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Oklahoma City stance on 'Black Mass' upsets Catholic archbishop

The Catholic leader says in an email the city’s legal staff surely could “find a way around this.”
by William Crum Published: July 16, 2014

Archbishop Paul Coakley says Oklahoma City should have the “courage” to prohibit a Civic Center production mocking Catholic beliefs, a course of action City Manager Jim Couch expects would result in a lawsuit the city probably would lose, at significant cost to taxpayers.

A satanist has rented a small, basement theater in Civic Center Music Hall to stage a “Black Mass” on Sept. 21. The organizer says the event is similar to a Catholic Mass, but involving a sacrifice to the devil, a practice known as inversion of the Christian ritual.

Coakley issued a statement condemning the production earlier this month, then in an email exchange with Couch wrote, “You must have a legal team there that can find a way around this.”

“I think something as outrageous as this requires a measure of moral courage on the part of the city of Oklahoma City,” Coakley wrote on July 8. “I am disappointed the city would be unwilling to risk the expense of a lawsuit to prevent such an offensive outrage to so many of its citizens.”

Coakley first forwarded on July 3 a news release issued by Bill Donohue of The Catholic League in New York. Donohue warned, “Oklahoma City had better think twice about this.” Donohue also condemned last December’s production at the Civic Center of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” a play with homosexual characters that satirizes biblical stories.

Couch wrote back on July 8, pointing out the city and Civic Center “are required by law to rent space to individuals and organizations so long as they comply with our policies and ordinances and have paid the established rental fees.” For those who object to a production, Couch suggested the “most effective course of action is to contact the show promoter and voice your concerns.”

Coakley responded within the hour, thanking Couch while writing, “I must say that I am not satisfied with the answer.”

The archbishop pointed out organizer Adam Daniels is a sex offender and said the Black Mass is “vile, violent, sexually explicit, exploitative of women and blasphemous. It is a hostile attack on the Christian faith and the Catholic Eucharist. Does not that justify putting a stop to this?”

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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