Minister from Satanic Temple will deliver city council invocation
The Pensacola City Council opted not to take action at a special meeting Thursday, clearing the way for a minister of the Satanic Temple to deliver the invocation later this month.
"I just wanted to give the public a chance to come out and address us," Council President Charles Bare said. "This is the last opportunity that we had to see if the council wanted to have Mr. Suhor come speak to us for invocation."
Bare called the special meeting because David Suhor is set to give the invocation on behalf of the Satanic Temple on July 14.
Back in February, Suhor put in a request through the city clerk to give the invocation. The city clerk usually arranges and schedules them, but this particular case went to the council president. Bare offered a slot in December.
"When I was asked to give him a slot, I just said well, I serve until November, my preference was to not have him do it while I was council president," Bare said.
The date is July was offered after much persistence on Suhor's part. However, it also raised questions why there is not a standard procedure for choosing who delivers invocations.
"How would you feel if you were a non-Christian and came to nearly every meeting and heard Christian prayer over and over and over," Suhor said.
The move to allow the satanic prayer also sparked outrage with some in the community. Bare ordered the meeting with the recommendation to get rid of invocations altogether and replace them with a moment of silence. The councilmembers present all expressed no interest in getting rid of invocations and so the matter was taken off the table within minutes of the meeting starting.
Even though they did not take action, the council still allowed the public to comment on the matter. Some took the opportunity to express concern about allowing the prayer at the July 14 meeting.
"You want ISIS? That person right there is a representative of ISIS," one woman said.
"He's walking about seeking out he may devour and the times are drawing short that people need to know what the truth is of the word of God," another said.
Others stood by Suhor. Several pointed out that an invocation is meant to promote unity. Suhor said that is all he wanted in the first place.
"No one comes to these meetings to get prayed over," Suhor said. "They're divisive, they're not in any way uniting, they can be hurtful and make people feel ostracized."