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There’s a conflict brewing between The Satanic Temple and the potential next mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu.

Michelle Wu

Here’s the backstory: In 2016 and 2017, the Temple’s Boston chapter formally asked the city council if their members could deliver an invocation at upcoming meetings. It was a fair request, given that the city’s unwritten rules allowed council members, on a rotating basis, to select community members to give those opening remarks. No council member, however, gave Satanists that opportunity.

In a lawsuit filed against the city earlier this year, the Satanists said the city’s invocation practices discriminated against people who held unpopular religious beliefs.

The lawsuit noted that, between 2011 and 2017, there were 233 invocations… and they were disproportionately awarded to Christians, Muslims, and Jews, while none of them were given by “Wiccans, other Pagans, and Native Americans.” The Satanists wanted the courts to declare Boston’s “prayer scheme” unconstitutional — and when that happened, they wanted to “bless the Council’s meeting within two weeks following entry of the order.”

This alone is a fairly straightforward application of the law as it applies to invocations. Does Boston really have an all-inclusive method when it comes to choosing who’s giving invocations? Or do the courts need to force their hand?

This case is still working its way through the system; no decision has been made.

But this is where we hit the conflict because Michelle Wu served on the Boston City Council when all of this was going down. She’s actually the person who responded to the Satanists’ request by saying the invocations were non-discriminatory… but also invitation-only.

The Satanists want her to give a deposition in court, which seems perfectly reasonable.

Here’s the problem: The deposition is currently scheduled for November 2. Election Day. A day when Wu could become the city’s next mayor.

Now the city’s lawyers are issuing an “emergency” motion to change the date… which might be fine, except they’re not offering to reschedule it at all. They’re trying to help her escape any sort of accountability.

… Boston’s attorneys were the ones responding to the devils’ advocates with hell’s fury, filing an eight-page “emergency” motion attempting to get Wu off the hook, both for the 9 a.m. Election Day appointment and also for any future deposition.

The city’s lawyers said the Election Day request of Wu is for “the sole purpose of harassing and annoying” the likely next mayor of Boston.

“If the deposition were permitted, it would encourage future plaintiffs to file lawsuits solely for the purpose of deposing high-ranking government officials at the beginning of their actions without having to make any specific allegations related to such official,” the city wrote.

Wu also chimed in:

This isn’t a case of harassment, though. Wu played a role in the alleged discrimination. The Satanic Temple has made it clear they’re fine with changing the date she gives her testimony; what they’re not okay with is Wu avoiding the deposition altogether.

“That wasn’t us trying to be smartasses,” [The Satanic Temple’s spokesperson Lucien] Greaves told the Herald, saying any other day should be fine. “I wasn’t really expecting this to be a thing.”

Making matters worse is that the judge is demanding the Satanists explain why they called for the deposition on Election Day, as if they need to justify the normal course of a lawsuit. The demand also implies that the Satanists chose the date just to be dicks about it. Their lawyer responded this morning saying there was nothing nefarious about the scheduling:

This case is a matter of public interest. As a case of public interest, I expected the notice of deposition would inspire (or force) Wu to think about all of the people from whom she was seeking a vote of confidence on November 2 — no matter the color of their skin, the flavor of their creed, or the origin of their mother tongue…

Certainly, no ordinary citizen would be entitled to flaunt a subpoenaed deposition date by asserting they are “slightly busy” on that particular day… No, an ordinary citizen would be expected to offer an alternative date of mutual agreeability.

I feel no remorse for the action I took. As an attorney, it is my sworn duty to do anything short of breaking the law to see to it that my client’s goals are recognized. This business of litigation is zero-sum. Everything I do which can benefit my client will cause an equal and opposite effect on the other side. I serve my purpose with all the zealous advocacy which my oath commands. And I expect nothing less from my adversaries.

This would be easily resolved if the city just offered another reasonable option. In a separate letter, the Satanists’ lawyer also said deposing Wu was necessary:

… The City’s objection to producing Wu for the deposition is rooted, not in timing, but in the erroneous and unsupported assertion that Wu is a “high ranking government official” and therefore immune from my searching inquiry. I will separately and timely brief this Court why Wu’s truthful deposition testimony is subject to the compulsory processes of this Court. By way of summary, it is because my obligation is to prove invidious religious discrimination on the part of any one of the City’s Councilors — Wu included.

Whether or not Wu becomes mayor — and that would be historic for a number of reasons — she shouldn’t be allowed to escape accountability for her past decisions as a government official by virtue of the fact that she’s running for higher office.

And to think all of this could be avoided if Boston just got rid of a ridiculous tradition that has long outlived any usefulness.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.