On Aug. 1 of this year, the Los Angeles Unified School District and other districts across the country will receive a letter petitioning them to adopt a new after-school program. According to the letter, the program, which will be “religious” in nature, is intended to “enrich the lives of children.”
If you’re thinking this all sounds pretty benign, you should know that the letter is signed “The Satanic Temple Los Angeles.” The program they are seeking to implement in schools is titled “After School Satan.”
According to The Washington Post, the temple’s co-founder Doug Mesner, who goes by the name of Lucien Greaves, is quoted as saying:
It’s critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think.
Greaves’s plan is to offer an alternative to the Good News Club, an after-school Christian program that operates in over 3,500 schools nationwide. A 2001 Supreme Court decision gave the club the green light to continue to operate despite objections that it violated the First Amendment.
The Satanic Temple’s motive is nakedly political. Greaves openly admits his organization is not about promoting devil worship. He told the Post:
If Good News Clubs would operate in churches rather than public schools, that need [for an alternative] 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.
The group has even put out a creepy video and developed a lighthearted representation of the devil that it hopes will appeal to kids:
So far, the stunt has not generated the sort of outrage that Greaves and company had hoped for. The Post article quotes Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, a religious rights group as saying:
I would definitely oppose after-school Satanic clubs, but they have a First Amendment right to meet.
I can’t imagine there’s going to be a lot of students participating in this. It’s probably dust they’re kicking up and is likely to fade away in the near future for lack of interest.”