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If there’s one thing the Satanic Temple is really good at, it’s calling out the blatant hypocrisy of the Christian church. The temple is also a huge proponent of the separation of church and state, which might not be apparent on its face but makes sense when you examine the temple’s public battles: The Satanic Temple is adamant that if Christian groups are able to broadcast themselves publicly — and in schools, no less — then all religions should be afforded the same privileges, even if they are fans of the pentagram and Baphomet.
In achieving the Satanic Temple’s goal of ostracizing Christian thought from public schools — where it has no place (thanks, Constitution!) — the temple is seeking to make learning institutions a safe place for all children. That, of course, means a better environment for queer students, who are perhaps most affected by the implementation of “Christian values.”
Here, then, are 3 ways the Satanic Temple fights for a better experience for queer (and all) students:
1. The Satanic Temple is fighting to end corporal punishment in public schools.
There are currently 19 states where corporal punishment of public school students is A-OK, and the Satanic Temple isn’t having that.
The temple is campaigning to end corporal punishment by launching the Protect Children Project. Regardless of their religious affiliation, children can register with the project, which triggers a notification sent to the child’s school board saying any physical harm that comes to them is a violation of civil rights.
According to a press release from the project, “The Protect Children Project utilizes the First Amendment to protect public school students from being subjected to corporal punishment, solitary confinement, physical restraints and the deprivation of bathroom access as these abusive practices violate our religious belief of bodily inviolability.”
Even more exciting, the temple has specifically decided to go after the school board of Springtown, Texas, erecting a giant billboard along the state’s Route 199. (The back story: In 2012, a male teacher broke school policy by spanking two female students, but rather than punish the teacher, they simply changed the rules. Now male teachers can enact corporal punishment against female students as long as a female faculty member is present.)
The billboard, which aims to gin up students for the Protect Children Project, reads “Never be hit in school again. Exercise your religious rights.”
2. The Satanic Temple has launched After School Satan Clubs.
Always seeking religious equality (which roughly means you either allow no religion in public school or all of ’em), the Satanic Temple has launched these after-school clubs in school districts that flaunt after-school Christian programs.
If you’re not familiar with the Good News Club, it’s an after-school program designed to “evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Well, the Satanic Temple last year vowed to open an After School Satan Club (ASSC) in nine school districts where the Good News Club operates. It’s only fair, right? What are public school’s Satanic kiddies supposed to do after class lets out?
Of course, the temple has a lot more work to do. As of 2011, Good News Club claimed to be operating in more than 3,500 public schools.
“Unlike the Child Evangelism Fellowship [the parent organization of the Good News Club], which openly seeks to convert children to their religious view through fear of eternal suffering, we don’t believe in imposing our religious opinion,” Doug Mesner, spokesperson and co-founder of ASSC, told Vice. “The After School Satan Club curriculum has been constructed by professionals who have prior experience with running secular educational kids groups. All educational lessons promote a rationalist, scientific, non-superstitious worldview.”
The clubs are hoping to meet once per month, and a signed parental letter of consent will be required for every student who wishes to participate. Like many after-school clubs, the Satanic Temple’s meetups will feature literature and science lessons, art, creative-thinking exercises, and snacks, according to the announcement letter. The men and women running the programs all have a background in education, and the temple is performing criminal background checks on any adult who would like to get involved.
3. The Satanic Temple has delivered coloring books featuring the ‘Dark Lord’ to schools nationwide.
Sure, this one sounds more like a publicity stunt, but the objective is the same: In the United States, no single religion should receive preferential treatment from the government.
Specifically, in 2014 the Satanic Temple went to a Florida school district that allowed the distribution of Christian pamphlets and Bibles, and the temple distributed Satanic coloring books featuring connect-the-dots inverted pentagrams and “kid-friendly Satanic lessons.”
“If a public school board is going to allow religious pamphlets and full Bibles to be distributed to students — as is the case in Orange County, Florida — we think the responsible thing to do is to ensure that these students are given access to a variety of differing religious opinions, as opposed to standing idly by while one religious voice dominates the discourse and delivers propaganda to youth,” said the Satanic Temple’s spokesperson, Lucien Greaves. “I am quite certain that all of the children in these Florida schools are already aware of the Christian religion and it’s Bible, and this might be the first exposure these children have to the actual practice of Satanism. We think many students will be very curious to see what we offer.”
Those Satanic Temple guys sure do have balls.
This article was originally published on Mar. 19, 2017