Man battling to recite Satanic prayer at commission meeting

FOX 35 News at 10 p.m.

- Chaz Stevens, of Jupiter, Florida told FOX 35 via Skype that he wants to be able to recite a Satanic prayer ahead of a Lake County Commission meeting.  There is stiff opposition from the top of the Commission.

It began with an email Stevens sent to the Commission on Tuesday October 20, 2015, citing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing prayer at government meetings. In it, Stevens asks that he be allowed to “give a Satanic invocation” in Lake County. He claims his invocation would be “solemn and respectful in tone” and “invite lawmakers to reflect upon shared ideas and common ends."  FOX 35 asked Stevens why he wants to give a Satanic invocation.

"Satanism, that is the boogie man for Christianity, it’s about performance art, it’s the thing that was going to get the most attention, and I like the attention,” he explained. “The attention draws eyes to the cause. At least maybe I could get some people thinking that maybe this is not a good idea, 'Maybe I don't want to spend a couple hundred thousand taxpayer dollars money that could be spent feeding little kids.' Instead, they are going to fight a militant which is guaranteed me in the law by the Fourteenth Amendment."

Stevens said this is part of his project called “Satan or Silence.” He put up a Festivus pole in Tallahassee in 2013 that drew statewide attention.  "I am a militant atheist,” he said. “I don't believe in heaven or hell or Satan or any mythology."

The thought of a Satanic invocation isn’t sitting well with commissioners who sit on the board.  Board Chairman Jimmy Conner told FOX 35,  “That’s not in question, at all. As long as I’m Chairman, I assure you that he will not be giving the invocation in a Lake County Commission meeting. I can assure you, I will not support eliminating prayer, just because he wants to be disruptive.”

Christians, along with the Bahá'í independent religion, and even atheists have given the invocation thus far this year, according to a list of speakers provided to FOX 35 by county spokeswoman Elisha Pappacoda.

“It’s the law,” Conner explained. “They opened without being disruptive, and we welcomed them.”  Stevens said, "The Satanic invocation is not allowed in his chambers, that is absolutely, categorically, discriminatory"

FOX 35 took to the streets to see what Lake County’s own think about the idea.  Heather Duncan, of Clermont said “Absolutely not!”  When asked why not, she explained, “A prayer is calling on a higher being to intervene, to assist, to guide. Who would want Satan to help guide in anything?”

If a legal battle erupts, Chairman Conner said, the group called The Liberty Council will represent the Commission on this issue, at no cost to Lake County taxpayers.

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