Phoenix commission weighs in on Satanic prayer controversy

The Phoenix Human Rights Commission is weighing in on the plan to block a Satanic prayer at the invocation of a Phoenix City Council Meeting.
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The fight continues between members of the Phoenix City leadership and a Satanic Temple in Tucson over a prayer to be given at a February council meeting.
 
"I have a responsibility as Mayor of the city to make sure we are acting in a constitutional way, but that is what leadership demands," said Mayor Greg Stanton.
 
Stanton is not shying away from the controversy surrounding the satanic prayer that is set to open the February 17 council meeting.
 
"I won't support a plan to make a political point, or try to represent myself as more pious than somebody else. I won't support a plan that our legal team says is inevitably going to lose in court," said Stanton.
 
4 Phoenix Council members are pushing proposals that would change the way invocations are scheduled. It would allow council members to extend invitations and require speakers to be sponsored. Councilman Sal DiCiccio also wants a council member or the mayor to sponsor two members of the Satanic Temple who don't appear to live in Phoenix. 
 
"They are not a community member, they are not part of the City of Phoenix, they are from Tucson. If the mayor feels so strongly about which he says, then he needs to be the one to put his name behind that Satanist to speak in front of the council," said DiCiccio.
 
Some groups have blasted the proposal saying it would favor mainstream religious groups.
 
"If we are going to be free and open, we have to be free and open to anyone," said Jeremy Helfgot with the Phoenix Commission on Human Relations.
 
"If we're going to allow prayer into public meeting, then that prayer has to be open and accessible to anyone who wants to participate in it," said Helfgot.
 
Currently, there is no requirement for a formal "sponsorship" to give a prayer at a meeting, nor are there residency requirements. There is expected to be an item on the agenda for this week's council meeting to address the process of how requests come through, which may entail greater involvement of council districts. 
 

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