• The Satanic Temple: June 2020 newsletter

    From The Satanic Temple@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jun 29 14:15:27 2020
    June 2020


    While we receive a great deal of support for our legal efforts, a
    few people have questioned the wisdom of litigation. Because many
    Satanists celebrate their outsider status, religious discrimination,
    despite its ubiquity, is often accepted and taken for granted. The
    Satanic Temple, however, objects to this treatment.

    Because religion is frequently used as a means to curtail people’s
    rights, the tactic of utilizing the courts as a vehicle for social
    change is tainted for some. The Satanic Temple believes these
    tactics are politically neutral. If the courts defend religious
    liberty in earnest, then they should be compelled to issue rulings
    that protect and advance rights consistent with beneficent religious
    doctrine such as ours. Otherwise, we expose the hypocrisy of many
    judges and set the stage for judicial reform. In this regard, even
    if we don’t prevail in a legal challenge, the justness of our cause
    and its legal merits are nevertheless established, and corrupt
    judges are exposed by the degree to which they avoid adhering to law
    and precedent.

    When those who oppose our mission celebrate our losses in court,
    often they are celebrating the erosion of justice and the
    deterioration of our legal system where judges become nothing more
    than political hacks with an agenda. Sadly, this is becoming the

    While there is still hope that we will encounter judges who uphold
    the law and have a conscience, we will persist. The change many wish
    to see can be advanced in other ways, but the outcome may not be as
    permanent or applicable to future violations.

    In this month’s newsletter, we celebrate our legal efforts, all
    while more lawsuits are being planned.

    Judy Doe v. Michael L. Parson, et al 19-1578 (8th Cir.)

    History: Judy Doe, a member of The Satanic Temple, sought to have an
    abortion in the State of Missouri, but she was forced to wait for
    72-hours and was required to accept reading material that violates
    her religious beliefs. The material was designed to produce guilt
    and shame and asserts that life begins at conception.

    TST filed a lawsuit against the State on her behalf that claims that
    the adopted policies and procedures by the State violated Doe’s
    rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Free Exercise and Establishment
    Clauses. TST appealed after a decision did not take into account a
    prior ruling handed down by the U.S. Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.
    In the case, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490
    (1989), the Court ruled that the life of each human being begins at
    conception is “an impermissible state adoption of a theory when life begins.” The Satanic Temple simply requested that the Court reaffirm
    its ruling.

    The appeal focused on the policies and procedures of the State,
    which dictate a theory of when life begins for its residents. In
    place of what should be a personal theory, the State employs its own
    two-part theory. The first is that the life of each human being
    begins at conception, and the second is that abortion will terminate
    the life of a separate, unique, living human.

    While the State may make laws that promote health and safety, TST
    insisted that the State may not dictate its beliefs in a manner that “violates [Judy Doe’s] right to choose her theory of when life
    begins without government input…[that] violates the Establishment
    Clause and Free Exercise Clause” by demanding written acknowledgment
    by the patient of the State’s doctrine.

    It is in our tenets that decisions regarding one’s body should be
    based “on the best scientific understanding of the world." This
    holds true even if the science does not comport with the religious
    or political beliefs of others.


    On June 9, the Eighth Circuit, in a three-judge panel decision,
    affirmed the dismissal of the TST’s challenge to the
    constitutionality of the Missouri Informed Consent Statute on the
    grounds it violates the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment.
    The Court found that the U.S. Supreme Court had affirmed the
    Missouri Tenet as a valid expression of the State’s right to make a
    “value judgment” in favor of childbirth over abortion,
    notwithstanding the Eighth Circuit’s ruling in 1988 that it was an “impermissible theory on when life begins.”

    The Court applied the “rational basis” standard to the
    discrimination in the Missouri Lectionary and found the State could discriminate because the statute was “neutral” and “generally applicable.” The Court refused to consider the arguments that 1)
    the Informed Consent Statute violates the “undue burden” standard established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey; or 2) that this is a
    “hybrid rights” case. The Court said those claims were not
    specifically alleged in the complaint as separate counts.

    The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure allow a petition for a
    rehearing en banc by the entire panel of the Eighth Circuit. Such
    hearings are disfavored and allowed only if en banc consideration is
    necessary “to secure or maintain uniformity in the court’s
    decisions” or “the proceeding involves a question of exceptional importance.”

    We will believe the merits of the case and the Court's rejection of
    it prior ruling warrant a hearing and TST will be filing a petition
    by June 23.


    The Eighth Circuit's explicit avoidance to rule on two fundamental
    issues that affirm our claim does not represent a loss for the cause
    of religious liberty for Satanists. Instead, the Court's evasion
    suggests that they know we are correct in the claims we made in our
    original appeal.

    With the religious protections of the First Amendment and the ruling
    in the 1988 Webster case, it is evident to TST that their decision
    was an expression of dogma, separate from any defensible legal
    precedence. Because the Court's job is to uphold the law, it is
    reprehensible that they would deprive Satanists of their religious
    freedom by ignoring fundamental claims. The law is on our side. The
    petition that we will file against the Eight Circuit will politely
    call out the duplicity and cowardice of avoiding a legitimate ruling
    based on law and precedence.

    Satanic Temple et al. v. Scottsdale, AZ, 20-15338 (9th. Cir)

    History: The City of Scottsdale, AZ, opens its city council meetings
    with a legislative prayer. Prior to our involvement, it was an
    all-comer system: anyone who wanted to could call a city clerk,
    request placement on the schedule, and give a prayer. Prayers came
    from the Phoenix metro area, mostly from Scottsdale and Phoenix. In
    2016, TST-Arizona requested placement on the schedule. Similar as
    all other prayers, the matter was a brief 2-3 minute phone call
    consisting of "who are you, and when do you want to do it?" There
    were no questions about "where are you" or "how many Scottsdale
    citizens adhere to your religion?"

    A massive public outcry ensued as news spread of a Satanic prayer
    being given at the beginning of the meeting. One church coordinated
    15,207 form emails to object to our equal participation. The mayor
    had the clerk respond to emails stating that he did not approve of
    our beliefs and personally found us repugnant. One city
    councilmember informed an objector, "I wish (and intend) my
    deliberations on Council to be blessed and guided by God alone."
    Another councilmember published an article, including the
    statement, "I do not welcome a Satanist group." Another wrote an
    email stating, "I like having the prayers, do NOT want the
    Satanists, and I think this is taking equality too far."

    The City Manager then became involved and ultimately directed the
    clerk to rescind the invitation stating that the City "would not
    deviate from its long-standing practice of having the invocation
    given only by representatives from institutions that have a
    substantial connection to the Scottsdale community." We put on
    evidence that the City Manager was brought in because of the massive
    public outcry.

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