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The Satanic Temple of NYC is Fighting For Your Liberty and Your Uterus

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That’s right. Satan has come to Gotham, and I’m not talking about a comic book premise.

Contrary to common misconceptions, The Satanic Temple doesn’t actually worship the devil, (or any deity for that matter), or even believe in Satan. So why put such a theologically controversial figure in the title of the organization? What DOES The Satanic Temple do? And why has their membership skyrocketed after the election? Well, I didn’t have to brave fire and brimstone to get my answers. Just Brooklyn.

I sat down with two delightful and articulate young men who represent the NYC Chapter of TST, and one of them wasn’t even wearing black.

Why do you think TST is attracting such a large and diverse group of people right now?
TST: It’s the same reason that you have the religions now that are popping up like The Jedi Church, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Dudeism. There are all these people looking for communities that match their aesthetics and interests for cultural cohesion and shared values that aren’t necessarily about the worship of a deity.
That being said, we are a serious religion, an atheistic one, but a religion nonetheless.

What are some of the secular and political actions that The Satanic Temple is undertaking?
TST: The Satanic Temple is a staunch supporter of civil rights, LGBTQ rights, religious freedoms, cultural rights, woman’s reproductive rights, and individual liberty.

 One of our biggest initiatives right now is the reproductive rights campaign in Missouri, which is challenging entirely arbitrary waiting periods for woman who want to have a legal abortion and are told that they have to wait a certain amount of time, and have to read certain anti-abortion literature. There’s absolutely no medical or scientific need for that. It’s strictly so that woman have a harder time getting into clinics with the hope that they’ll have second thoughts after reading all the propaganda.

How is The Satanic Temple fighting this?
TST: Lawsuits. Suing the state of Missouri for example. And you can find more information on the status of all the ongoing lawsuits and what we’re doing in that arena here: https://religiousreproductiverights.com/

You may have heard about the 2014 efforts of The Satanic Temple to have a Baphomet statue displayed alongside the Ten Commandments Monument at the Oklahoma State Capital. Eventually, the Ten Commandments Monument was removed so The Satanic Temple backed off. Although in 2015, the Detroit chapter of TST did unveil the monument amidst much religious protest and heavy news coverage.

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TST: The Baphomet sculpture is about this…  if you’re going to allow the Ten Commandments to be on public ground, you need to open it up to everyone with a different belief system. The hope is that they’ll just take down the Ten Commandments Monuments. 

Some people think there is more than one sculpture. There is only one completed Baphomet monument, and it’s in Salem, MA. But, it might end up at the Arkansas State Capital.

A lot of people see this as just elaborate trolling. Unfortunately, the term “trolling “ is only pretty much a negative thing these days. But there was a day and time when there was a positive aspect to it, and this would be an example of that. Yeah, we have serious goals here, but we’re taking an unusual route to accomplish those goals. Theres defiantly some humor taken to extreme levels by building a giant sculpture of Baphomet and then saying we want to put this on the State Capital in Oklahoma and Arkansas, or you can take down your Ten Commandments monument, or you can let everybody have one. Muslims, Hindus, Pagans, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc. Any recognized religion should have the right to a monument of some kind on state grounds. If one can, everybody can.

Personally, I would love to see an ornate Flying Spaghetti Monster sculpture complete with a liquid fountain of never-ending marinara sauce.

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Satan is also getting into some after school action with The Satanic Temple’s “After School Satan” program. I imagined a lot of learning how to headbang to Slayer correctly, and how to draw a perfect pentagram. It turns out, my heavy metal fantasies are completely inaccurate.

TST: The goal of “After School Satan” is to present a balance against “The Good News Club” which is done by the Child Evangelism Fellowship. Which just takes kids and making them terrified of hell at an early age. They don’t just hold a Christian after school club, they evangelize very heavy-handedly under the guise of helping parents who need their kids to have some after school programs. It’s supposed to be good for the kids, and they get better grades, and it looks all happy. But if you look at their actual training materials, it’s pretty ugly stuff. They start out by telling the children between the ages of 4 and 12 that if they sin, they will be separated from God for life. Often in low-income areas where an after school program really does help parents, “The Good News Club” is the only option. They’re also pretty extreme as they don’t consider other Christians who aren’t evangelical to be true Christians.

It’s not that The Satanic Temple is necessarily against people with religious beliefs doing things after school. CEF is evangelizing and are particularly pernicious. 

