Phoenix City Council to Replace Opening Prayer with Moment of Silence
The Phoenix City council voted to replace a longstanding tradition of praying before its meetings with a moment of silence.
The move prevents a Satanist group from offering a prayer at the council's meeting on February 17.
The group said it didn't intend to do anything offensive. They say they don't believe in a literal Satan, but see the biblical Satan as a metaphor for rebellion against tyranny.
City attorney Brad Holm said the government cannot exclude a religion from praying.
"Consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's direction, the city cannot dictate religious viewpoints or the content of a prayer," Holm said. "In addition, government may not exclude a denomination or a religion from praying under these circumstances."
Mayor Greg Stanton said while he disagrees with the message of Satanism, the First Amendment protects their right to deliver the invocation.
"As offensive as that message may be, the Constitution demands equal treatment under the law," Stanton said in a statement.
In the past, the invocation has been delivered by Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs, among others.