@leftofcentermi / X | Inset: Adobe Stock

A board meeting in Ottawa County, Michigan opened in chaos after the commissioners permitted a member of the Satanic Temple to perform the opening invocation. Luis Cypher, a so-called minister of Satan, opened the invocation saying, “Let us stand now, unbound and unfettered by arcane doctrines born of fearful minds in darkened times. Let us embrace the Luciferian impulse to eat of the tree of knowledge and dissipate our blissful and comforting delusions of old.” He called on the audience to “Let us reason our solutions with agnosticism in all days, holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true.” He ended his invocation saying “That which will not bend must break, and that which can be destroyed by truth should never be spared its demise. It is done. Hail Satan.”

Numerous protesters and supporters packed the hall and overflow room for Cypher’s words. Many bore signs denoting their affiliations, with some saying, “Hail Satan!” and others “One Nation Under God.” One man preached in the overflow room while the invocation continued on a projection screen. After the invocation, Commissioner Rebekah Curran, who handed out heart-shaped cookies with “John 3:16” stickers before the meeting, spoke out against the prayer. “I feel like it’s a really important moment in time to not only show the love of Christ, but show the power of Christ. I just pray that everyone will feel the manifest presence of God in this room and in this building today,” she said. The public comment portion of the meeting was filled with people speaking out against the Satanic Temple. Bendr Bones, co-head of The Satanic Temple of West Michigan, said he saw the protests as a positive sign. “It’s sort of a message that ‘I’m doing the right thing’ if people that I ideologically disagree with are protesting.”

The invocation is a result of changed policies the board adopted at the beginning of the year. The change was the result of a lawsuit brought on by LGBTQ+ affirming pastor Jared Cramer, who claimed that Ottawa County Board Chair Joe Moss had ignored his two requests to do the invocation as a way to “endorse a particular set of religious beliefs and exclude a particular set of religious beliefs.” The board changed the policy so that all requests from pastors to do the invocation must be received in writing and received on a first-come, first-served basis. Cramer did the February invocation, but his lawsuit is still pending. Moss supports the change in policy.

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