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‘Hail Satan’: County meeting opens with invocation praising the devil

Updated January 18, 2024 - 10:34 am

It’s not everyday that you hear the words “Hail Satan” uttered at a local government meeting.

An opening invocation given at a Washoe County Commissioners meeting raised some eyebrowns Tuesday when Reno Satanic founder Jason Miller said the phrase during the meeting.

Invocations are a traditional opening practice at county commission meetings both in Washoe and Clark County. The invocation is “offered for the benefit of the Commission,” and is intended to “add solemnity to the meetings and ask for wisdom and guidance” as the Commission makes policy decisions, according to Washoe County.

Attendees at the meeting can be seen shaking their heads and leaving the meeting as Miller gives the invocation, where he calls upon Satan to “bring influence and guiding actions of nobility and justice to the decisions made in this chamber today.”

Commissioner Clara Andriola was also absent before the invocation was given and later returned to her seat.

“In the spirit of the unconquerable son, the bringer of light and knowledge, we say shemhamforash — hail Satan!” Miller concluded.

Reno Satanic refers to itself as a “non-theistic Satanic group” on X, and says it is unaffiliated with The Satanic Temple, Church of Satan or other satanic groups on its website.

“We are inspired by the art and folklore of Satan to push-back against arbitrary authority, to break down negative cultural institutions, to be in opposition through our community outreach, events, direct action,” the website states.

Andriola later in the meeting said she disagreed with Miller’s invocation and asked Assistant District Attorney Nate Edwards for clarification on the compliance requirement for the invocation.

“That’s a trend that’s going on in various places around the country where that group or groups similar to it are signing up for local invocations,” Edwards said. “The case law in the country and the federal law in the country is that you don’t have to open your floor for invocations. If you do open your floor for invocations, then federal law is that you have to let everybody have a turn signing up.”

Commissioner Michael Clark said the meeting’s invocation was an “unintended consequence” of holding invocations.

“Commissioner Andriola asked for the invocations, and now we’ve got these unintended consequences,” Clark said. “You’ll notice she got up and left the room when this (invocation) happened. The rest of us had to sit there and listen to that crap. … At the end of the day, my faith is stronger than that nitwit’s words, so he can say whatever he wants — he’s not gonna convert me.”

Andriola encouraged Washoe’s faith-based community during the meeting to contact the county manager’s office to be considered for an invocation.

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com.

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