The City of Lake Worth has accepted the request of an atheist to give a "Satanic" invocation before an upcoming commission meeting.
Atheist and blogger Chaz Stevens sent his request to the city last week, after news broke that Lake Worth's mayor and a few commissioners had walked out during a fellow atheist's invocation December 2.
Mayor Pam Triolo and a handful of commissioners walked out of a meeting before atheist Preston Smith gave his invocation on December 2.
Triolo later claimed she walked out because of a tweet Smith had sent, not because he was an atheist.
The tweet in question was from July, when Smith tweeted out an offensive interpretation of a biblical Scripture from Deuteronomy meant to poke fun at a Chicago Tea Party activist named C. Steven Tucker after Tucker wrote a blog post calling for President Obama's impeachment.
Triolo tried to explain this on a lengthy Facebook post but instead invited the ire of commenters calling her out for being bigoted because Smith doesn't hold her Christian views.
In turn, Smith posted his own Facebook status, calling on Triolo to delete her post and issue an apology.
"Your recent public Facebook post is outrageously slanderous toward my image and I am urging you to immediately remove it and issue an apology to repair any damage caused," Smith wrote. "The libelous nature of your maligned blame is nothing short of utterly appalling. We have taken note that this allegation has been posted on an official Mayoral account, using, presumably, city resources and time."
Triolo never issued a public apology. But she deleted the post. Soon after, her entire page was gone.
John Szerdi, one of the commissioners to walk out during Smith's invocation, released a statement that read:
"My reason for leaving the chambers was based on my determination that I preferred to not have this person saying a prayer on my behalf. As much as he had a right to say what he said, I had a right to not listen. In the future, I believe we should set aside 'a moment of silent prayer' so everyone can reflect on their own without offending anyone."
Following this brouhaha, Stevens -- the guy who puts up a Festivus Pole made of beer cans as a holiday display in the Florida Capitol Rotunda -- decided to stir things up even more. Though he has described himself in the past as an atheist, he sent in his own request to the city manager "to give a Satanic, yes Satan, invocation at an upcoming City Commission meeting. Everyone is welcome to sing along, or as is the recent case when Miami atheist activist Preston Smith gave the invocation, like Elvis, they can leave the building.
Another email request to the city clerk had Triolo copied to it:
Madam Clerk; With the patience of Allah, the understanding of Horus, the love of (ALL HAIL) Satan, and in the spirit of understanding (and equal protection under Federal law), I'm officially requesting to give the opening invocation at the next available Commission meeting.
Rest assured, no chickens or animal sacrifices will be involved in this invocation. However, I'm doing my best to lay in a mariachi band.
Kindly let me know what date works for you.
On Thursday, Stevens received a reply from the city that his request had been accepted, with the schedule to be determined later. The only guideline the email asked for was for Stevens to keep the invocation brief, which is standard.
Stevens has yet to write up the invocation but shared the opening statement with New Times:
Ladies and gentleman, please bow your heads in respect to all of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the War on Christmas.
I'm also trying to work this in ... "Satan and I don't believe in keeping Christ in Christmas, nor do we, like certain Catholic priests, believe in keeping the rape in rapists."
We'll certainly keep you updated to this story as it develops.