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Satanists appeal ruling against right to give invocation

February 29, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — The Satanic Temple has appealed a judge decision ruling the city of Scottsdale did not discriminate against the temple when city officials blocked the group from giving an invocation before a council meeting in 2016.

U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell ruled earlier this month that the city did not deny the temple’s request because of its religious beliefs, the Arizona Republic reported. The city spent much of the trial arguing that the temple could not have experienced religious discrimination because it is not a religion.

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Temple Attorney Matthew Kezhaya argued that then-acting City Manager Brian Biesemeyer was influenced by thousands of emails against letting the temple speak, and some campaign materials by city leaders who publicly expressed concerns about the invocation.

Biesemeyer denied the allegations saying it was city practice to permit invocations only by organizations with substantial ties to the community.

The emails did “not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Biesemeyer acted on the basis of plaintiffs’ religious beliefs, or even that those beliefs were a substantial motivating factor in his decision,” Campbell said.

The city did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

“I was really expecting to win this,” Kezhaya said. “But it’s still government, and government is still a popularity contest.”