After-School Satan Club Sounds Awesome (but Their Branding Could Use Some Work)

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Religious freedom is religious freedom, right? And if you really believe that, then you'd have to be as okay with an after-school Satan club as you would with an after-school Christian club, right? That's the point the Satanic Temple is trying to make with its new project, fittingly titled the After School Satan Club, and its philosophy actually makes a lot of sense (and has nothing to do with pitchforks or horns).

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In fact, the Satanic Temple (TST) itself has little to do with pitchforks or horns, either. It's actually an atheist and humanist organization devoted to promoting free-thinking and egalitarianism, and devote its efforts to fighting for social justice and the separation of church and state. As cofounder Doug Mesner (who goes by the professional name Lucien Greaves) explained it to the Washington Post, "Satan" is a "metaphorical construct" representing the "rejection of all forms of tyranny over the human mind" -- not an actual supernatural entity. 

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Going back to the separation of church and state, it's TST's belief in this principle that inspired the After School Satan Club, which is a response to an evangelical Christian after-school group called The Good News Club, sponsored by the Children's Evangelical Fellowship (CEF). Through the Good News Club, "unsaved children hear of their need for a savior and saved children are presented a spiritual growth challenge," according to the CEF. Considering this overtly religious mission, it's no wonder that TST felt the need to offer an "alternative" of sorts. As they explain on the After School Satan website: 

All After School Satan Clubs are based upon a uniform syllabus that emphasizes a scientific, rationalist, non-superstitious world view. While the twisted Evangelical teachings of The Good News Clubs 'robs children of the innocence and enjoyment of childhood, replacing them with a negative self image, preoccupation with sin, fear of Hell, and aversion to critical thinking,' After School Satan Clubs incorporate games, projects, and thinking exercises that help children understand how we know what we know about our world and our universe.

There will apparently be arts and crafts and snack time (please, please tell me they'll be serving deviled eggs), and kids will need signed permission slips from their parents to attend. All in all, I think any parent would agree that the whole thing sounds pretty harmless (and truthfully a lot less scary than anything involving "unsaved children" being told they need a "savior"). 

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"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," Greaves was quoted as saying in the Washington Post. "We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of an everlasting other-worldly horror."

Ironic, no? Here we have a so-called Satanic group trying to teach kids about appreciating nature, and a so-called Christian group trying to teach kids about the fires of Hell. And because it's illegal for schools to discriminate against religious preferences, After School Satan groups have as much right to occupy empty after-hours classrooms as any Christian group (or Math Club, or Girl Scouts meeting, or anything else).

That said, I won't be surprised in the slightest if certain parents and schools try everything in their power to shut down fledgling After School Satan Clubs -- because the rejection of free thought is unfortunately rampant in our country right now, and because ignorance continues to trump (pun intended) education and rationality in far too many circumstances.

Perhaps that's exactly why we need After School Satan Clubs? Not to play devil's advocate, but who knows, maybe it's something to think about!

 

 

Image via Joshua Smith/Flickr

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