The Satanic Temple - Connecticut and Rhode Island Chapter has announced it will be holding the first-ever After School Satan Club (ASSC) in Connecticut at Lebanon Elementary School starting on December 1st for children aged 5-12.
The club teaches children about the Satanic Temple's Seven Fundamental Tenets through science projects, community service, puzzles, games, nature activities, arts and crafts. The tenets include things like "the struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions" and "one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone."
Note that the Satanic Temple should not be confused with an earlier organization, the Church of Satan that was founded by Anton LaVey. The Church of Satan apparently vehemently opposes the campaigns and activities of The Satanic Temple, and believes the Church of Satan is the only “true” arbiter of Satanism. Meanwhile, The Satanic Temple dismisses the Church of Satan as being "irrelevant and inactive" and devotes a fair amount of space on its website to argue why The Satanic Temple is better.
The Satanic Temple, which views Satan as a literary figure, has an actual physical headquarters located in Salem, Massachusetts, and it holds two virtual Temple services each week. It maintains active congregations throughout the world, including in Connecticut and Rhode Island where the group's Facebook page has attracted nearly one thousand followers.
Of course, parents might be wondering what their budding little satanists will be learning in this new after school club.
ASSC says it exists to provide a "safe and inclusive alternative to the religious clubs that use threats of eternal damnation to convert school children to their belief system" by focusing on science, critical thinking, creative arts, and good works for the community.
The goal of ASSC is to provide an "intellectually stimulating, and non-proselytizing alternative to current religious after school clubs." However, satanism will not be taught to the children who join the club, so if that's what you're looking for, perhaps this is not the right club. Instead, the ASSC says it aims to promote "free inquiry and rationalism, bolstering scientific understandings of the natural world, and nurturing your child’s already awesome ability to be curious about the wonders around them." Whatever that means.
In case you're wondering if it's even legal to operate a Satan Club inside an elementary school... the Supreme Court ruled in 2001 in Good News Club v. Milford Central School that schools operate a “limited public forum” and that, as such, they may not discriminate against religious speech should a religious organization choose to operate an After School Club on their premises.
That's probably why the Satanic Temple targets schools that have other religious clubs operating, like Good News Clubs.
Lebanon Public Schools (LPS) Superintendent Andrew Gonzalez confirmed that outside organizations are permitted to use LPS facilities, in accordance with Board Policy 1007.
That means LPS must allow community organizations to access school facilities, without regard to the religious, political, or philosophical ideas they express, as long as such organizations comply with the viewpoint-neutral criteria set forth in the policy.
"Not everyone will agree with, or attend meetings of, every group that is approved to use school facilities. However, prohibiting particular organizations from accessing our school buildings based on the perspectives they offer or express could violate our obligations under the First Amendment and other applicable law and would not align with our commitment to non-discrimination, equal protection, and respect for diverse viewpoints," said Gonzalez.
In addition to ASSC, the Satanic Temple is running a number of other campaigns, including Religious Reproductive Rights, which features cartoon jingles like "Samual Alito's Mom's Satanic Abortion Clinic"; Grey Faction to protect mental health; the Protect Children Project which aims to protect students from corporal punishment, seclusion, restraint, or denial of their right to use the bathroom of their choice in school; and a group to compete with Alcoholics Anonymous called Sober Faction.
The Satanic Temple also offers a scholarship program whereby it awards three scholarships in the amount of $666 each to students who exemplify the Temple's ideas in three different age categories: age 11 and under, ages 12-18, and high school or GED graduates and continuing education learners. The 2022 essay question was the same for all applicants:
How has Satanism inspired you to make the world a better place?
There's a lot more the Satanic Temple offers members, from satanic ministry training to special interest groups. It's also the only Satanic religious organization recognized as a church by the both the IRS and the Federal Court System.
So far, it appears five students have signed up for the program at Lebanon.