I ran across this article over the weekend, wherein a man in Florida is petitioning the city council of Deerfield Beach, FL to let him open a council meeting with a prayer to Satan.
His letter reads as follows:
Dear City of Deerfield Beach;
With the recent US Supreme Court ruling allowing “prayer before Commission meetings” and seeking the rights granted to others, I hereby am requesting I be allowed to open a Commission meeting praying for my God, my divine spirit, my Dude in Charge.
Be advised, I am a Satanist.
Let me know when this is good for you.
As far as his “religious” requests goes, I say, “go for it!” If it’s a legitimate invocation of prayer to “his god” then, by all means, he should be allowed to proceed under the rule of law. After all, with the recent passage of the Supreme Court ruling in Green v. Galloway—that sectarian legislative prayer is indeed constitutional—than he is, and should be, allowed to do so.
Why do I get the feeling it’s not that magnanimous, though?
Not that that should make a difference.
If it’s merely to get a rise out of the conservative element within his community (most likely Christian), then I say…let him do it anyway. If Christians, or any religious faction for that matter, raise protest, show outrage, condemn, etc., etc., we merely prove this man’s point in the process.
He becomes right.
…he’s right anyway, let’s just not give him the showcase to drive home the point.
Sometimes, (quite often most times), the best way to take the stigma out of a situation is not to react to it.
To educate yourself about it, yes. To learn from it, yes.
Then, move on.
And, I know, that’s really, really hard!
In my mind, there are three possible reactions we, as Christians, can take to folks like Mr. Stevens (and, for that matter, anyone who invokes this type of zealous yet ultimately unconstructive internal response in us.)
We can overreact: cause a stink, raise Cain, shout our disdain from the rooftops, which is the easiest and exactly what too many Christians do and exactly the reaction these folks are looking for—ultimately amounting to nothing more than hypocrisy at its best.
Or, we can take the harder road and acknowledge the existence, and legal rights, of these folks, then take the next step (towards them): engage in conversation, if they are so willing, (which, by definition, is a two-way dialog), and, if not, pray for them, silently, to yourself and to your God so as not to be “…practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
Moreover, what do you suppose would happen if the collective reaction from the Christian community of Deerfield Beach, and more importantly, within the reach of the various and anonymous social media outlets, was…*shrug*?
What I don’t advocate doing, which is nearly as easy as reacting in outrage, is merely ignoring them. Though they may “go away” after a time, they will only get louder before they do. This benefits no one, them included.
If a guy wants to pray to Satan before a city council meeting, because he can, or because he thinks he’ll get his jolly’s that way, I say go for it, dude!
I’ll pray to my God as well. Then maybe I can tell you the story of a man named Elijah and a certain challenge on Mount Carmel.
Ya know, just sayin’….