The Satanic Temple Challenges Conservative Christianity’s Influence in Government, Women’s Rights and Public Schools

By KKDrunkinski (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
By KKDrunkinski (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
In an interview with the New York Times, The Satanic Temple’s two founders discuss the religion’s origins and recent accomplishments toward reducing Christian privilege in government and schools.

The Satanic Temple was founded in 2012 when two men met and shared an idea. Mr. Jarry and Mr. Greaves, pseudonyms that the co-founders of the Satanic Temple use, met at a Harvard event and clicked immediately. However, the idea first occurred whenMr. Jarry felt there “should be some kind of counter” for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. A combination of humor and sincerity combined as he thought about a faith-based organization that could meet Bush’s criteria for funding while remaining solidly anti-religion. He thought it would destroy the entire program.

Malcom Jarry and Lucien Greaves sat down to speak with New York Times, under the requirement that their true names not be revealed. Over the course of their discussion, they shared the origins of their group, along with a few of their past accomplishments and their future goals. Only last month, the Satanic Temple found victory when the Supreme Court instructed that the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds in Oklahoma be removed. Though they were not directly involved, they had plans to erect their own statue, one of Baphomet, to be placed alongside the monument. They speculate this may have given the court clarity on why the Ten Commandments monument should not have been on Capitol grounds. In addition, they raised $800 to help a woman in Missouri reach St. Louis for an abortion. Last year, they held a “Pink Mass” outside the grave of the mother of the Westboro Baptist Church founder, Fred Phelps.

The Satanic Temple grew quickly to 20 chapters and 20,000 Facebook followers. Their religion is primarily hosted online, through the use of satire and humor. Jarry felt the opportunity of a Satanic organization and the impact it could have on the world. Meanwhile, Greaves is attracted through the “special meaning” he finds in it. He says that he feels it is a “way of celebrating an outsider status.” The two recalled a moment they shared when they first joined forces. Governor Rick Scott, of Florida, passed a bill that allowed for voluntary prayer at school functions. The two travelled to show their mock support of Rick Scott, shaking his hand and proclaiming “how happy [they] were because now [their] Satanic children could pray to Satan in school.” Meanwhile, Greaves stood behind the governor with a banner that read ‘Hail Satan! Hail Rick Scott!’

As a religion, the temple doesn’t believe in receiving tax benefits for being a religious organization. Thus, they are not exempt. They don’t divulge their budget used for the temple, which is in stark contrast to most religious institutions today, In addition, they have seven fundamental tenets that include “Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.” As far as their upcoming plans, they discussed lawsuits primarily. They intend to use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to remove abortion waiting periods, as well as filing suit against public schools that use “in-school isolation and deprivation of bathroom access”, as, according to Jarry, these are “physical or psychological abuse” that violate the temple’s principle of “sovereignty of mind and body.” Lastly, they aim to work out what they should do with Baphomet, the statue. So far, it looks like it will be heading to Detroit.


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