In response to a Florida man kicking off a Pensacola city council meeting with a satanic invocation last Thursday night, hundreds of Christians gathered inside and outside city hall to stage a protest and recite the Lord's Prayer.
According to local news station WEAR, David Suhor, the co-founder of a local Satanic Temple, had his invocation disrupted when congregants from the United Methodist Church of Pace recited the Lord's Prayer until City Council President Charles Bare threatened to have everyone escorted out of the building.
"If you deviate away from what I feel is proper invocation speech, I will have you removed from the chamber," Bare was quoted as saying.
Not willing to back down from the threat of ejection, some believers continued to recite the Lord's Prayer while others just whispered their own prayers. The local ABC affiliate also reports that some audience members were removed from the meeting by police. And about a third of the crowd left the chamber after Bare's warning, while the rest remained.
"If somebody is representing Satan and wants to invoke curses, that's why you have such a representation of people coming based on the Word of God," a local pastor said during the meeting.
"I saw a community of people come together and take a stand for what was right," one unidentified resident told WEAR-TV.
Another unnamed Pensacola resident told the local news station that invoking any name other than Jesus could lead to "disaster."
"When you invoke a name under Heaven that is not the Lord Jesus Christ, you almost invite cursing or disaster to fall on you," she said.
The prayer sparked a debate on whether the town should switch to a moment of silence before council meetings or continue with its tradition of invocations.
Suhor, who has been a strong opponent of a giant, 25-foot cross displayed on public property at the town's Bayview Park, argued in favor of a moment of silence.
"Adopt some damn rules, quit pandering for votes, quit pushing Christian privilege as we have seen with the Bayview cross and so many other issues," Suhor shouted during the meeting. "Instead, go to a moment of silence that let's everybody pray or not, according to their own conscience."
According to WEAR, the council considered switching to a moment of silence but the measure was rejected. However, the council agreed that a review of invocation procedures was necessary and plans to make revisions that ensure people of all and even no faith get an equal opportunity.