It used to be that the Devil’s greatest trick was convincing mankind that he does not exist. Now it appears the Prince of Darkness, in league with The Satanic Temple, has chosen a different tact by revealing himself as not only real but a legitimate friend to after school Elementary kids.
In 2001, Evangelicals across the country won a major Supreme Court victory with Good News Club v. Milford Central School, which said that when a government institution (i.e. public school) offers a “limited public forum,” such as an after school club, they cannot restrict the type of speech that occurs there.
The ruling, reports the Los Angeles Times, allowed Christian groups to “proselytize” on government grounds. What it also did, as Justice David Souter is observed by The Washington Post as having dissented against, was open civic gatherings and similar programs to the invocations from any “church, synagogue, or mosque.”
The Satanic Temple, formed in 2014, was quick to realize the opportunity Good News Club had provided them. Purportedly founded to counter former President George W. Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Temple is a self-described political activist group that claims it does not believe in a real Satan, but ascribes more to the symbolism of Satan as rebelling against the “tyranny over the human mind” that organized religions hold, The Washington Post quotes founder Lucien Grieves as stating.
The Temple initiative, commonly called After School Satan, requires parental consent before the children can participate in “the development of reasoning and social skills.” The group says “meetings will include a healthful snack, literature lesson, creative learning activities, a science lesson, puzzle solving, and an art project.”
Public schools have generally selected from one of three tactics when dealing with the After School Satan clubs:
1. Accept the club
2. Fight the club as illegitimate
3. Remove all after school clubs from school
The Washington Post reports that school districts in New York, Boston, Utah, Arizona, Minneapolis, Detroit, San Jose, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Florida have allowed After School Satan to share their facilities.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. school system “appears to be the only school district to outright reject the club,” citing a lack of minimum school approval. The vague wording has motivated The Satanic Temple to ponder a future legal challenge. Such a tact may bode well for the Satanists because, as the Times notes, “The Christians may have the force of Heaven behind them, but the Satanists have the U.S. Supreme Court.”
It is option No. 3, however, that some observers feel may be the real reason for the After School Satan push. In August, The Federalist, published an article about the Satanic Temple’s initiative. In the piece, it is reported that the Temple has taken to throwing the baby out with the bathwater just to remove Christian groups from public schools.
The article goes on to state, “by positioning themselves as faux Satanists instead of as the After-School Atheist Club, for example, they recklessly risk closing the forum to every group, even ones that have nothing to do with religion, like the Girl Scouts and 4-H. This potentially destroys the forum to save it from the Christians. Their opposition to evangelical Christianity should not result in denying equal access to everyone.”
The charge of being fake Satanists is in reference to another satanic organization. According to The Federalist, the Church of Satan, founded in 1969, is the “official voice of true Satanism.” In a statement published on their website in August, the Church criticizes the Temple’s after school program as being in violation of a satanic tenet against any kind or proselytizing of minors.
Another blow to The Satanic Temple’s credibility comes from the very words spoken by its founder, Mr. Grieves. In an interview with Vice, Grieves, who was known as Doug Mesner then, refers to his group’s purpose as being a satirical attack on Christianity as well as the “poison pill” of the weakened Church and State separation. In other words, they are defined by what and who they are against, a rather illiberal notion to be supported by the public education system.
The Satanic Temple continues to push for the opening of more programs across the country, so look for the eternal struggle between God’s call for faith versus Satan’s temptation of vast mortal and carnal knowledge to be coming to a school near you soon.
By Chris Knoll
Photo Courtesy The Satanic Temple