A Pennsylvania school district has voted against a parent's request to launch a satanic group's After School Satan Club at an elementary school for students who want to participate in an extracurricular program that is non-religious.
In an 8-1 vote Tuesday, the Northern York County School Board based in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, rejected the request to establish an “After School Satan Club” at the district’s Northern Elementary School.
The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting indicates that Samantha Groome sought to establish the club on a “probationary basis.” A video clip of the school board meeting, obtained by the York Daily Record, shows parents and others gathered in the crowd standing up and erupting into applause after the effort to create the satanic club was defeated.
Groome said she wanted her children to be able to participate in extracurricular activities, but sought a secular alternative to the Joy El Christian club, which operates at nine of the 16 school districts in the county and offers off-campus activities.
While an After School Satan Club will not come to fruition in Northern York County, Pennsylvania, other school districts in the country have embraced the extracurricular programs sponsored by the Satanic Temple. Earlier this year, Jane Addams Elementary School in Moline, Illinois, received criticism for handing out flyers promoting the After School Satan Club.
The Moline-Coal Valley School District defended its decision to allow the club to operate at one of its elementary schools. Noting that it “does not discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religious-affiliated groups,” the district explained that “religiously affiliated groups are among those allowed to rent our facilities for a fee.”
The district pointed to the Good News Club, which it described as “an after-school child evangelism fellowship group,” as an example of a religious organization that it allows to use its facilities even though it doesn't endorse its message.
According to the Satanic Temple’s website, “the After School Satan Clubs meet at select public schools where Good News Clubs also operate.” Other school districts that host After School Satan Clubs include Lebanon City School District in Lebanon, Ohio, which also faced intense pushback for allowing the Satanic Temple to host an after-school activity for elementary school children.
June Everett, who serves as a minister of Satan at the Satanic Temple and is the campaign director of the After School Satan Club, announced that the club would begin meeting at William Bruce Elementary School in Eaton, Ohio, in February. Everett stressed that “ASSC is ONLY in schools that have a Good News Club or other religious club operating after hours.”
Everett listed the presence of the extracurricular program LifeWise Academy, a “released time religious instruction program focused on Bible-based character education,” at the school as justification for seeking to launch an After School Satan Club there. She also posted a flyer advertising the After School Satan Club at William Bruce Elementary School.
The flyer touted some of the activities participants would engage in, including “science projects,” “puzzles games,” and “arts and crafts projects,” and listed “benevolence and empathy,” “critical thinking,” “problem solving,” “creative expression” and “personal sovereignty” as concepts children will learn there. It also asserted that the United States Constitution protects the After School Satan Club’s right to distribute flyers on public school grounds.
“The United States Constitution requires schools to respect the right of all external organizations to distribute flyers to students at school if the school permits any such organization to distribute flyers. Accordingly, the school cannot discriminate among groups wishing to distribute flyers at school and does not endorse the content of any flyer distributed at school.”
The After School Satan Club contends that the U.S. Supreme Court precedent gives it the right to hold meetings on public school grounds after hours: “The Supreme Court ruled in 2001 in the case of 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.”
The After School Satan Club Handbook insists that the group is “not offering any materials or lectures to your child about satanism.” The handbook cites “free inquiry and rationalism” as the focus of the club, adding: “While the classes are designed to promote intellectual and emotional development in accordance with TST’s tenets, no proselytization or religious instruction takes place.”
A video on the After School Satan Club’s website features a song titled “My Pal Satan,” which includes lyrics declaring, “Satan’s not an evil guy, he wants you to learn and question why, he wants you to have fun and be yourself and by the way, there is no Hell.” Additionally, the song maintains that “Satan’s not a scary guy, he wants you to share and to be kind.”
“When all is said and done, Satan doesn’t actually exist,” the song continues. “He’s an imaginary friend who can teach us how to live.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org