The Satanic Temple Makes a Spectacle of Itself While Espousing Christian Values
In 2013, Florida governor Rick Scott signed a bill permitting student-led prayer in school. In response, Lucien Greaves and Malcolm Jarry (both pseudonyms) planned a rally at the statehouse to thank him. Now Satanist students would be free to invoke Satan, right alongside the little Christians praying to Jesus. They called the press, advertised for actors (unpaid), and a handful showed up in black getups holding posters reading, "I 'Heart' Satan" and "Hail Satan."
It was pure grandstanding, but out of the media stunt, the Satanic Temple (TST) was born. Greaves says TST is an embodiment of his deeply held beliefs and a counterbalance to the dominant religious privilege in America today. Since 2013, TST has set up a headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts, applied for and received tax-exempt status as a church, and spawned chapters across America and in Europe and Canada.
TST Satanists do not profess belief in a literal being named Satan, but rather identify with Satan as a symbolic embodiment of rebellion against tyranny. Their campaigns fall into three categories. They target (1) expressions of Judeo-Christian religion on public property, (2) laws restricting abortion on demand, and (3) a few medical and psychiatric practices TST considers pseudo-scientific.
Reason for Surveillance:
Most of their activism involves political protest under the guise of a conflict between religions. The messaging is something like, "You can't put your Christian monument here unless we can put our Baphomet statue next to it" (they had one made for this purpose). Regarding abortion, they act out bizarre street theater, such as adults gallivanting in nothing but diapers, or men dressed as priests pouring milk over women kneeling, with their wrists bound, on the pavement. One reporter called them "First Amendment Performance Artists," and the name fits.
Their stated principles, in contrast to their antics, are not all that out of line with mainstream America. TST's seven fundamental tenets include references to compassion, empathy, justice, wisdom, science, reason, respect for the freedoms of others, and accepting responsibility for one's own mistakes. Off the street, though, some chapters engage in grotesque black-magic-like rituals and borderline live pornography. Overall, as you can see, TST is a morass of chaos and confusion.
Most Offensive Affront:
TST is most troublesome where it touches on children. In 2013, a protest at the Texas statehouse involved children chanting "F**k you!" and "Hail Satan!" while waving signs with slogans like, "Stay out of my mommy's vagina." Its 8.5-foot-tall Baphomet statue includes two children looking up, worshipfully, to the goat demon. And in 2016, it launched "After School Satan" clubs for children ages 5–12 as a counterpart to after-school Bible clubs. Passable tenets notwithstanding, these are not people to whom children should be entrusted.
Here's how I think mature Christians should respond if TST Satanists show up at your school or statehouse. TST's seventh tenet reflects on the first six: "Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word." Setting aside the incoherency of written words that override themselves, TST's tenets, which are grounded in Christian concepts, are the stake in the ground and attitude from which to engage with them. Not fear (which emboldens them), nor outrage (which feeds their theatrics), but reason, wisdom, nobility . . . in a word, truth. Not as grandstanding, but as ground-holding.
They don't own those concepts; Jesus does. And we are his representatives on earth, charged with holding his ground until he returns. Never surrender it.Terrell Clemmons
has a BS in Computer Science and worked as a software engineer with IBM until she hopped off the career track to be a full-time mom. She lives in Indianapolis, IN, and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #52, Spring 2020 Copyright © 2020 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo52/drama-fiends