The organization filed a lawsuit against an elementary school for barring the establishment of an After School Satan Club—simply the latest battle in its ongoing fight for religious freedoms, from “abortion rituals” to education
According to The Satanic Temple, the After School Satan Club doesn’t actually involve Satan—but that hasn’t stopped the school board at Northern Elementary from banning it. After being denied the right to establish the extracurricular education program, The Satanic Temple has filed a civil lawsuit against the Pennsylvania-based school, stating that barring the creation of the club, despite other organizations being able to operate their own programs, violates the First Amendment.
“The After School Satan Clubs meet at select public schools where Good News Clubs also operate,” The Satanic Temple states. “Trained educators provide activities and learning opportunities, which students are free to engage in, or they may opt to explore other interests that may be aided by available resources.”
The devil, as it turns out, advocates—not only for religious freedoms, but the rights of others. The Satanic Temple, which is recognized as a religion by the IRS, announced in September 2021 that it would invoke the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to combat Texas’s controversial anti-abortion law. Commonly known as the “heartbeat bill,” the law bans abortions after six weeks, which is earlier than most women know they’re pregnant, and the time period within which a majority of abortions in the state are performed. In addition, the bill empowers private citizens to sue anyone who “aids and abets an abortion”—effectively saddling abortion clinics and individuals with so much potential liability that legal abortion becomes inaccessible to those who need it. So what, you might ask, does this have to do with Satanism?
Among The Seven Tenets of The Satanic Temple is the belief that “one’s body is inviolable, [and] subject to one’s own will alone”—so, according to Satanists, interfering with the right to obtain a safe abortion is in conflict with their beliefs, which should be protected like other religions’. It’s why they created an “abortion ritual”—claiming that subjecting a woman to a waiting period, or obstructing their access to abortion services, is akin to interfering with religious services such as a baptism or communion.
Social activist Lucien Grieves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, feels they’re fighting an uphill battle—not only with legislation, but also with PR. “People often make assumptions about what we stand for without bothering to research it all,” he states, referencing the fact that, when you get down to it, The Satanic Temple is among the more reasonable religions. Among its core tenets: “One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason”; “The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit”; and ”The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend.”
Taken in context, it’s easy to see why these teachings would lead Satanists to fight for their religious freedom, and speak out against injustice as they see it. After all, the purpose of extracurricular education programs like The After School Satan Club is not to convert children to Satanism, The Temple states. “Proselytization is not our goal… After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us.”