BLOG: City hall fielded thousands of angry calls prior to black mass 


click to enlarge Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City. - FILE
  • File
  • Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City.

As Oklahoma City staff juggled thousands of calls from across the country complaining about a “black mass” event to be held at the city-owned Civic Center Music Hall, some were brought to tears and had to step away from the constantly ringing phones.

“Many weren’t very nice,” said one city hall employee. “A lot weren’t very Christian.”

The black mass, which was held in a Civic Center facility on Sunday, drew hundreds of protesters who objected to the use of a public facility to hold an event that openly mocked the Christian faith and Catholic Church.

"In spite of an overwhelming outcry of alarm from around the world, our city leaders will allow this outrage to take place in a publicly supported facility,” Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley wrote on his website a few days before the event. “[City leaders] will not accede to the reasonable requests of local citizens to stop this outright mockery of the Catholic mass nor the reasonable concerns of so many that this satanic ritual invokes powers of evil and invites them into our community.”

City officials said they were bound by the United States Constitution to allow the black mass and could not deny access to the Civic Center on religious grounds.

The controversy drew national attention, partly because of Oklahoma’s reputation as a deeply Christian state. However, Steve Hill, chief of staff for Mayor Mick Cornett, said the vast majority of calls fielded by city hall were from callers outside of Oklahoma.

“It really wasn’t a big issue for our citizens,” Hill said.

Hill said his office accepted over 1,400 calls on the issue and that the majority were from people who were rude towards city staff.

One city hall employee said she had been asked to resign and another said he took numerous profanity-laced calls.

Protesters gathered outside the Civic Center Sunday and police described it as a mostly peaceful scene, although two arrests were made and a bomb threat was received by police. One of the arrested individuals, David Grisham, is a resident of Texas who runs a ministry in the Amarillo area. The other individual arrested by police was from Pennsylvania.

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