The innovation at the beginning of an Austin City Council member usually isn't controversial. And it won’t be, at least not on December 1st. Jeremy Galloway, the Satanic Temple member who is slated to do the invocation, will be out of town and is being replaced by a Lutheran minister.
City Clerk Jeanette Goodall said Galloway is still on the list and will get another opportunity to lead the Invocation.
“I would say January February time frame but we've haven't worked out those details,” said Goodall.
So how did a member of the Satanic Temple get the opportunity to stand at this podium in the first place?Goodall saID the group simply got on a list kept in her office and being religious is not a requirement.
“I don’t think that we’ve ever established that rule, so we are open and we take a broad perspective of organizations that represent the citizens in Austin. I not sure how many citizens are represented by this particular organization, but they expressed interest and so our role in the clerk’s office is to allow interested parties to participate if they'd like and so that’s what we do,” said Goodall.
There is also no requirement to submit, in advance, what will be said. So it’s unknown if Galloway intends to be as theatrical as to what happened in Pensacola July 14th.
A Satanic Temple member, dressed in a robe was allowed to lead the council meeting in prayer. Despite the Lord’s Prayer being said by local church members, the Satanic Temple member eventually got to have his say in song. Those with the Satanic Temple are not actually devil worshipers, but are atheist. They oppose religion in government and typically use satire to make their point.
In Phoenix, to avoid a scene, like what happened in Pensacola, council members voted to ban all open prayer at their meetings. The move was essentially what the Satanic Temple group wanted. A month later- the council reserved its decision and decided only chaplains with the police and fire departments would lead the prayer. But that plan may not be a long term solution.
"At present that includes only five individuals representing only the Christian and Jewish faiths, so it’s a very narrow scope of beliefs that will represented,” said Jeremy Helfgot with the Phoenix Human Rights Commission member.
There are no plans currently in the works to change the way the invocation is done at Austin council meetings.