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Satanic Temple suit over Boston council prayer moves forward

July 23, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit filed by the Satanic Temple against Boston to move forward.

U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs rejected the city’s bid to dismiss the Salem-based group’s lawsuit challenging the Boston City Council’s traditional opening prayer at its public meetings. The Boston Herald reports the Boston judge did, however, toss certain parts of the complaint.

The newspaper says Burroughs denied the Satanists’ arguments that the prayer is discriminatory and a violation of the 14th Amendment but allowed its arguments that it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause.

The Salem-based group, which has lodged freedom of religion challenges nationwide, argues the council’s policy for its opening prayer is discriminatory and unconstitutional because it does not permit prayer from every religious organization that wishes to deliver one.

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The city maintains the prayer isn’t discriminatory. It says the council doesn’t accept requests to deliver the prayer but instead allows each council member to invite a speaker of their choice a few times a year.

“It’s clearly the definition of discriminatory when you allow functionaries of the state deciding what viewpoints are allowed in the public square,” Lucien Greaves, the group’s co-founder, told the Herald when it filed the suit in January.