At the end of the day, After School Satan is about a Supreme Court decision. We don’t want to be in schools, we want CEF and the like out. But as long as they’re there, we’ll be there. Hopefully schools eventually just do away with it all.

So what does the “After School Satan” curriculum look like?
TST: We present some basic exercises about science, reason, and critical thinking. Some games, and a healthy snack. There’s absolutely nothing religious at all about what we’re doing other than the fact that the name Satan is in the title of the program. But that’s only because this is who is running the program, it’s not the content. Many of the people signing up to be teachers aren’t even members of The Satanic Temple. They’re just secularists who like what we’re doing and want to teach them. So it’s not only our members running the programs. It’s also local school teachers who are atheists, or humanists, or secularists in some way.

After School Satan

Membership in The Satanic Temple skyrocketed after the election. Any thoughts on that?

TST: I think a large majority of Americans are seeing a potential theocratic and fascist regime on it’s way, and they’re probably people that have been following what we have been doing on some level and decided maybe I should get more involved now that we’re going to have a theocrat as VP and the President-to-be is a potential fascist nightmare.

Who are The Satanic Temple’s biggest critics?
Various Evangelical groups, and actually a lot of atheists. Like the Capital A hardcore atheists. They say things like “well if you don’t believe in a sky daddy then why would you believe in a ground troll.” They don’t even want to have a genuine discussion about archetypes and mythology. They pretty much just think it’s all stupid and silly.

So, why Satan? Doesn’t he have a generally bad reputation worldwide?
TST: This, of course, is one of our favorite questions. We often point out to people that Satan is a metaphorical symbol that we’ve derived from the literary tradition as opposed to the occult or theological traditions. We like to point primarily to the English Romantics starting with John Milton, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron.
Anatole France’s “Revolt of The Angels” is central too. Satan is a metaphorical archetype that represents standing up to arbitrary authority, tyrannical authority, and in our case often standing up to theological politics or politicians with theocratic world views. There’s also a leftist and early atheist politics that would invoke Satan as a rebellion against the church that was running certain countries at that time So there’s a pretty strong left wing take and tradition on using Satan as an archetype politically. Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin and his book “God and the State” is probably the most obvious work to point to, but that’s not everyone in the organization, that’s more of a subset of us that are interested in that.

And also look at Satan as a role and not a character in the Hebrew Bible, “ha satan” literally translates to “the adversary.” This whole adversary thing in modern Satanism comes from The Book of Job when Satan calls Job out and then God actually does all the bad stuff to Job. But Satan wasn’t a person or a deity then, “he” was a role.

A majority of people equate the word Satanism with the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980’s and all the urban legends of cults sacrificing children.

TST: The Satanic Temple has an entire separate sub-organization called The Grey Faction that focuses especially on those issues https://greyfaction.org/

Specifically how certain psychologists have used discredited theories about recovering false memories that helped to create that moral panic in the 1980’s. The bigger discussion here is about moral panics in general. Which is why of The headquarters of The Satanic Temple is in Salem, Mass which was the epicenter of the most famous moral panic in our countries history, that being, of course, the Salem Witch Trials.

satanic panic

How do you join The Satanic Temple? Are there tithes?

TST: No. There’re two types of membership. Anybody can go to the national site at https://thesatanictemple.com/ with a simple email address you scan sign up for the newsletter and become a member. And then there’re Chapter members, and that requires some responsibilities to be involved on some level. Every Chapter does that a little differently. No has to pay anything unless you want a card and a certificate. That costs $25, but by no means do you have to do that. If there’s a local chapter where you are, to join you do have to be accepted, but there’s no initiation or anything. You don’t even have to be a Satanist, you can just be a strong ally who believes in the political and secular actions without being super stoked about all the aesthetic aspects.

So you don’t even have to be a goth?
TST: (Laughs) No, we have actually had many very normal looking people. I actually feel underdressed because I’m not even wearing black right now.

The two TST members interviewed were Draco Ignis and Hofman A Turing.

