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Phoenix City Council votes to reinstate opening prayer, will be given by city chaplain

PHOENIX — After a long-winded debate of the presence of opening prayer in Phoenix City Council meetings that led to a moment of silence as a replacement, council members voted 7-2 Wednesday to reinstate spoken prayer.

Under the new rule, the prayer will be given by a chaplain from either the Phoenix Police or Fire departments.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton banned opening prayer at city council meetings, instead replacing it with a moment of silence, after a Satanic church attempted to lead the prayer at a meeting last month.

The tradition of an opening invocation had continued for 65 years and thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, could not be limited to certain religions or beliefs.

After the Satanic Temple of Tucson applied and was approved to give the prayer at a Feb. 17 meeting, council members immediately came together to figure out how to block the group’s ability to lead the prayer.

Phoenix City Attorney Brad Holm said any religion can call the city clerk’s office and request to give the prayer, which is chosen by a rotating pool of state Senate members.

The Satanic Temple quickly moved on and was invited to give an invocation at a Scottsdale City Council meeting in April.

Michelle Shortt, who would have given the meeting prayer on behalf of the Satanic Temple, told KTAR News all their group wants is the same rights as other religions.

“It kind of exposes a hypocrisy that is within our system, their constitutional ignorance and their self-serving audacity,” she said.

The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization that aims to protect the “constitutional principle of separation of state and church,”worked with the temple to apply to give the prayer.

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