The Satanic Temple issues preemptive corrections to inevitable false claims about their after school program
In the past we have seen our campaigns, beliefs, and intentions shamelessly misrepresented — particularly in cases where we’ve asked to represent ourselves in public open forums, so we know exactly what we can expect. In some cases, the accusations and commentary are such obvious projections of our opposition’s own failings and concealed intentions that our own corrections are hardly necessary. Nonetheless, let us be perfectly clear about the nature of our after school program, so that we might attenuate the intentional misunderstandings and irresponsible misrepresentations that are sure to arise. Here are some preemptive corrections we’d like to issue:
- Satanists are not being granted any special privileges that are being denied to Christians. A popular persecution narrative is being sold by evangelical bloviators that absurdly presumes any objection to their attempts for exclusive privilege is discrimination against them. Thus, we hear absurd and backward claims such as those who insist gay rights are an expression of anti-Christian discrimination. To be perfectly clear, our in-school activities are legitimized and necessitated by the pre-existing activities of evangelical groups (particularly the Child Evangelism Fellowship’s “Good News Clubs). They do not have an exclusive right to after school clubs, and our after school clubs do not have any adverse impact on their rights. Free speech is not zero sum. For more information about how the Good News Clubs served to create the need for After School Satan Clubs and enabled us to be present into public schools, please read “How The Evangelical Liberty Counsel Opened Door to Satanism in Public Schools.”
- This should not be contextualized as a battle of Satanists against Christians. This would give the Liberty Counsel and the CEF far too much credit. By no stretch of the imagination do the CEF represent a religious majority of Christians in the United States, and they themselves are clear about this. According to the website GoodNewsClubs.info, “In 1981, Mr. Reese Kaufmann, CEF’s current President, wrote to Dr. Ian Paisley of Ulster’s vituperatively anti-Catholic Free Presbyterian Church, which has close ties to Bob Jones University, to assure Dr. Paisley of CEF’s strong separatist fundamentalist credentials”:
“CEF does not desire to work with each and every group, denomination, organization, church, or individual. CEF will work only with Bible-believing churches and individuals which are in agreement with our doctrinal statement, which are practising separation from the world in doctrine and practice, and which do not work with any group or individual in a ministry context that would be contrary in doctrine or practice and would in any way cause compromise to the Fellowship. For example, CEF does not work in any way with those who participate in what is commonly known as the charismatic movement; CEF is not associated with the National Council of Churches; CEF is not involved in what might best be described as the ecumenical movement by sponsorship, cooperation, or participation; [and] CEF is not working in any way with the Roman Catholic Church.”
The CEF does not represent the whole of American Christians and, in fact, they seem to have an acrimonious relationship with a significant population of Christians. There happens to be no shortage of Christians who understand the value of Church/State separation and prefer that religious matters be left to individual families and their communities of worship and/or practice. Like us, these Christians believe that religious doctrine should not be insidiously coerced upon children in public schools.
- No, this program wouldn’t be “better” if we merely called ourselves Humanists. We are Satanists. That is how we identify, and it is how we’ll continue to identify. It makes no difference who does or does not choose to recognize an atheistic Satanic philosophy as a legitimate religion. Satanism is the foundation of our sense of cultural identity and we’re not willing to change how we contextualize our own lives to make ourselves more palatable to others. Just the same, there are those who will lament that our program, introduced into public schools, would be better for children if done under the label of Humanism, Skepticism, or anything less controversial than Satanism. We wholeheartedly disagree. As we are intentionally and pointedly placing After School Satan Clubs in schools where proselytizing evangelicals have established clubs, we think that the counter-balance of a Satanic club isn’t simply acceptable, but necessary. While the Good News Clubs try to invade children’s minds with traumatic and unhealthy guilt-ridden admonishments — such as that they “deserve God’s punishment for sin, which is death” — the very presence of Satanic after school clubs demonstrate that there are opposing religious beliefs held by responsible, respectable, moral people who live productive lives without the burden of superstitious fear. For children to see and understand that “blasphemous” names and iconography can be utilized by good people without repercussions, sends a positive message encouraging critical examination and free thought.
- We are not interested in converting children to Satanism. Unlike the Child Evangelism Fellowship, which openly seeks to convert children to their religious view through fear of eternal suffering, The Satanic Temple does not believe in imposing a one-size-fits-all approach to religious opinion. As Satanists, we believe that science is the best arbiter of truth. We see the quest for knowledge as a noble pursuit, and we believe in personal autonomy. However, nobody needs to be a Satanist to benefit from any of these things, and children should be given access to a variety of comparative opinions with which they can ultimately decide what is best for them. After School Satan Clubs are conducted by Satanists in accordance with our values, but participating children are neither required to identify as Satanists, nor will we ask that they, at any point, do so.
These are surely only some of the corrections that will be necessary as blind outrage builds momentum. In many cases, admittedly, none of these efforts of elaboration and clarification will help, though it really doesn’t entirely matter. Thanks to Liberty Counsel, the law is on our side.