Reading Time: 4 minutes

SatanCon is set to take place next weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona. Calls for prayer rallies are many. The local Catholic Diocese are all advising their flocks to come to church and pray there, but they’re still calling it “spiritual warfare”. 

Candidates for office, Megachurch wannabes, and Catholics oh my

They can pray if they want to; they can leave my friends behind

The thing about all this happening is that nothing about this is new to the Satanists. The Arizona Congregation of The Satanic Temple (TST) was founded on a controversial invocation campaign in Phoenix. Dare I say that those of us who were already paying attention to TST trauma-bonded over the livestream of the Feb 3, 2016 Phoenix City Council meeting.

YouTube video

How Satan helped shape Arizona secularism

I don’t blame you if you don’t have the stomach to sit through the atrocious behavior on display in that video. Allow me to reflect on some of the highlights.

There were state representatives, preachers, a kindly (and frankly amazing) ex Golden Dawn member (named Lou Crowley!), and grandmother types pleading to let Christians keep praying, but not let the Satanists play that reindeer game. It was a vicious display.

Of the people who were there in support of TST, many became pretty good friends of mine. If there’s one section I would take the time to watch it starts about 1:09:00 into the onslaught. 

This section begins with Carl Lombardo, cutting in line ahead of Tory Andersen (nee Roberg, a fantastic advocate and tireless champion for secular issues at the state capitol), giving a downright fire and brimstone speech about how he had spiritual surgery performed on him when he was 42 and … I guess had a Jesus implant installed? Unclear. In stark contrast, Tory’s statement is a clear, fact-based, plea for a moment of silence and for a return to actual business that matters.

Also notable is an absolute legend of the Arizona Secular movement Zenaido Quintana (then Chairman of the Secular Coalition for Arizona). His statement around 1:43:00 in is a breath of fresh air.

It’s worth remembering

“I know it’s easy to think that you’re in church when you step into this chamber, particularly today. And I’m with those that hold that everyone here is entitled to believe whatever they choose to believe. What they’re not entitled to do is to impose each of their beliefs on all the rest of us. Not the Satanists, not the Christians, not the Muslims. None of them can impose it on the rest of us. And I think the duty of this particular body is to make the laws governing the City of Phoenix, and they do it usually very well. 

I wanted to make one quick point, an earlier reference to “our Judeo-Christian principles” … I challenge anyone here to open their bibles and find the word “democracy” or “republic” in it. It isn’t there. We do not live in a Judeo-Christian culture, we live in a Greco-Roman culture. That’s where that came from. 

Finally, I’d like to repeat the words of wisdom of Councilman DiCiccio. He said ‘government should not be in the business in which it has no business’. Religion is not the business of this body. You can’t walk out the door without tripping over several churches … if I want to be inspired by religion I don’t have to go very far from this chamber to get it. 

And lastly, the government should not be devising schemes to circumvent the law. This scheme of finding a way around it does exactly that.”

Zenaido Quintana, Feb. 3, 2016, Phoenix City Council Meeting

In light of subsequent events

Looking back on that three hours at the Phoenix City Council in 2016 is odd after the 2020 election. We just had a completely pointless audit that only served to line the pockets of fringe lunatics of questionable competence and ethics. Many of the same 24 state representatives that signed a letter six years ago in opposition to my friend saying 124 words at a boring city meeting recently signed a document declaring themselves an alternate slate of electors who would vote for Trump if Mike Pence of all people didn’t finally, for once in his life, find a spine. 

11 months later

After the Phoenix invocation brouhaha, William and Allie in Los Angeles spearheaded the LA Black Mass. That will have been five years and one month before SatanCon. It was January 14, 2017, right before the inauguration. In retrospect, the LA Black Mass was like a dark farewell party to a different time. 

The energy of the LA Black Mass was like a chemical reaction. Growth in the organization exploded. Congregations (then called chapters) started adopting highways and beaches. They would also collect goods for women’s groups and veterans. Now, TST has a sobriety support network, online weekly services with crafting and gaming activities, and an entire ministry program. Yes, TST had and has its legal campaigns. But these local groups were doing real legwork in their communities. 

Often, emotions ran high

I think we all knew we were in for a ride when Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy his first week in office. I don’t think anyone predicted how much of an impact his appointments would come to have on the judiciary. The feminist response women’s march punctuated his poorly-attended inauguration. Then he tried to institute a ban on travel from ‘Muslim countries’ and reproductive rights took a back seat making sure the bastard didn’t start an international incident. 

Again, many of the same lawmakers who signed that letter in 2016 also helped pass the trigger bill that’s on the Arizona books just waiting for Roe v. Wade to go down. 

Ultimately it isn’t even about abortion. It’s about control. Their kids can afford medical tourism.

For three years, I had a Satanic holiday card list that I would make Satanic greeting cards for using a print-on-demand service. During those years Satanists from Oregon, Washington, California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, the Florida Panhandle, and Georgia, were all in constant contact. My holiday card list extended from Maine to New Zealand. Many people got angry that TST’s lawsuits didn’t seem to be persuading the courts, other people were frustrated that TST wouldn’t focus on other issues. Fractures occurred. New groups formed. Some good, some bad. 

The pandemic drove everybody into their homes. People moved, lives changed. Priorities and availability shifted. 

So it just seems to me, after all that, there’s nothing at all wrong with a small group of eccentrics renting out a hotel to have a nice little religious retreat with a section where crafty members of the community can ply their wares.

FOR INFERNAL USE ONLY Jack Matirko was raised in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, but it didn't take. His projects include The Left Hemispheres Podcast, The Naked Diner Podcast, and An Ongoing and...