Satanic Ritual Performed at Meridian Cemetery Gains National Attention

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Meridian, Miss. Pictures that are too graphic to show on television have made their way onto dozens of websites this week, since members of New York's Satanic Temple traveled to Meridian over the weekend to perform a ritual they call a "pink mass" in retaliation to the Westboro Baptist Church at the gravesite of Catherine Johnston, the mother of the church's founder Fred Phelps Jr. Magnolia Cemetery Owner Bill Arlinghaus says he had no prior knowledge that this was going to take place.

"I own the land, so it is my private property. I would not have granted permission, nor will I, and we will be pursuing charges to the maximum extent we can. We've talked to several local and statewide governmental agencies and law enforcement agencies thus far."

In all of his years in the cemetery business, Arlinghaus says he's never seen anything like this where he's worked, and he's never heard of an incident like this occurring anywhere.

"I've been in the cemetery business for 15 years in 5 different states, and I have never seen anything like this. This is the actions of a few, and I don't want to give them overly too much attention because that's really what they're trying to seek."

The Satanic Temple is encouraging people to perform their own "pink masses" at Johnston's gravesite, which include same gender couples kissing in the belief that it will turn Phleps' mother into a homosexual in the afterlife, but Arlinghaus says that kind of activity will not be tolerated in his cemetery.

"We will not only be on the lookout for that, we will do everything we can to have them arrested and removed from the premises. They are not welcome to perform disrespectful ceremonies. All ceremonies that happen at the cemetery must be scheduled through the cemetery and have the advance approval of the cemetery."