The Boston City Council Invocation Request

In October of 2016, The Satanic Temple – Boston Chapter requested that we be able to perform an invocation during the Boston City Council’s weekly meeting.

The text of our request (which was sent October 11th) can be found below:

Good afternoon Councilor Wu,

My name is Travis [REDACTED] and I am the Chapter Head of The Satanic Temple –Boston. We’re a group of politically aware, non-theistic Satanists active within your community. The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.

I spoke to a representative of your office named David, and I was informed that the Boston City Council’s invocation slots are invitation based. Over the past year, the invited clergy performing these actions have been overwhelmingly Christian. As a member of a religious minority, I plead with you to consider allowing me to perform an invocation. I was told by David that I would need to personally request a spot from a councilor. I’ve reached out to Mark Ciommo last week, but I haven’t received a reply just yet. I have also sent an email to Tito Jackson in an attempt to be heard by someone who still has slots open for invocations during this calendar year.

While requiring some variety of sponsorship is understandable, it would be shocking if I am to be turned away due to my faith while other religions are allowed to hold prayers in a government building. In fact, I would say that it would be a breach of the first amendment.

The religious oppression felt by those outside the Christian community in Boston is a blight on an otherwise liberal state. Consider what your actions could do to increase the diversity of the city council’s current invocation schedule and the light it can shine on religious plurality within the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The response we received from Wu was less than inviting.

Travis,

Thank you very much for taking the time to reach out. As my staff mentioned, each Councilor has the chance to invite 2-3 faith leaders per year to deliver the opening invocation at one of our Council meetings. The invitations are often used to recognize faith leaders who are active in the community and organizations that are representative of their districts. There is no restriction or criteria based on any Councilors’ religious preferences. Many of us have a long list of folks we’d like to invite but haven’t been able to accommodate. Everyone is welcome to attend the weekly City Council session, to testify at any City Council hearing, and to get involved in our policy work.

Michelle

The policy of performing invocations should either be open to all faiths, or none. There is no need to open government meetings with a religious ceremony of any kind, but if Wu demands that they continue, we will push to be represented during them.

While we have been denied, this will not be the end of this campaign.

For more information, review the media coverage that this effort received or read our very own A. Morgan Stern’s essay on the matter.

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