Satanic Temple member and criminal lawyer Stu de Haan was browsing a forum for the church when he saw a call from Lucien Greaves, who had heard that a secular humanist had been blocked from delivering the invocation at a Phoenix City Council meeting. Next thing de Haan knew, he was putting in an application to lead it — and making national news.
“There's no goal per se other than to participate and not be discriminated against,” de Haan told Sputnik when asked about his motivations for the move, which has many in Phoenix up in arms.
De Haan’s simple email request was initially approved, but caused a fight among members of city council, who were using the approval to attack other councilmembers and label them “Satanists” for allowing de Haan to exercise his rights.
The flustered councilmembers then tried to block the invocation by changing the rules, to observing a moment of silence instead of opening with a prayer — after arrangements were already made and a handful of people had RSVP’d to attend. Once word got out that de Haan’s request had been blocked, hundreds expressed their interest in traveling to attend — and de Haan warned the council that he would file a lawsuit if they blocked it and violated the constitution.
A city council meeting was held, which de Haan told Sputnik was “like a medieval witch hunt happening before my eyes.” He described people crying at the podium, stating that the invocation would cause it to “rain fire,” and “curse the city.”
De Haan says the most difficult city council member has been Sal DiCiccio, who actually compared the members of the Satanic Temple to Daesh.
“Well, ISIS is evil. What is Satan? I think most people would say that Satan is evil. If I were to ask your viewers right now…” DiCiccio told local station 12 News.
Followers of the Satanic Temple are generally agnostic or atheist, and don’t believe Satan actually exists, but use him as a symbol of rebellion. Members of the group are fierce proponents of freedom, “including the freedom to offend.”
Sputnik asked de Haan what he thought of DiCiccio comparing him to a terrorist group, and he had some choice words for the councilman.
“He's a psychic vampire and incompetent. He'd get his city into a losing lawsuit on some tribal pandering principle rather than do his job. He doesn't even understand extremely basic constitutional law. Arizona deserves better,” de Haan said.
He has now set off a campaign to deliver invocations at meetings across the state, and ultimately plans to challenge the Ten Commandments statue that stands outside City Hall by requesting to place the famed 7-foot-tall statue of Baphomet next to it. The monument features Baphomet flanked by a child on either side, on a throne featuring a large pentagram. It is currently being stored at an undisclosed location in Michigan.
While de Haan has not revealed what exactly he plans to say during the invocation, he told Sputnik that it will be “innocuous, nothing offensive, and will not feature criticism of any other religions.”