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'Bad Faith': Federal Judge Condemns Satanic Temple During Fight to Lead Prayer at Boston City Council


A federal judge in Boston has given The Satanic Temple (TST) a slap on the wrist during the group's court battle to open Boston City Council meetings with a satanic "prayer."

The judge said TST had acted in "bad faith" by using questionable tactics, accusing the group of merely trying to gain publicity for its legal fight.

According to The Well News, TST sued the Boston City Council in Jan. 2021, arguing that the council violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the free exercise clause of the Massachusetts Constitution by not inviting the Satanists to "pray" before their meetings.  

Last October, the Satanists tried to subpoena then-City Councilor Michelle Wu to show up for a Nov. 2, 2021 deposition at their Salem, MA, location. That day was Election Day and Wu was the frontrunner in the Boston mayoral race, therefore, the city responded that she would not be available and asked to reschedule. 

The National Law Journal reports U.S. District Judge Angel Kelley reprimanded TST, saying, "it is exceptionally bad faith to intentionally notice deposition for a date and time when a party knows the deponent will be unavailable or greatly inconvenienced."

The city had offered TST a list of 47 other individuals "who might possess relevant information" and who might be "more convenient, less burdensome and less expensive" to testify than Wu would be, given her electoral circumstances.

The counsel for TST refused to reschedule the date.

Lucien Greaves, co-founder of TST, told The Well News the city "tried to get sanctions against us while protecting Michelle Wu from answering any questions at all."

Greaves said the temple could have spoken with one of the alternatives that the city offered on the list, "but what's to prevent any one of them from pointing to somebody else and saying 'they can answer your questions,' just like Wu did?"

Still, Judge Kelley scolded TST for its motives, saying it was "distracting from the significance" of its own case by using tactics that its own lawyer admitted were designed "to get the attention of the public." She said that type of behavior "does a disservice to the gravity of the constitutional claims at issue."

Judge Kelley was also displeased with the temple's attorney, Matt Kezhaya, for saying that he has "a sworn duty to do anything short of breaking the law to see to it my client's goals are recognized." 

The Satanic Temple claims it has a Boston area membership of 2,449 people.

Despite the judge's rebuke, the Satanists' legal battle will proceed in the courts. In Boston, city council members are allowed to invite any religious leader of their choosing to offer an opening prayer. The city contends that it is perfectly legal for council members to select specific individuals to pray, and last year U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs agreed with the city on that issue.

Meanwhile, Intercessors for America is calling for Christians to pray about this case. The group posted a prayer, saying, "Father, we pray that You would preserve our religious freedom and help our judges be wise as a serpent and innocent as doves in dealing with legal challenges from the Satanic Temple."

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