Full list of all of The Satanic Temple’s social and political campaigns: https://thesatanictemple.com/campaigns/

The Satanic Temple NYC Chapter: https://thesatanictemplenyc.com/

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Lauryn Petrie - NYC Editor

Lauryn Petrie - NYC Editor

Lauryn Petrie is a reformed drug addict, ex-stripper, college drop out, and stand-up comedian. She currently resides in the NYC area taking odd jobs, writing, and telling jokes to drunks. You can follow her on Twitter @TheLaurynPetrie and follow her live shows here: http://laurynpetrie.com

  • The Broker

    The idea of having no idea what you’re talking about, yet leaving a comment anyways should be abhorrent to Satanists, but David Harris does it anyway. While every article written about the After School Satan program makes clear that the curriculum contains no items of religious and exists to counter indoctrination, do-nothing slobs from the CoS continue to misrepresent it. While respected secular groups support The Satanic Temple’s efforts (and Americans United for the Separation of Church & State support the after school program directly), the dwindling sour-grapes Church of Satan decries those efforts in a facile attempt to protect their fragile identity. While the Church of Satan is nothing more than an online forum for powerless, angsty aged do-nothing “rebels” (whose sole participation in Satanism is keeping the Satanic Bible on their coffee tables), The Satanic Temple has a public headquarters, international chapter presence, and is litigating in the court’s of law to build a place for themselves. The CoS is apolitical insofar as they don’t engage in anything of substance, make no motions at all when the theocrats are on the march, sit silently while witch-hunters spread Satanic Panic, but when another Satanist group actually bothers to do something meaningful — only then does the CoS make its whiny, pathetic voice known. The Satanic Temple is, and has been, an LLC for 4 years now. Many film pieces have been made about them (while the CoS has wallowed, undignified, in its antiquated obscurity). Stop embarrassing yourself. Your constant crying brings shame upon you.

  • The Broker

    Tell us: is there no instance in which a political movement might threaten your right to individuality, your individual choice? And when that happens, is not your adherence to individuality (laughable as that might be in reference to the conformist, self-parroting clones in the CoS) itself an oppositional political stance? Or are you dogmatically apolitical, to the point that you meekly allow the theocrats to walk over you? Do you imagine you’re actually stronger for being so weak and ineffectual? Have you convinced yourselves that your inactivity is the product of some elitist transcendence over mundane worldly issues? Have you elevated doing nothing to a noble pursuit? Have you persuaded yourselves to believe that LaVey’s accomplishments (such as they were) are your inheritance, and that you are legitimized by his work… even though you’ve done nothing at all?

  • cetude

    That’s your definition..there are different Satanists including ones who actually believe in a real devil. Actually the Temple of Satan has the same beliefs as the COS being that they both do not believe in a real Satan and just worship themselves; technically speaking this is not a religion, but an atheist club. The Temple of Satan is taking customers away from the COS. That’s all part of materialism which is something both worship. After school Satanism is appropriate since Christians do the same thing.

  • totally normal person

    1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.

  • Alder Strauss

    Doesn’t quite work like that with an open forum where discussions are openly invited by the nature of the platform.
    Here’s an example where LaVey is in a very similar platform as this in the 1969 documentary ‘Satanis’. Here you’ll see that people are giving their opinions freely without LaVey asking him (approx 16:30 into it):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGpTzKlFwj4

  • Ash Astaroth

    What the CoS trolls actually find disgusting is that people are uninterested in their late 70s “philosophy” in 2016 and that everyone snickers at the idea of a bunch of alt-right sympathizers who cloister themselves away in echo-chambers away from current sociological and evolutionary data claiming they are the “elite” because they can parrot what little lord Gilmore rants about and point to their beloved dear leader LaVeys second worse book (the Satanic Bible, The Satanic Witch is even more comedic and terrible) as a profound and masterful work of insight. CoS are an embarrassing joke that they seem to enthusiastically decide to make funnier every time they comment on a TST article.

  • Alder Strauss

    “While respected secular groups support The Satanic Temple’s efforts (and Americans United for the Separation of Church & State support the after school program directly), the dwindling sour-grapes Church of Satan decries those efforts in a facile attempt to protect their fragile identity.”
    Just because secularist groups support TST’s efforts, doesn’t mean they understand what Satanism is nor do they care. Here you are creating a lazy argument.
    The protesting of the CoS is in regards to a responsible representation of Satanism, not whether or not the religious right are being challenged.
    Also,there’s no reason to take petty shots at the CoS or anyone for that matter. It’s not relevant in proving your point.

