is the after-elementary-school program being offered by an organization called The Satanic Temple
. It was news to me, but the Satanists I met tonight at the FFRF meeting consider themselves to be atheists. They do not believe in a metaphysical God or Satan. Satan instead is a symbol of individual liberty, of the ability we each have to say "I'm out" when someone offers us a load of dogma. Lucifer, of course, is the fallen angel in Christian mythology who refused to tow the line. "...Our metaphor of Satan is a literary construct inspired by authors such as Anatole France and Milton--a rebel angel defiant of autocratic structure and concerned with the material world. Satanism as a rejection of superstitious supernaturalism
This take on Satan is all fine and good if you're inside that particular literary bubble. If you, like me, grew up surrounded by Christian mythology, Satan is THE bad guy. So I was a bit taken aback that they want to call their program this, and their club, and so on. Why choose such a hot button for Christians? Why not call it after school Humanism, or Atheism, or Evolution??? Well they do have a reason. The concept is that Satanists can assert their rights as a religious organization and influence public affairs, reminding the dominant religious groups that in America such privileges are for all religions, not just the chosen ones.
I also learned that the legal definition of a religious organization is one that takes a stand about god. Hence an atheist organization is a religious organization in the good old US of A.
The Oregon chapter of The Satanic Temple is brand new. They've offered After School Satan Clubs at two elementary schools where Good News Clubs are already offered. They plan to teach evolution, and how the world was formed. The only problem is that when the local chaper offered an open house at a local school, the superintendent of the school (Karen Gray
) let all the students and teachers go home an hour early, effectively eliminating the curious audience while also ticking off the parents who had to get out of work an hour early to pick up their babies. Only two students signed up. I wonder how many would have signed up if it was the After School Spaghettimonster Club?
The 2001 Supreme Court Decision called Good News Club vs Milford Central School
resulted in a decision that the Milford school's restriction of the Good News Club violated the Club's free speech rights, and that no Establishment Clause concern justified that violation. If you don't remember the Establishment Clause, it's the part of the First (free speech) Amendment that prohibits the establishment of religion by Congress. So after school programs are allowed access to school premises regardless of content. Free speech is allowed by religious groups as well as boy scouts, debate and chess club...and Corporations, but that's a separate ball of wax.The Good News Club
is a private Christian organization for children. Their goal is to Christianize the next generation. They teach elementary school kids that they are sinners and that they are going to hell if they don't repent and do right by this one particular version of God. The Child Evangelism Fellowship
creates the curriculum and trains instructors. They have over 40,000 volunteers in the US and in 2011 there were 3560 clubs in public schools in the US and over 42,000 clubs worldwide. THIS is how they get off calling it a Christian Nation. And they are effectively brainwashing children before they've developed the powers of discimination to know they've been hoodwinked. A 5th grader is unlikely to really comprehend that the teachings after school are of a different nature from the teachings in school.
Because of the 2001 SCOTUS decision, Satanists have the same rights of access to public schools as Christians, so After School Satan is one answer to the Christianization. The name is intended to provoke Christians, and it does. There have been ample protests. The goal is simple: to get the Christians to remove their programs from public schools, so that then the Satanists will go back into private and stop enticing their children with cool programs and rebelliousness.
One of the coolest things I heard from tonight's programs was the 7 Tenets of The Satanic Temple. They are beautifully enlightened so I will share:
I. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
II. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
III. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
IV. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
V. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
VI. People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
VII. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.
Wouldn't it be nice if THESE were American Values?