The Satanic Temple Sues Pennsylvania Elementary School over Rejection of ‘After School Satan Club’

The Satanic Temple has filed a civil lawsuit against the Northern York County School Board in Pennsylvania, claiming the board discriminated against it by voting down its plan to begin an “After School Satan Club,” while other groups’ clubs have been accepted.

“The First Amendment prohibits a government from considering the popularity of communicative activity when determining whether to facilitate that communicative activity on equal terms with other, similarly situated, groups,” said Mathew Kezhaya, general counsel for The Satanic Temple, according to CBS 21 News.

Kezhaya reportedly claimed the superintendent said the plan for an “After School Satan Club” was rejected due to concern “with public backlash due to the lack of interested parties,” the news report stated.

On Tuesday, the school board voted 8-1 against The Satanic Temple’s “After School Satan Club,” which children as young as 5 years old would have been invited to join, amid outrage by hundreds of parents.

“There is a lot of evil already in this world, so to allow it to come into our school and our community is not OK,” one parent, Laura Vangeli, reportedly said.

Maddie Snelbaker added, “Satan is a liar and Satan will show himself as light when in fact he’s not light.”

OnlySky reported Jodie Osborne of Wellsville also asserted, “I’m sad all we are talking about is Satan.”

“It’s not about Satan, it’s about God,” Osborne continued. “Wrongs will be righted, and if we don’t start standing now, we’re going to lose our nation.”

Kezhaya reportedly said the lawsuit could go on for between 18 months and two years, or longer if the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case.

On its website page titled “Educatin’ with Satan,” the Temple explains the After School Satan Clubs “meet at select public schools where Good News Clubs also operate.”

The group adds:

Proselytization is not our goal, and we’re not interested in converting children to Satanism. 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.

We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors.

The Satanic Temple, however, appears to provide various responses to what it is, and what it is not, depending on the context of the situation.

For example, the Salem, Massachusetts-based group’s website FAQ page states The Satanic Temple does not worship Satan:

[N]or do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural. The Satanic Temple believes that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. Satanists should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.

Nevertheless, according to a report at the Associated Press in April 2019, the group announced on Instagram the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had recognized it as a “church” with tax-exempt status.

That “announcement,” however, appears to have been removed, as has the IRS “confirmation” of The Satanic Temple’s tax-exempt status.

Breitbart News reported in March 2017 watchdog organization Judicial Watch obtained documents that revealed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rushed tax-exempt status for an “After School Satan Club” in Tacoma, Washington, at the same time the federal agency had been denying or delaying conservative and Christian groups’ applications for the same status.

According to Rolling Stone, The Satanic Temple had also previously rejected the idea of pursuing tax-exempt status, but church president Lucien Greaves reversed that stance in 2017 after President Donald Trump signed a “religious freedom” executive order.

The Satanic Temple is also known for touting its annual display of its deity “Baby Baphomet” lying in a manger during the Christmas season at the Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.

In 2016, Vice reported The Satanic Temple had largely become a vocal advocate for abortion rights and allies of Planned Parenthood shortly after Donald Trump became president and promoted pro-life policies.

The Satanic Temple now promotes Satanic abortions as “rituals” that are “sanctified” and “protected by religious liberty laws.”

“In accordance with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), first trimester abortions are now exempt from unnecessary regulations for all individuals practicing The Satanic Temple’s religious abortion ritual,” the Temple’s website states.

“The Satanic abortion ritual provides spiritual comfort and affirms bodily autonomy, self-worth, and freedom from coercive forces with the affirmation of TST’s Seven Tenets,” the Temple states. “The ritual is not intended to convince a person to have an abortion. Instead, it sanctifies the abortion process by instilling confidence and protecting bodily rights when undergoing the safe and scientific procedure.”

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “The Satanic Temple” by Marc Nozell. CC BY 2.0.

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