The Satanist Next Door: Insights of Religious Tolerance and Equality

Sunday night, CNN’s documentary show Life with Lisa Ling featured Satanism, focusing on the story of its members including their desire to use their beliefs to promote equality in American society as well as to protest what they describe as oppressive values and rules of the Judeo-Christian religions.

Before the program aired, host Lisa Ling made a promotional appearance on the network’s Newsroom on Friday with anchor Brooke Baldwin. During the two’s discussion, Ling provided insights on the actual nature of the Satanic Temple. According to Ling “they [the Satanic movement] really are kind of a political action group, and they exist to protest the imposition of what they say are Judeo-Christian values on our political system, in our politics, and in public life.”

Ling added that “even though this group is trying to use one symbol, really they’re trying to get people in this country to recognize and appreciate people of all different faiths.”

The two also highlighted Ling’s interview with a mother who became interested in joining the Satanic Temple after her gay son committed suicide. She believes his downfall was caused by the discrimination he experienced at school. According to Ling, the woman’s son had already suffered too much pressure from friends and relatives because he was gay. The school’s strict implementation of Christian values may have been the tipping point for the young man to take his life.

In Ling’s conversation with the grieving mother, she asked if the latter blames the Christian religion for his son’s death. The unnamed mother never hesitated to answer a yes: “Oh yes, absolutely, I blame any religion that thinks they can dictate not only our marital laws, but who you love. There are a lot of people hurting because of these Christian precepts. I don’t want any more kids to have to go through what he went through.”

The show has also shed some light on Satanism and corrected the common misconceptions about this belief. Part of the show is Ling’s interview with Michael Mars, a member of the Satanic Temple and also one of the men behind the controversial “snaketivity,” the Satanists’ version of the Christmas nativity displayed at the Michigan state capitol.

Mars reiterated that Satanists don’t worship the Devil, Satan, or any other deity. Although Satanists use snakes and the concept of Lucifer, these according to Mars are only considered as symbols. Mars cites that “The snake itself is to be representative of Lucifer when he chose to lead man to knowledge in the Garden of Eden. We support the idea of Lucifer as a metaphorical figure and his influence on man.”

Interestingly, the Satanist also admitted that Christmas is being celebrated by the Temple’s members. According to Mars, it’s a time for them to be with their families. Additionally, he stressed that the group believes with religious tolerance and equality, that no one group should have dominating voice than the others.

The Satanic Temple believes in seven fundamental tenets which include the following: compassion and empathy towards all creatures; struggle for justice; the inviolability of an individual’s body; respect for others’ freedom; scientific-based beliefs; correcting one’s mistake because people are naturally fallible; and commitment to nobility in action and thought with focus on the spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice.

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