The leader of The Satanic Temple says the First Amendment protects his organization’s right to host a back-to-school event at a Pennsylvania high school.
The After School Satan Club at Northern High School in Dillsburg will be allowed to meet after approval by officials with the Northern York County School District.
Steve Kirkpatrick, superintendent of schools for Northern York County School District, said in a statement released last week that the school board approved an application from TST to use school facilities for an event on Sept. 24.
The organization will be required to pay all security, custodial and other fees as stated in board policy, Kirkpatrick said.
“As a public school district, the use of our school facilities must be permitted without discrimination,” he said. “We cannot and do not arbitrarily pick and choose which organizations may or may not use our facilities.”
The district “does not endorse the activity of any outside organization that rents our facilities, nor are those entities permitted to use the school district’s name or logo,” added Kirkpatrick.
Lucien Graves, the co-founder of TST, told Fox News that allowing a prayer event at the school while rejecting a satanic event could pose “a serious problem.”
"We don’t decry or begrudge anybody having a prayer event or anything like that," Greaves was quoted as saying. "It does become a problem, a serious problem, when you allow a back-to-school prayer event, but you don’t allow any other religious representation.
"We’re talking about upholding fundamental pillars of democracy and the First Amendment," added Greaves.
Some theologians, such as professor Darrell Bock of the Dallas Theological Seminary, believe that addressing religious freedom protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution could actually end up educating more people about biblical truth — and offer more opportunities for outreach.
For Bock, the example of the people of Ephesus honoring the name of Jesus in response to the demonic interactions with the "Seven sons of Sceva" in Acts 19:11-20 comes to mind.
“Yes, promoting satanic elements does not make sense and can be problematic. However, we know Satan is alive and well (though many people doubt that and even doubt he exists, just as some doubt God exists), and to the extent this is about a spiritual reality, the more we can engender conversation about that reality and how to think well about it, the better,” Bock said in an emailed response to The Christian Post.
According to its website, TST claims abortion is a “central part of a religious ritual that encourages self-empowerment and affirms bodily autonomy.”
The TST website also claims that waiting periods and mandatory counseling for abortions is “akin to demanding a waiting period and counseling before one can be baptized or receive communion.”
“Clearly, that would be a violation of religious liberty,” the statement reads.
But some Pennsylvanians say they’re concerned about any group espousing satanic doctrines being allowed near students, including William Wilson, who told CP via email that he has grandchildren in schools that are hosting satanic after school activities.
“How can they say we believe in Satan but not God? Satan is God's adversary. Without God there is no Satan," Wilson said.
In April, the Northern York County school district voted against a parent's request to launch the After School Satan Club in an 8-1 vote.
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.
Defending its decision to allow the club to operate at one of its campuses, the Moline-Coal Valley School District issued a statement saying it “does not discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religious-affiliated groups.”
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.
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.
According to the Satanic Temple’s website, Satan Clubs "meet at select public schools where Good News Clubs also operate.”
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.” The song also claims 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.”