The Satanic Temple first came to national prominence when it tried to erect a statue of Baphomet outside of a courthouse that was planning on putting a statue of the Ten Commandments there. Since then, they have fought for the separation of church and state around the country, often with showy tactics like the Baphomet statue.
Now, they’ve begun working towards developing after-school Satan clubs in elementary schools, which will focus not on teaching the Black Mass, but instead on “teaching reason and science,” as the temple told school districts across the country. The Temple does not actually worship Satan, and instead uses him as a metaphor for members’ own atheism. But they are devoted to keeping religion from being pushed by government, especially in elementary schools.
The Satanic Temple’s main target with this initiative is the Good News Club, which sponsors evangelical Christian clubs in elementary schools around the country, sometimes focused on kids as young as kindergarten. Many parents were unaware that the group even existed, or that they had after-school programs in their neighborhood. But that is part of the goal of the after-school Satan programs—to draw attention to the fact that although schools aren’t allowed to teach religion, there are legal loopholes that allow religious groups to use public schools for extracurricular activities.
In the eyes of the Satanic Temple, doing so poses a threat to the separation of church and state and comes close to pushing religion on people (in this case, young children) who might not be interested in that religion. And in most cases, the Good News Club is unopposed, as a 2001 law allows any religious group to create groups like this but few others have.
The introduction of Satanic clubs is designed to offer kids an alternative to religious groups, and to draw attention to what the Satanic Temple, and many other people, see as a problem in the current world of public education.
What do you think of the Satanic Temple’s after-school Satan clubs? Do you see them as a reasonable response to issues around separation of church and state, or do you think they’re just a publicity stunt? How do you feel about religious groups in public schools? Please share your thoughts in the comments.