A group called The Satanic Temple has launched a nationwide after school club to counter Christian student organizations in public schools.
Known as the "After School Satan Club," the group's creation comes in response to the Christian Good News Club that meets at public schools throughout the nation.
Douglas Mesner, spokesperson and co-founder of The Satanic Temple who goes by the name Lucien Greaves, told The Christian Post that the Christian clubs being at public schools "created the need for a counter-balance in the extracurricular options."
Graves claimed that "While the Good News Clubs teach children shame, guilt, and fear — that they will die and be tormented in Hell — the After School Satan Clubs will focus on art projects and education with no religious opinion inserted."
"The program is merely created and operated by The Satanic Temple. There is no attempt to indoctrinate the children."
Greaves told CP that nine schools have already set up satanic chapters, and he expects that increased media attention has led more students to express an interest in starting the own clubs.
"We've received a flood of volunteer inquiries from people wanting to establish our program in schools that host the Good News Clubs near them," continued Greaves.
"Many of these prospective volunteers claim certification in teaching, some of them are grandparents, all are very supportive of what we're doing."
The Good News Club is a ministry of the nondenominational group Child Evangelism Fellowship and boasts over 4,500 chapters nationwide.
In 2001, the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in the decision Good News Club v. Milford Central School that the Christian group had the right to meet on public school property after school hours.
"By denying the club access to the school's limited public forum on the ground that the club was religious in nature, Milford discriminated against the club because of its religious viewpoint in violation of the Free Speech Clause," wrote Justice Clarence Thomas for the majority.
He continued, "… it cannot be said that the danger that children would misperceive the endorsement of religion is any greater than the danger that they would perceive a hostility toward the religious viewpoint if the club were excluded from the public forum."
Moises Esteves, vice president of USA Ministries for Child Evangelism Fellowship, told CP that he believed the Satan club was "yet another atheist PR stunt" that "has no staying power."
"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," said Esteves.
"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."
Esteves of CEF added that he believed that ultimately the GNCs will outlast the Satan clubs, because "at the end of the day, parents know what is best for their children."
"When children are already struggling with many issues like violence, drugs, physical bullying and online bullying, gangs, etc., the last thing that parents want for their children is a Satan Club," continued Esteves.
"Good News Clubs have encountered similar clubs before, and parents overwhelmingly choose the GNC. Beyond some flyers or one or two meetings at most, 'After School Satan' clubs will not have any impact."
While he's opposed to the mission of the satanic club, Esteves told CP that if it "doesn't do anything illegal, they have the same legal rights as anyone else" to meet at schools.