Blog Post

Here We Go Again: Oklahoma City to Stage "Black Mass"

Inside the OK City Civic Center Inside the OK City Civic Center

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City is decrying a recent announcement by the Oklahoma City Civic Center stating their intent to host a "Black Mass performance" on September 21, 2014 which will be conducted by a local satanic church whose leader is a registered sex offender.

Aleteia is reporting that news of the Mass broke yesterday when tickets for the Sept. 21 event went on sale.

"The Black Mass has been a feared ritual, and now it's being brought into the light!" the website says. "This will be not only enlightening but educational as well. This Black Mass will [be] conducted for the public to attend with certain adaptations to allow for a legal celebration."

According to Adam Daniels, leader of the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu satanic "church", the mass will include a "female altar" which is normally a nude woman and include a consecrated host which has been "corrupted by sexual fluids".  This host then becomes the sacrifice of the mass.

"We’re trying to bring about tolerance for our religious freedom for the satanic religion," Daniels told Aleteia. "We have a legally-filed church...and bringing out the black mass as one of the rituals of satanism to educate the public."

He also said that the September event is meant to be "a defiant act to show the Catholics that Satanism will stand up and fight for our religious rights."

This isn't Daniels' first foray into the public sphere. He has previously organized a demonstration of a "satanic exorcism" and a ritual he called "The Apostasy of Jesus Christ." According to this blog on Patheos, written by a resident of Oklahoma City, Daniels last public event had zero attendance.

Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley rightly condemned the planned event and is calling upon community leaders to reconsider whether such a highly offensive event is an appropriate use of public space.

“For more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide and more than 200,000 Catholics in Oklahoma, the Mass is the most sacred of religious rituals,” the archbishop said in a statement. “It is the center of Catholic worship and celebrates Jesus Christ’s redemption of the world by his death and resurrection. In particular, the Eucharist—which we believe to be the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ – is the source and summit of our faith.

“That’s why we’re astonished and grieved that the Civic Center would promote as entertainment and sell tickets for an event that is very transparently a blasphemous mockery of the Mass,” he continued. “The ‘Black Mass’ that is scheduled for the Civic Center in September is a satanic inversion and distortion of the most sacred beliefs not only of Catholics, but of all Christians."

He asked "those who are allowing this event" to reconsider whether this is an appropriate use of public space. "We trust that community leaders—and, in particular, the board members of the Oklahoma City Civic Center—do not actually wish to enable or encourage such a flagrantly inflammatory event and can surely remedy this situation."

Jim Brown, general manager of the Civic Center, is taking the "Pontius Pilate" approach and washing his hands of the affair, claiming that they are a public facility and are required by law to book all comers as long as they're not doing anything illegal.

"We’ve had groups like this for several years; they book at our facility," Brown told Aleteia. "Since we’re a City of Oklahoma facility we’re required to abide by all First Amendment rights to the Constitution, which don't allow us to turn away any productions.... As a public facility, we’re required to rent to organizations and individuals as long as they abide by our policies and procedures."

He said Daniels' event will be held in the Civic Center's smallest space which holds a maximum of 92 people.  "Prior, we’ve never had  anywhere close to that number of people attend," Brown said.

Brown also said that Daniels approached the Civic Center about doing a Black Mass on April 27, which was about a week before a Harvard Extension School Culture Studies Club announced their intention to host a Black Mass at Harvard, an event that was eventually cancelled due to the national outrage it sparked.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is warning the Oklahoma Civic Center to "think twice" about staging this Black Mass.

"The Civic Center is funded by the taxpayers, many of whom are Catholic, and they are not obliged to pay for attacks on their religion. Moreover, there are strictures that must be respected. To be specific, performances at the Civic Center are not permitted if they violate 'community standards,' including works that are 'illegal, indecent, obscene, immoral or in any manner publicly offensive.' One does not have to be Catholic to know that if Catholics believe that a consecrated Host is considered sacrosanct, then public displays of desecration meet the criteria as outlined."

He believes the city is setting itself up for a lawsuit.

"In 1984, in Lynch v. Donnelly, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger explicitly said that the Constitution 'affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any.' (My italics.) If a 'Black Mass,' whose sole purpose is to show hostility toward Catholicism, does not meet Burger's dictum, then it has no meaning."

Let Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett (mayor@okc.gov) know how you feel about this offensive event.

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