It’s easy to feel sorry for the Satanic Temple. Just about everyone thinks they’re devil worshippers, even though that’s a major misconception: they don’t even believe the devil’s real. They merely see Satan as a symbol of rebellion. As stated on their website:
To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. The Satanist should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world—never the reverse.
The Satanic Temple was hoping to clear the record when delivering an invocation before a city council meeting on February 17. But not everyone loved the idea, and on February 3 over a hundred people assembled in the Phoenix City Council chamber in Arizona to discuss the possibility. In the end, the city council voted to end the practice of opening meetings with a prayer rather than allow the Satanic Temple an opportunity to offer an invocation. This is odd fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court case Town of Greece v. Galloway, whereby SCOTUS ruled that public meetings may be opened with invocations as long as all groups have the opportunity to offer them.
Humanists have started to offer invocations in municipalities that continue the practice, even in the town of Greece, New York. I’ve created a humanist invocation that’s adapted from the practice of loving-kindness meditation, whereby you leverage feelings toward loved ones in order to feel kindness toward strangers. There have been an increasing number of research studies on this form of meditation, with findings suggesting that it may reduce bias and promote pro-social behavior.
Perhaps the best invocation is none at all. But if they are to continue, why not focus on promoting good without a god?
A Humanist Invocation
We are in this space to further the public good. We have different perspectives because each of us has had different life experiences. To help us love—or at least not despise—our opponents, let’s take a moment to summon feelings of love and kindness.
Let us all think of a person who really helped us at some point in our life. When we think of this person, we feel warmth and gratitude. If we can, let’s visualize this person in our imagination and look upon them with eyes filled with kindness and love.
Even with loved ones, we sometimes disagree, but we find a way to work out our differences. Let us bring this same spirit to our dealings with the people we encounter here.
Let us also remember that not everyone in our community is present here. Let us be considerate of the interests of those who are absent and also of the interests of those not yet born who may live in this community some day.
Finally, let us breathe in and breathe out, and when anger rises, remember to take a breath before speaking, so that we are reasonable people engaged in dialogue.