It may be some time before Satan will be making his appearance at a Coral Springs City Commission meeting because Mayor Skip Campbell said he first wants to meet with the other commissioners to discuss invocation procedures.
Activist Chaz Stevens requested to be put on the agenda to perform an invocation and recently heard back from City Clerk Debra Thomas.
“Good Afternoon. It appears that there is availability on the invocation list in September or October. However, the City is continuing to review its policy and will keep you updated,” she wrote.
Campbell, who was elected in 2014, said he was under the impression that invocations were done by chaplains that were affiliated with police or fire rescue, and because of sunshine laws, he cannot discuss these issues with commission members until they meet.
“Do we want to continue what we are doing, or have a moment of silence?” Campbell asked. “That’s probably what he wants in the end.”
In Coral Springs, commission meetings begin with prayer led by either a minister, rabbi, or pastor, even a representative from the Baha’i Faith. So far, a Satanist has never asked to say a prayer. That is, until Stevens came along. Not only has Stevens asked, Campbell said that he has received a call from another Satanist who wants to perform an invocation.
But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last May that prayer is allowed at City and County commission meetings provided it applies to all religions – or quasi-religions.
In the ruling of The Town of Greece v. Galloway in which the court decided that the Town of Greece, New York may permit volunteer chaplains to open each legislative session with a prayer. The court concluded that the town’s practice of opening its town board meetings with a prayer offered by members of the clergy does not violate the Establishment Clause when the practice is consistent with the tradition long followed by Congress and state legislatures, the town does not discriminate against minority faiths in determining who may offer a prayer, and the prayer does not coerce participation with non-adherents.
Skip Campbell said he will read more about the Supreme Court ruling and will be looking into the procedures at a future workshop meeting.
Stevens, who most recently was instrumental in getting the City of Deerfield Beach to stop religious invocations, changing them to a moment of silence said, “I hope Skip studied constitutional law when he got his JD.”