Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he should have thought twice before converting a disused council chamber office into a prayer room, following attempts by a group of Satanists from the use for a blessing.
- Tom Tate says prayer room should have been called ‘RU OK room’
- The room is no longer accessible to the public after Satanists tried to use it for blessing
- Mr Tate says appointment of controversial spiritual adviser will help coordinate church and council resources
The prayer room was set up in March following the appointment of the mayor’s longtime spiritual advisor, Sue Baynes, as the council’s pastoral advisor.
Ms Baynes has publicly defended the controversial mandate of the Seven Mountains – a Dominionist religious movement that seeks to gain influence in seven spheres of society, including government, education and the media – and focus on beliefs evangelical Christians.
During a church service in November 2021, Ms Baynes also warned that a ‘demonic stronghold’ had been established at the city’s House of the Arts (HOTA), resulting in a ‘spiritual battle’.
In response, the Noosa Temple of Satan attempted to reserve the council prayer hall in April for a satanic blessing – a request which was denied.
Should have been the ‘RU OK’ room
Mr Tate said he ‘didn’t name the room’ but had since reconsidered.
“If I had to do my time again, I would have called it an RU OK room,” he said.
“It’s a quiet time, mainly for our staff, or someone has already passed through security to meet the council inside and say ‘I need to breastfeed, let’s go’.”
Mr Tate said the experience with Satanists had brought to light the problems in the prayer room.
“God works in different ways, he even used Satanists to help me realize that I should have called it RU OK room,” he said.
“So thank you very much.”
No public access
Mr Tate said the prayer room is no longer available for public bookings.
“The decision on whoever [is] getting into our building is an operational matter,” he said.
“Council security made the decision to violate their protocol…because it’s on staff.
The ABC understands that some councilors only learned of the prayer room decision when signage was installed earlier this year.
Mr Tate has previously declined to answer the cost of the room or Ms Baynes’ appointment to taxpayers, but said those figures should be available in the council’s annual report.
“We want to sweat the assets of the board,” he said.
“We spend $500, clean the carpet, put some chairs in there.”
“Connectivity” of Church-Council Efforts
Mr Tate said Ms Baynes worked two days a week to coordinate church charity efforts with council resources.
“In disaster recovery mode, we get so many calls from kind-hearted people who are going, how can we help,” Mr Tate said.
“After 12 months, you’ll see it’s been wonderful connectivity.”