TALLAHASSEE — A group of self-proclaimed Satanists on Friday praised Florida Gov. Rick Scott for signing a bill into law last year that lets Florida school boards permit student-initiated prayer and other "inspirational messages."
During their rally, a white sign with black lettering was stretched across the steps of Florida's Old Capitol proclaiming "Hail Satan! Hail Rick Scott!"
A high priest wearing goat horns and four "minions" dressed in black, hooded robes were joined by a spokesman, sound technician and camera crew.
The devil, though, was in the details.
The spokesman, Lucien Greaves of Cambridge, Mass., earlier this month had been listed on the Actors Access website as the casting director in an ad seeking unpaid, nonunion actors in Tallahassee. They were wanted to perform in a "mockumentary" titled "The Satanic Temple."
Greaves insisted it wasn't all a hoax, although a smile creased his face as he said it.
"Mockumentary" wasn't his terminology, Greaves said. He said the video crew was shooting public service announcements and a history of Satanism for internal use.
"We're doing it in a humorous, kind of lighthearted fashion," Greaves said. "We wanted to do old-style, like '80s Mormon kind of PSA-type things and keep it funny."
He added that "we don't want to be Gothic, doom and gloom all the time."
When asked for a response, Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said, "This is a great country. Everyone has a voice."
The high priest, who identified himself only as "Dark Eminence," and one of the minions, a teenager who said her name is Cassandra Wagner, addressed the media and a few onlookers. The girl said the school prayer law would give her an opportunity to explain to her classmates that Satanism is misunderstood.
The group handed out religious tracts on delinquency and Halloween that describe Satan as having the "compassion and wisdom of an angel" while being subordinate to God and God's proxy "in the sphere of the physical." The pamphlets feature comic-book like stories, mimicking tracts often handed out by conservative Christians.
The girl, though, is unlikely to get a chance to present any inspirational messages in school. That's because none of Florida's 67 school districts has yet adopted rules permitting them. Groups that advocate the separation of church and state have made it clear they will sue any district that allows such messages.
While the Dark Eminence was speaking, a man in shorts and sunglasses shouted: "You believe you're going to Hell?"
"I believe it and I'm very excited about it," the high priest said.
"You're excited to go to Hell?" the heckler responded. "Awesome."