HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Would you send your child to a professionally-developed afterschool program emphasizing science, rational thinking and non-superstitious world views? That's the program description from the website of After School Satan.
Why are they creating After School Satan?
The Satanic Temple says their club will be a direct response to the Good News Club, a program with an open mission of converting students to Christianity.
A spokesperson for the Austin Chapter of The Satanic Temple told FOX 26 News that the curriculum for After School Satan will not focus on converting students, is being developed by professional educators, and is entirely secular. He blamed "'90s satanic panic" and other religions for developing a negative view of Satanic practice.
Regarding the program's mission, The Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves explains:
It’s important that children be given an opportunity to realize that the evangelical materials now creeping into their schools are representative of but one religious opinion amongst many. While the Good News Clubs focus on indoctrination, instilling them with a fear of Hell and God’s wrath, After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us. We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors.
Spokespersons told FOX 26 that the programming will include science, logic, reason, socialization and compassion for all living things.
Can a Satanic club be allowed in schools?
Yes. A 2001 Supreme Court Case involving the Good News Club determined a public school which allows use of facilities to secular groups may not discriminate against religious groups. After School Satan cites this case as grounds for why schools will not be able to deny its club.
What is Satanism?
FOX 26 spoke with Lukasz Grochocki, who has studied cult religions for 25 years.
"Satan represents adversary, that's what it literally means," said Grochocki, who feels the club is an example of the religion's anti-establishment ways.
Grochocki also explained Satanistic religion as, "a very existential philosophy. It's all about the here and now, not so much worrying about the afterlife and repercussions of actions by some almighty."
There are several sectors of Satanic and Luciferian religion, each with their own adaptations of the religion.
Where will the clubs be?
In an official statement on afterschoolsatan.com, spokesperson Lucien Greaves explains:
School districts across the nation have received letters from The Satanic Temple explaining that we will be offering our clubs in their schools this coming school year, and parents in those schools can expect to be presented with a permission slip from their children in the first weeks of the Fall semester. All of the districts we’ve approached are nearby to local chapters of The Satanic Temple, and each school district has hosted, or is now hosting, Good News Clubs in their schools.
You can find the nearest Satanic Temple chapter to you by visiting the website.
What does the Good News Club have to say?
The vice president of USA Ministries for the Child Evangelism Fellowship, which runs the Good News Clubs, told FOX 26 they feel the Temple of Satan is just trying to scare parents to get rid of all religious clubs. In a statement he explains:
The ‘After School Satan’ club is simply another attention-seeking atheist club. The choice of mascot reveals that its leaders simply hate God, and are trying to provoke or spook parents and schools. Let them meet or send flyers, as long as they don’t do anything illegal. Like those before it, this club will fizzle out, because parents don’t view their children as pawns for a 'blend of political activism, religious critique and performance art' by angry atheists.
But he did acknowledge that both clubs have equal right to exist, saying:
Children attend Good News Clubs only with signed parental permission, and schools don’t have to make this false choice of either/or. Let them send their permission slips home and we will see how many kids will come. We are not worried about it.