By Amanda Godfrey
The Mirror Staff
“The Satanic Temple is prepared to take legal action if we are denied our constitutional right to establish these clubs in schools where the Good News Club is operating”
The Devil’s Advocates
Organizers of Satan Clubs seek to counterbalance Christian religious clubs at public schools.
Satan Clubs may soon be joining the variety of religious clubs operating on public school campuses.
The Satanic Temple, headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, is pushing for After School Satan Clubs (ASSC) to be established in public schools.
The Satan Club claims that its objectives are to encourage science and to accept all religions. As their website states, “scientific rationalism” is “our best model for understanding the natural world.”
The Satanic Temple insists that the clubs don’t worship a personal Satan or encourage evil, only that the establishment of the ASSC is a serious matter to the group. The group even has their own set of principles called the Seven Tenets, a sort of Satanist code of ethics.
One advocate for this club and founder of the Satanic Temple of Seattle, Lillith Starr, is seeking a balance against Christian clubs in public grade schools, with the broader aim being to fight evangelism.
“If religion is brought into public schools, we think it’s very important that there be more than one religious voice represented; otherwise it could seem like the school is giving special preference to one religion, which is unconstitutional,” Starr told The Van Nuys Mirror when she was asked about what she wishes to achieve.
“We want to provide another option wherever the Good News child evangelism club is being offered. While the Good News Club scares and shames children into believing they are worthless sinners who deserve death, we will provide another, more positive alternative, teaching children about science and rationalism and giving them the critical thinking skills needed for them to make their own choices about the world.”
Starr first joined the Satanic Temple in 2014 when she saw that the organization was fighting for women’s reproductive rights, LGBT individual rights, and the rights of children to be free from abusive corporal punishment in schools.
“I am proud to be part of a religious organization that actively fights to protect the rights of those hurt by the encroachment of religion on our laws and government. The Satanic Temple’s focus on compassion, reason and justice aligns with my personal ethical code.”
Starr succeeded in establishing her first club through court rulings. She continues to target other schools, mainly on the West Coast, to compete with Christian clubs such as the Good News Club.
This movement has received much criticism from parents and church members who oppose the idea of Satanism.
Students at Van Nuys High School also have strong ideas about a Satanic club.
“Even though I’m Catholic, I’m fine with all religions, but not Satanic clubs,” said Maureen Bompat, a Junior. “I accept all religions, but I don’t think Satan is the answer. I don’t think they should use Satan as a title. I see the point of scientific evolution, but Satanism is wrong.”
Although many individuals strongly oppose establishing Satan clubs, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government has no right to discriminate against religions and viewpoints when it comes down to a “limited public forum” such as an after-school club.
“As an individual, I don’t see a problem with any club, with any point of view, because you have the 1st Amendment right of expression and freedom of religion,” U.S History and Government teacher Robert Crosby stated.
“But from my limited knowledge of groups who want to start Satanic clubs, I would argue that they are using the word “Satan” to differentiate themselves from other groups.”
However, the U.S. government cannot oppose the religion or viewpoints of any after school club. If the court were to rule against the establishment of an After School Satan Club, it would be interpreted as the closing of the Good News Club as well.
Satanic Temple organizers in cities like Detroit, Washington, and Los Angeles have already approached school districts, requesting permission to begin after school Satan Clubs.
The Los Angeles School District has directly denied the club’s application to establish a Satan club when replying to a proposal at nearby Chase Elementary School in Panorama City.
They put out a statement that said, “The proposed club does not meet the minimum requirement of having the school’s approval and, therefore, will not be offered at the school.”
LAUSD states that the denial has nothing to do with the after school club itself, but because the local satanists haven’t submitted the required permits.
“If an organization does not meet the basic requirements, it will not be approved for permit or license at the school,” the district’s statement reads.
Even with the hostility, satanists are continuing to respond by pushing the Satanic Club movement and spreading their ideals.
“The Satanic Temple is prepared to take legal action if we are denied our constitutional right to establish these clubs in schools where the Good News Club is operating,” Starr states.