(Daily Caller) – The Satanic Temple (TST) made headlines in 2022 for fighting for the right to create after-school clubs for students and has recently been launching new groups across the country, raising concerns for religious advocates about the potential impact Satanism may have on students’ perception of faith.
A TST “After-School Satan Club” was approved in December 2022 at a Virginia elementary school, provoking many parents, who were disturbed by the push to indoctrinate children into Satanism, to protest the club, according to RealClearEducation. TST has announced the formation of multiple new clubs in New York, Pennsylvania and Colorado in just the past month and religious advocates have taken note of the trend, telling the Daily Caller News Foundation that the normalization of Satanism could be detrimental to students later in life.
“A satanic club is the antithesis of religion,” Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s public policy organization, told the DCNF. “Groups like this have free speech rights but Satanism is not a religion. The fact that there are more of these clubs popping up means kids are searching for something to believe in.”
“The decision to promote the Satanic Temple in schools is a concerning development in districts across the country,” Delano Squires, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family. “This group has no more ‘right’ to students and schools as a Neo-Nazi club demanding representation. Schools should use wisdom and discernment with regard to decisions related to extracurricular activities.”
TST argued on its Twitter account that an upcoming vote at a Virginia school would determine whether its club should be on “equal footing” with other school groups, particularly religious clubs.
“The Chesapeake School Board will vote on two policy revisions tonight, putting non-profit organizations, including the After School Satan Club and the Good News Club, on equal footing for the use of school facilities,” TST’s Feb. 27 post read.
The Chesapeake School Board will vote on two policy revisions tonight, putting non-profit organizations, including the After School Satan Club and the Good News Club, on equal footing for the use of school facilities. Join the live stream at ~6:30 pm EST. https://t.co/LIZx2jrm6j pic.twitter.com/iH3g08bM9e
— The Satanic Temple (@satanic_temple_) February 27, 2023
A flyer for Chesapeake, Virginia’s club, shared by TST’s National Campaign Director June Everett to Reddit in 2022, said students will be doing puzzles, games, crafts and nature activities in addition to being taught “benevolence and empathy, critical thinking, problem-solving, creative expression, personal sovereignty, and compassion.” While the club’s flyer claimed the program “does not attempt to convert children to any religious ideology,” students are instructed in the seven tenets of TST.
TST describes its religion as a “scientific, rationalist and non-superstitious worldview” and Everett told NBC affiliate WAVY that the purpose of the clubs is to go “to schools where other religious clubs are operating” to provide an alternative.
Family Research Council Assistant Director Arielle Del Turco argued that TST isn’t interested in establishing “equal footing” but in undermining religion as a whole.
“It’s always a concern when people try to use kids to gain attention or legitimize themselves,” Del Turco told the DCNF. “Treating The Satanic Temple as a religion undermines the credibility of religion and its role in American society—but that’s their point. They are so desperate to advance a secular vision of society that they created a fake religion to challenge the role of Christianity in our public institutions.”
Del Turco said that TST’s clubs were simply a ploy to get schools to refuse them, so they could claim discrminination in order “push Christianity and other religions out of the public square. Squires also said that TST likely sees students as “pliable and easily influenced” and would therefore make the “perfect candidates” to be taught a “self-destructive worldview.”
Most recently, TST conflated concerned parents, who protested the Chesapeake club’s acceptance, with criminal activity, in a March 2 post on Twitter.
“Unfortunately, some individuals made violent threats in response to our request to use school facilities and to be treated the same as other groups,” the post said. “Anyone who has sought to block the After School Satan Club from meeting at B.M. Williams — even after the club and school were threatened — should ask themselves why they are siding with criminal actors over children and families gathering in fellowship.”
Monday’s vote by the Chesapeake School Board will put all organizations that use school facilities, including the After School Satan Club and the Good News Club, on equal footing by requiring that meetings be held after 6 p.m. To support ASSC, visit https://t.co/UvjdpUqrSp today! pic.twitter.com/nULcrZn9BD
— The Satanic Temple (@satanic_temple_) March 2, 2023
The Satanic Temple did not respond to multiple requests from the DCNF for comment.
Nance warned religious parents that the only ones who can truly protect their children from “false ideologies” is them.
“Parents need to wake up and understand false ideologies are everywhere and they must train up their children to follow the one true God of love, not one of evil and destruction,” Nance concluded.
Squires had a more hopeful outlook and told the DCNF that he believed the increased presence of Satanism might turn the next generation to God instead of away.
“It could easily exacerbate the current trend of Americans moving away from organized religion, often replacing that void with partisan political activity,” Squires said. “But, as a Christian, there is also a possibility that exposure to the beliefs of TST can push the next generation closer to God. Nothing makes light shine brighter than being surrounded by darkness.”