A local group has rented space in the Oklahoma City Civic Center for a satanic Black Mass, prompting Catholic Archbishop Paul Coakley to issue a statement questioning whether that is an appropriate use of public space.
“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,” said Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. “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.”
Adam Daniels, of Oklahoma City, who described himself as high priest of the satanic group hosting the event, described a Black Mass as “a ritual that is similar to a Catholic Mass, but done in such a way that you are offering a sacrifice to Satan to receive his blessing.”
“The goal for the event is to continue the satanic movement — to keep fighting for our rights for religious freedom,” said Daniels, 35.
Archbishop Coakley wants city leaders to reconsider allowing the Sept. 21 event.
“For more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide and more than 200,000 Catholics in Oklahoma, the Mass is the most sacred of religious rituals,” he said. “In a spirit of hope, I ask 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, the Civic Center’s general manager, said he respects the archbishop’s stance, but the Civic Center is a public building and the city must abide by the First Amendment and allow it to be leased to any group that agrees to abide by all laws and city ordinances.
Brown said the same basic group, operating under different names, has previously leased space for three similar events, beginning in 2010.
“The first time they drew about 40-some people, the next time it drew eight people and the last time it drew no people — they had zero attendance,” Brown said. “I was surprised when we were contacted by them again.”
The group is leasing the smallest space at the Civic Center, which has a capacity of 95 people, he said.
Daniels said tickets to the event sell for $17.50.
If the event moves forward, Coakley said church leaders will consider other peaceful, prayerful and respectful options to demonstrate opposition.