Talk about a never-ending local controversy: Shortly after the Phoenix City Council voted 5-4 to start its meetings with a moment of silence instead of a religious prayer so that it wouldn't have to decide whether to allow the Satanic Temple to give the invocation at an upcoming meeting, not only did the Arizona Republican Party say it would look into recalling the five members who voted for the new measure, but notorious Florida activist and satanist Chaz Stevens got involved.
Stevens has made a name for himself over the years by fighting to keep religion out of government, often with hilarious or otherwise attention-grabbing measures.
He's the guy who got the giant Festivus pole made from PBR cans put up in the rotunda of the Florida capitol building in 2013, and who regularly signs up his satanist church to give religious invocations at city council meetings — his religion, by the way, “demands the presence of a mariachi band and three twerking deacons of sin.”
While Stevens heads his own church — he's the self-proclaimed bishop of the Church of Satanic Activism — and therefore is not affiliated with the Satanic Temple, he says he's been following the drama in Phoenix closely for the past few weeks.
As New Times wrote recently, after the Satanic Temple announced it would deliver the invocation at the February 17 Phoenix City Council meeting, one of the council's more outspoken conservatives, Sal DiCiccio, lashed out at this news.
(Don't worry, Twitter promptly gave him a civics lesson about how religious equality works.)
DiCiccio, along with three other council members, then vowed to prevent the Satanic Temple from giving the invocation by changing the law. They attempted to pass a measure that would have changed the way invocations are assigned in Phoenix — instead of various groups signing up, council members would take turns inviting religious groups to lead it.
There was plenty of back and forth about what was legal, what was discriminatory, and why the hell the council was focusing on this and not the other serious issues affecting the city, but in the end, the council just decided to nix prayer all together and adopt a moment of silent instead.
Predictably, DiCiccio was not happy about the decision and let the world know he planned to reverse it.
PHX votes to ban prayer 5-4. Sad day for Phoenix— Sal DiCiccio (@Sal_DiCiccio) February 4, 2016
It was at this point that Stevens got involved.
“There was Sal bitching and moaning about whatever he was bitching and moaning about, so I sent him a butt plug . . . so he has something to put in his ass after he gets his head out of there,” Stevens says, adding that he got the idea from “those guys up in Oregon” who were receiving “dildos and dongs” and freaking out about it. “That's good shit.”
According to e-mails obtained by New Times, Stevens sent DiCiccio a Neewer Butt Anus Plug Purple Waterproof Sex Toy and a Barry White CD, both of which should arrive at his office soon, if they haven't already.
DiCiccio did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“Every time I see government stupidity, I'm going to push back,” Stevens says. “My deal is, the government has zero business being in the business of religion.”
Stevens plans to send the other three councilmen aligned with DiCiccio “a big bag of gummy dicks.” (“You know, so they don't feel left out,” he explains.)
But for all the gags and jokes, Stevens is heart-attack serious about the legal side of his battle: “The Constitution is about protecting the minority view so the majority doesn't become the bully . . . The government can't choose who talks and who doesn't talk. We have freedom of expression, and it's a very simple principle: all or nothing.
“If they want to start choosing people, then they're going to open themselves up to litigation, and these are really expensive cases to prosecute . . . What do you really want to do, city of Phoenix? Do you want to get on with business or do you want to fight a First Amendment battle?”
Time will tell whether DiCiccio's plan to bring prayer back works, but meanwhile, Stevens says, “There is a butt plug flying its way over to him.”