Struggles in the Phoenix city council garnered national headlines this week when a local affiliate of the nationwide Satanic Temple requested to offer the invocatory prayer at an upcoming council meeting. After some legal shenanigans by council members opposed to the Satanists’ plan, a vote was held to, in effect, ban formal prayer altogether and instead hold a moment of silence before the council meetings, something that drew the ire of Phoenix residents present at the deciding vote. The troops rallied in favor of their God, displaying the typical gamut of sentimental sacraments, including saccharine tears and sham compassion.
“Silent prayer is against our founding fathers,” a local, grandmotherly type declared, speaking for men long dead, who likely believed that a woman’s voice and vote was more dangerous than silent prayer. She added that “this nation would have never risen without God.”
After admitting that his family prayed to keep Satan away from them, a man said he couldn’t believe that the council would consider letting someone come in and “invoke the powers of darkness over the city of Phoenix.” Just what said-powers would do was ambiguous, but no bat-winged horrors bearing pestilence have been sighted swooping over the valley yet.
A woman with arm upraised in righteous frenzy told everyone that the root word of invocation is “invoke.” (Thank you, ma’am.) “Are we invoking still the blessings of God on our state and our city, or are we invoking the curse of the deity spoken of that they serve as Satan?” Does Satan have a better handle on intelligible syntax? If so, sign me up!
Perhaps best of all was Darlene Vasquez, a pastor of a local church, who said she didn’t believe in silent prayer. “I want those who believe in the one true God to pray,” she said through her tears. “It breaks my heart to hear what is going on.”
Although many Scourge readers might heave a sigh of relief that “separation of church and state” is built into the U.S.’ founding documents, there is a small hitch. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that a city council, in the longstanding tradition of the U.S. Congress, is allowed to hold an invoking prayer, although it can’t endorse a religion or exclude minority religious groups. Cold comfort, indeed.
But beyond the legal squabbles and cloying mixture of tent-revivals and jingoism was the sophisticated position of the Satanists themselves, who don’t believe in Satan as a literal god but as “metaphorical… representing a universal fight against tyranny and autocracy.”
Sounds like the Satanists get the point of religion more than the Christians do, but that shouldn’t be surprising. Like all faiths with low self-esteem (e.g. Islam, Judaism), Christianity demands that its members go to the barricades anytime someone threatens God, as if “he” were so weak that “he” needs backup from people who believe dinosaur bones are the devil’s work.
Deity is always metaphor. That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable or that it doesn’t work, but if we literalize “God,” we’re bound to be disappointed. What happens when we pray and live a good life only to get downsized at work, be struck with disease, suffer the death of a loved one…or lose a legal battle which God should handily win? What happens is we’ve got a crisis of faith – which is likely the beginning of real spirituality.
Doubt is the catalyst for wisdom. Following prescriptions laid out by so-called spiritual leadership puts all of us in the role of children forever trying to please an impossible parent. And while Jesus, of course, did tell us that we should become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew and Luke), don’t forget he also said we should be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16), an animal known for sowing the seed of doubt in our mythological progenitors. It’s only because of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden of Eden that Christ is born. It’s only through our exploration of the world, with all it has to offer – good/bad, black/white, right/wrong – that a mature, spiritual adult can be born in the stable of our souls.
Until next Sunday… the heretic’s day.
Other news about the faithful:
Saudi Court spares a poet’s life by reversing a death-sentence and instead giving this dissident artist eight years in prison and 800 lashes. Gotta make sure the fragile Allah is protected from rhyming quatrains!
After endless battles with Jerusalem’s Orthodox Jews, women and men can pray together in their own special spot at the Western Wall. Next up? The earth is over 6,000 years old (gasp)!
A seminary student was arrested by federal agents after using the web to find a young girl (like, four-years-old young) to sexually brutalize. Glad they caught this one before ordination. Now what about the others?
Sadly, America isn’t the only country where Christian nuts do stupid shit against Muslims. The Brits are in on the game, too.
Men in an Indian village say the head-chopping goddess Kali is against village women working. Gentlemen, have you ever noticed that the heads in Kali’s necklace are all male? ‘Nuff said.
And in real estate news, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are selling their Brooklyn headquarters. Snap up a great deal and help put more money in the coffers of proselytizing whackos!