Jan 25 2013

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FLORIDA: Satanists Rally FOR Gov. Rick Scott’s Signing New Prayer Bill that Protects Students Right to Practice Their Religion

Published: 16 January, 2013, 23:31
Edited: 24 January, 2013, 19:21

Satanists plan rally in support of Florida governor
Satanists plan rally in support of Florida governor

The Satanic Temple is planning a rally outside of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s office to support his bill allowing students to pray at school events.

Senate Bill 98 gives students “sole discretion in determining whether an inspirational message is to be delivered” at a school assembly – including religious prayers. Scott has long advocated for students to be able to pray at school events, but he wasn’t expecting Satanists to jump on the opportunity.

To celebrate the governor’s signing of the bill, Satanists will rally outside of his office on Jan. 25 to show their support for Scott’s decision, as well as to promote their own beliefs.

“You don’t build up your membership unless people know about you,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves told the Palm Beach Post. “So this allows us to get our message out in public. We’re hoping it will reduce the stigmatism.”

Neil Bricke, founder of the Satanic Temple, will travel from his home in New York to Florida to speak at the rally.

“New York is a pretty good place for Satanism. Florida is too,” Greaves told ABC News. Currently, the Satanic Temple is “more or less an online community”, but its members are trying to bring their places of worship to US cities.

“Though we have far to go before public education leads to a mainstream embrace of our Satanic religion, we feel that our own public ‘coming out’ will go a long way toward raising the consciousness of the populace … and the social environment has never yet been better prepared for the welcoming of the Satanic era.”

Gov. Scott is an evangelical Christian who supports prayer in schools and has therefore always supported Senate Bill 98, which was sponsored by Sen. Gary Siplin. The bill was subject of heated opposition in early 2012, with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League and Americans United claiming it would alienate students whose religions are in the minority.

Gov. Scott did not expect the Satanic minority to publicly thank him for the legislation and hold a rally outside of his office, but told ABC News that every group has a right to express themselves.

The Satanic Temple does not know how many people will attend the Jan. 25 rally, since most of its followers have expressed online interest and could be located anywhere in the world. But one thing is clear: they want the Republican governor to know the effect the new legislation is having on their community.

“Satanists are happy to show their support of Rick Scott who – particularly with SB 98 – has reaffirmed our American freedom to practice our faith openly, allowing our Satanic children the freedom to pray in school,” the Temple said in a press release announcing the rally.

Associated Press
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 8:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 8:18 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A group of self-proclaimed Satanists on Friday praised Florida Gov. Rick Scott for signing a bill into law last year that lets Florida school boards permit student-initiated prayer and other “inspirational messages.”

During their rally, a white sign with black lettering was stretched across the steps of Florida’s Old Capitol proclaiming “Hail Satan! Hail Rick Scott!”

A high priest wearing goat horns and four “minions” dressed in black, hooded robes were joined by a spokesman, sound technician and camera crew.

The devil, though, was in the details.

The spokesman, Lucien Greaves of Cambridge, Mass., earlier this month had been listed on the Actors Access website as the casting director in an ad seeking unpaid, nonunion actors in Tallahassee. They were wanted to perform in a “mockumentary” titled “The Satanic Temple.”

Greaves insisted it wasn’t all a hoax, although a smile creased his face as he said it.

“Mockumentary” wasn’t his terminology, Greaves said. He said the video crew was shooting public service announcements and a history of Satanism for internal use.

“We’re doing it in a humorous, kind of lighthearted fashion,” Greaves said. “We wanted to do old-style, like `80s Mormon kind of PSA-type things and keep it funny.”

He added that “we don’t want to be Gothic, doom and gloom all the time.”

When asked for a response, Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said, “This is a great country. Everyone has a voice.”

The high priest, who identified himself only as “Dark Eminence,” and one of the minions, a teenager who said her name is Cassandra Wagner, addressed the media and a few onlookers. The girl said the school prayer law would give her an opportunity to explain to her classmates that Satanism is misunderstood.

The group handed out religious tracts on delinquency and Halloween that describe Satan as having the “compassion and wisdom of an angel” while being subordinate to God and God’s proxy “in the sphere of the physical.” The pamphlets feature comic-book like stories, mimicking tracts often handed out by conservative Christians.

The girl, though, is unlikely to get a chance to present any inspirational messages in school. That’s because none of Florida’s 67 school districts has yet adopted rules permitting them. Groups that advocate the separation of church and state have made it clear they will sue any district that allows such messages.

While the Dark Eminence was speaking, a man in shorts and sunglasses shouted: “You believe you’re going to Hell?”

“I believe it and I’m very excited about it,” the high priest said.

“You’re excited to go to Hell?” the heckler responded. “Awesome.”

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