Satanic worshippers try to open after-school clubs in nine US districts
Published 05/08/2016 | 12:22
Most after-school clubs include sports, arts and crafts or perhaps music - not devil-worshipping.
However, the Satanic Temple is trying to change this in nine US districts.
The religious organisation contacted nine public school districts across the US this week asking to start Satanic after-school programs.
This is because temple co-founder Lucien Greaves objects to the fact that in all but one of the districts the Temple contacted, religious clubs are operated by the Child Evangelism Fellowship Good News Clubs.
In these clubs, children are allegedly instructed to read the Bible and pray.
Mr Greaves told the Guardian he hopes the program would show “that people can be of different religious opinions and still be moral, upright people”.
“We think that when kids are being exposed to the idea that they will burn in hell and other supernatural ideas, that there is a positive upshot to being exposed to the presence of a satanic afterschool program,” he said.
Some of the districts are reportedly reviewing the request - and have noted their resources are open to community groups.
However, Mat Staver, who founded a Christian legal aid group which has in the past represented the Child Evangelism Fellowship has said The Satanic Temple is illegitimate and an “atheist group masquerading” as religious.
Mr Greaves disagrees with this, saying Satanism is an atheist philosophy and its followers "feel it provides everything a religion provides to be legitimized as such”.
The group claims it does not believe in any religion and uses Lucifer more as a mythical symbol.
The Granite school district in Utah has said that if the group meets all the requirements, there is nothing they can do to stop it, and will have to abide by the same rules as the Good News Club - for instance, not putting up fliers or talking to students during school hours.
School districts in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Springfield, Missouri have said allowing the after-school club does not mean they endorse it - and Maryland pointed out after-school clubs require parental permission.
The other districts are in Georgia, California, Florida, Oregon, Washington state and Arizona.
The Satanic Temple has claimed dozens of people from around the country have volunteered to help with the after-school clubs.