After School Satan
|Headquarters||Salem, Massachusetts |
After School Satan is an after school program project of The Satanic Temple, an American political activist religious organization based in Salem, Massachusetts and is sponsored by Reason Alliance LTD, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It was created as an alternative to the Christian-based after school groups, like the Good News Club.
There are After School Satan clubs in cities across the United States, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Pensacola, Washington, D.C., Tucson, Springfield, MO, Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.
The Supreme Court decision Good News Club v. Milford Central School held that when a government operates a "limited public forum" it may not discriminate against speech that takes place within that forum on the basis of the viewpoint it expresses. The "limited public forum" in the case was referring to after school programs, that the schools provided space for, but was not run by the school.
After School Satan was created by The Satanic Temple in July 2016 to ensure that equal representation for all religions is upheld in public schools, and religious freedom and plurality is respected. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that religious groups are permitted to establish clubs to proselytize after hours using public school classrooms, the Christian-based Good News Club has established thousands of such clubs. In response, The Satanic Temple began a campaign to establish its own clubs across the United States. According to one organizer, "Whenever religion enters the public sphere, like the Good News Club at public schools, we take action to ensure that more than one religious voice is represented, and that is our intent with the After School Satan Club."
The clubs follow a standard syllabus, and strive to provide students with the critical thinking skills necessary to be able to make important life decisions for themselves. They emphasize a scientific and rationalist, non-superstitious world view, and oppose "indoctrination" into other-worldly belief systems.
According to The Satanic Temple and After School Satan's co-founder and spokesperson, Lucien Greaves:
It’s critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think... "Satan" is just a "metaphorical construct" intended to represent the rejection of all forms of tyranny over the human mind.
"We are only doing this because Good News Clubs have created a need for this. If Good News Clubs would operate in churches rather than public schools, that need would disappear. But our point is that if you let one religion into the public schools you have to let others, otherwise it’s an establishment of religion."
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." Satanic Temple spokesman Finn Rezz said the club "would focus on science and rational thinking," promoting "benevolence and empathy for everybody" – while providing an alternative voice to the Bible-centred "Good News Club". After School Satan Clubs do not teach children to believe in supernatural beings named Satan or perform Satanic rituals.
A group of Christian pastors and other religious leaders met in Tacoma, Washington to discuss the proposition that the After School Satan program would be allowed at a local school. One pastor remarked, "We want to cut this off and defeat it before it ever gets a chance to take root." Another pastor commented, "We are the taxpayers here and we ought to stand up and let them know they are not welcome, they don't pay taxes here." A petition circulated in protest of the club gained more than 100,000 signatures, and stated, "I strongly protest the After School Satan Club that is being allowed on your premises. This is a grave threat to the spiritual life of children and the future of education. I urge you to revoke The Satanic Temple's permit. Satan has no place in education. Don't let the devil near our children."
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- After-School Satan Club Sparks Outrage From Parents; ChurchMilitant.com; Stefan Farrar; December 5, 2016