Oct 13, 2016

Satanic Temple seeks to perform City Council invocation



OCTOBER 12, 2016

A Boston satanic congregation has asked to perform an invocation to begin a City Council meeting, claiming that members of their faith are entitled to the same treatment as other religious groups that have performed prayers at meetings.

In a letter sent Tuesday to City Council President Michelle Wu, the Boston chapter of The Satanic Temple requested a slot at the beginning of a City Council meeting.

“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,” the letter from the head of the chapter, Travis L., stated.

Travis said in an interview that the Boston chapter wants to make sure that believers of all faiths are treated equally.

“Our goal in this specific endeavor is to either receive equal religious protection from the city of Boston or to prove the inequity and hypocrisy of the city’s leadership,” said Travis, who asked that his last name not be used due to concerns about his safety.

Travis said several chapters of The Satanic Temple have made similar requests in cities around the world.

“If other faiths are allowed to promote their beliefs and deities during government meeting time, then The Satanic Temple has a right to as well,” Travis said.

Travis said the Boston chapter reached out to two council members to request invocation slots. However, Travis said, when the group did not receive a reply from either of them, they sent the letter to Wu.

The letter stated that “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.”

Wu said each city councilor is allowed to invite two to three people every year to give an invocation at the beginning of a meeting. She said there are about 36 meetings every year.

Leaders who have delivered the invocation in recent months have included priests, pastors, reverends, rabbis, and city clerks.

“It’s individual councilors’ choices who they invite,” Wu said. “It’s not based on anyone’s religious preference, but it does often recognize figures that have done work in the community and are representative of the district.”

Wu added that Travis has already called her office to find out the process of being invited to give an invocation.

Wu said no councilor has invited anyone from the group to give a prayer so far.

“Most councilors have already invited their faith leaders to come in, so there are a limited number of spots left,” Wu said. “Many of us have a long list of folks who we would like to have the chance to invite to the council meetings.”


Olivia Quintana can be reached at olivia.quintana@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @oliviasquintana.





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