Written by Don Byrd

A request by the Satanic Temple to be allowed to deliver the invocation at city council meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, was rejected, resulting in a lawsuit alleging violations of the First Amendment’s religious freedom guarantees. Initially, the city – which allows area clergy to deliver the opening prayer – granted the request, but ultimately was denied, citing a lack of “substantial connection” between the Satanists and the city, according to an ABCNews report.

The plaintiffs have acquired evidence suggesting the council members considered the request to be “absurd.”

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, contains emails allegedly obtained by the Satanists through the state’s open records law in which city council members said the temple’s request to give an invocation was “absurd” and that allowing it would be “taking equality too far.”

In a reply email to one constituent asking him to stand up to the Satanists, city councilman David Smith, according to the lawsuit, wrote, “Please be assured I share your sentiments. I am informed permission was given, relying on a Supreme Court opinion that this ‘religion’ is protected by the First Amendment … an absurd notion, even if not surprising.”

it may be “absurd” to include Satanists in those allowed to offer government invocations at the beginning of meetings. But, instead of having the state choose which religious perspectives are allowed to pray at meetings for the benefit of the public, maybe the solution is to decline to feature prayers at all as an element of a government meeting. After all, prayers are deeply personal acts of individual conscience. Why should government be in the role of picking and choosing who prays, and to whom?