If a man in Florida has his way, praying to Satan will be allowed at the next town council session in Deerfield Beach. Or, if not there, then perhaps the next session of the Florida State Senate in Tallahassee. Just days after the Supreme Court ruled that sectarian legislative prayer was constitutional, the Broward Palm Beach New Times reported May 9 that political activist Chaz Stevens requested equal billing for his "Dude in Charge" at opening prayers at political meetings of the Deerfield Beach town council.
Given the Supreme Court ruling in Greece v. Galloway on May 5, a decision that prompted Harry Bruinius at the Christian Science Monitor (via Yahoo News) to ask if it okayed Satanists giving invocations, there does not seem to be any way to constitutionally deny Stevens his request. Just as long as he does not “denigrate nonbelievers or religious minorities, threaten damnation, or preach conversion,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, which might infringe upon others' constitutional rights.
The 5-to-4 ruling stipulated that judges could not disallow prayers in government meetings.
“I just want equal billing,” Stevens, an avowed Satanist, told the New Times.
"We allow various religious nutjobs to give a prayer," he continued. "They pray to Jesus, who is make-believe; God, who is make-believe; why not Satan, who is make-believe? Why discriminate against one make-believe god over another? Satan and I are being circumvented. The City of Deerfield Beach has once again declared war on religion -- and this time it's Satanism."
In fact, Stevens wrote the City of Deerfield Beach with a formal request to open a town council session with a prayer to Satan.
In the letter obtained by the New Times, Stevens wrote, in part: "seeking the rights granted to others, I hereby am requesting I be allowed to open a Commission meeting praying for my God, my divine spirit, my Dude in Charge.
"Be advised, I am a Satanist."
He signed his name to the letter, playfully noting that he was communicating from "Ring 6 of Dante's Inferno."
An activist who styles himself as a corruption fighter, Chaz Stevens, who has previously billed himself as a "militant atheist," has been somewhat of a thorn in the side of Florida politicians for quite some time. Especially in matters regarding religion. Last year, he successfully installed a Festivus Pole made of Pabst beer cans in the Florida State Capitol's rotunda.
The city has declined to comment on the Satanic prayer request thus far.
As for Chaz Stevens, his recent conversion from atheism to Satanism seems to be purely hedonistic. "Satan is a cool dude," he told the New Times, apparently unaware that he had described the traditionally maleficent ruler of Hell, a place almost always depicted as more than a little hot, as "cool." "Think of all the people he's in charge of. Do you want to be stuck listening to harp music in the afterlife? Hell no. I want to drink beer and hang with hookers."
No doubt a few politicians in Florida will suggest that, if drinking a beer and hanging out with hookers is basically all Stevens wants, he could legally do that in Nevada. Where it's hot. And far, far away from Deerfield Beach, Florida.