Hall. The script for the ceremony was taken from the pages of Joris-Karl Huysmans’ 1891 novel, Là-Bas. A worldwide controversy erupted when Catholics insisted that the performance would constitute hate speech because they believe the Black Mass mocks Catholic rituals and they erroneously argued the ceremony promotes evil. Due to the overwhelming demand to see the Black Mass, the event was moved to a location that could accommodate more people. Several Christian organizations have made false claims that the event was cancelled
PINK MASS IN MISSISSIPPI July 14, 2013. After the Boston Marathon bombings claimed the lives of three people, the Westboro Baptists announced their plans to picket the funerals of the victims to draw attention to their loathsome anti-gay agenda. In response, The Satanic Temple went to Meridian, Mississippi to perform a Pink Mass at the gravesite of the mother of Westboro Baptist founder, Fred Phelps. The ritual was conceived to make Fred Phelps believe that The Satanic Temple had turned his mother gay in the afterlife and succeeded in invoking the ire of the Westboro Baptists.
RALLY FOR GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT With the enactment of SB-96, a bill that permits student led prayer at school assemblies for schools who wish to participate; The Satanic Temple staged a rally in support on the steps of the Florida capital building in Tallahassee Florida.