Phoenix, Arizona will no longer begin its city council meetings with a prayer, a reform the council adopted in order to prevent a Satanic Temple member from offering such an opening invocation.
By Ian Hillhiser|ThinkProgress
The move follows a 2014 Supreme Court decision that, ironically, was widely viewed as a huge blow to the separation of church and state when it was handed down. That impression, however, did not anticipate the Satanic Temple’s efforts to troll lawmakers who wish to begin their meetings with an endorsement of religion.
Town of Greece v. Galloway involved a town in upstate New York that invited local clergy to open its board meetings with an invocation. With a few exceptions, these prayers were delivered by Christian ministers, and many of them had overtly Christian themes. Nevertheless, a bare majority of the justices concluded that this arrangement did not violate the Constitution. “That nearly all of the congregations in town turned out to be Christian does not reflect an aversion or bias on the part of town leaders against minority faiths,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the Court. “So long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination, the Constitution does not require it to search beyond its borders for non-Christian prayer givers in an effort to achieve religious balancing.”