SALEM, Mass. (Christian Examiner) – The Satanic Temple is planning on launching an afterschool program for children in public schools, the Washington Post has reported.
Organizers of the new "After School Satan Club" (ASSC) claim their objective is to counter the large number of "Good News Clubs" established in elementary schools all over the country. That number stands at more than 3,500.
"It's critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think," Doug Mesner, co-founder of the Satanic Temple told the paper.
Mesner goes by the "professional name" Lucien Greaves as he advocates for the Satanic Temple. He told the paper that Good News Clubs, which teach children Bible stories and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are indoctrinating children.
"While the Good News Clubs focus on indoctrination, instilling children with a fear of hell and God's wrath, After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism," Mesner said. "We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of an everlasting other-worldly horror."
The group, which has launched a website with information about the club, already has clubs established in Georgia, California, Florida, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Missouri, Arizona, and Washington, D.C. The area also looking into campuses in Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
The video, which is supposed to attract elementary school age students on the club's website, isn't exactly enticing to children – it is part horror film, part informational video. It features creepy images of crawling spiders, plastic dolls, dimly-lit school hallways and children dancing around a Maypole. Add to that the sound of Satanic chanting and it isn't likely parents will be rushing to encourage Johnny and Sally to attend the club.
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That isn't exactly the goal anyway, according to the Satanic Temple. They claim they are trying to make a point: if Christians can do it, they can also.
That is actually a position with which even conservative Christian attorney Mat Staver agrees.
Staver founded and leads Liberty Counsel, the same group that defender Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Staver's Liberty Counsel and the group Alliance Defending Freedom were behind the effort in 2001 to get schools to allow Christian clubs after hours.
They won the case in the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled prohibiting Christian clubs after hours violated free speech. Afterward, the Child Evangelism Fellowship began establishing thousands of Good News Clubs in schools across the country.
"I would definitely oppose after-school Satanic clubs, but they have a First Amendment right to meet," Staver told the paper.
"I suspect, in this particular case, I can't imagine there's going to be a lot of students participating in this. It's probably dust they're kicking up and is likely to fade away in the near future for lack of interest."
In the letter sent to the schools where the group hopes to establish the ASSC's, the Satanic Temple references Staver's Supreme Court case of 2001.
"The decision stated that religious clubs such as the Good News Club must be given the same access to school facilities accorded to any other non-school related group. ... While the Good News Club is 'working together with parents and the schools to build solid moral and spiritual character into the lives of their children' based on their religious point of view, The Satanic Temple (TST) also plans to enrich the lives of children in your district," the letter said.
The groups claims it seeks "benevolence and empathy" among people and stresses common sense, justice, individual liberty for secularists and "politically aware Satanists."
The clubs will be led by "caring Satanists from local chapters in the community near the school," the letter also stated.
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