    “While the Church of Satan is nothing more than an online forum for powerless, angsty aged do-nothing “rebels” (whose sole participation in Satanism is keeping the Satanic Bible on their coffee tables), The Satanic Temple has a public headquarters, international chapter presence, and is litigating in the court’s of law to build a place for themselves.”
    The CoS is comprised of members who go out there and pursue their passions while exercising the philosophy of Satanism to move them forward in their goals.
    The CoS’s international presence is their members who live life overseas. Here you are doing something that just about every CoS detractor does; misunderstanding the very nature of what the CoS is and how it functions.
    And regarding litigation to build a place for itself:
    http://news.churchofsatan.com/post/125349665032/hells-bells-satanic-weddings

    “The CoS is apolitical insofar as they don’t engage in anything of substance, make no motions at all when the theocrats are on the march, sit silently while witch-hunters spread Satanic Panic, but when another Satanist group actually bothers to do something meaningful — only then does the CoS make its whiny, pathetic voice known.”

    Again with the insults. You really need to stop if you want to be taken sincerely.
    Regarding the CoS and its representatives (past and present) addressingThe Satanic Panic:
    1.) http://www.churchofsatan.com/cos-satanic-panic.php
    2.) http://www.churchofsatan.com/history-peter-h-gilmore.php
    3.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cBd3JhX1_s (approx 2:40 in)
    4.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E4CqI6b_Pc (approx 27:45 in)
    5.) From http://culturedvultures.com/interview-peter-h-gilmore-high-priest-church-satan/:
    “We’ve spent 50 years educating people about Satanism, from the open-minded 1960s and the madness of the evangelist-driven “Satanic Panic” in the 80s and 90s, to more recent isolated cases where Satanism is blamed for criminal activity or seen as some metal-inspired adolescent rebellion. The Church of Satan has accurately communicated the truth about Satanism to a global forum—I have been interviewed for print/video/web by journalists from many nations—and we maintain cordial contact with law enforcement agencies both here in the U.S. and abroad, consulting or alerting them to possible dangerous situations that might be developing.”

    And, last (but not least):
    6.) http://www.churchofsatan.com/faq-fundamental-beliefs.php

    “Stop embarrassing yourself.” and “…if you had actually bothered to do any research yourself”.
    Well, given with all that I’ve given you, this is kind of backfired on you, didn’t it?

  • Alder Strauss

    Time and time again, Ash, you continue to throw insults, yet you don’t provide any sound evidence to back up your claims.
    Surely you can agree with LaVey said in his “Study, not worship” statement, right?

    And what do you mean alt-right sympathizers?
    Are you referring to that ROOSTER article that’s been debunked since then?
    I’m a CoS member and I didn’t support Trump and I tend to lead left.
    So, you’re proven wrong in that instance.
    I also don’t crib the words of Gilmore of LaVey without substance and application to external forces or situations.
    So, there’s another correction to your statement.

    Please responsibly and fairly do your research before making such claims. Thank you.

  • Wheeljack

    For all the complaints about the Alt Right and alleged racism in the CoS, it’s telling that they have a rather active disabled Warlock among the ranks. For all the claims of the Cos “parroting” Gilmore, how many TST members actually research what Mesner claims about the CoS?

  • NoMasters

    The CoS is just mad they’re not invited to daytime talk shows anymore. That, and they’re completely irrelevant. But hey, someone needs to support the mall knife industry!

  • The Broker

    Your “arguments” are completely lacking in substance. You say, “Just because secularist groups support TST’s efforts, doesn’t mean they understand what Satanism is nor do they care.” Interestingly, the point here is that just because the Church of Satan claims to champion secularism doesn’t mean they understand what secularism is, nor do they care. Again, this comes down to the CoS’s infantile delusional claim that they hold exclusive rights on “Satanism”, demonstrating that they don’t know how religion works, nor do they care.
    “There’s no need to take petty shots at the CoS”. You’re right. In fact there’s no point in mentioning the CoS at all. They are irrelevant. It was your inarticulate “Magister” who had to insert CoS into these comments with petty shots at TST.
    And then you post links of people from CoS “addressing” the Satanic Panic. It’s no surprise you don’t even know what taking action even means. Pontificating to one’s mindless followers is hardly confronting the crimes of the Satanic Panic. See the work of The Satanic Temple’s Grey Faction, who are actually going after licensed mental health professionals who continue to spread Satanic Panic for an example of how things are done in the real world.
    Next time you try setting somebody straight with your remarkable research skills, make sure you at least know what you’re trying to argue.

  • Wheeljack

    Nice to see Doug Mesner protecting his investment by spewing ad hominems and other logical fallacies
    That was sarcasm, by the way
    Also. TST was started as a joke, but was turned into an income source