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The devil’s bad news club

Atheists feign belief in Satan to gain entry into schools

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What do Satanists really want?

Free publicity, always. A juicy court case, when they can afford it. And many of them, especially members of The Satanic Temple headquartered in New York City, want you not to believe in Satan. They’ll gladly explain that the being known as Lucifer, or the devil, is simply a “metaphysical construct” symbolic of humanity’s ongoing struggle to free itself from superstition.

So why don’t they call their proposed extra-curricular program for 4th- through 6th-graders an Atheist Club or Humanist Club? That would be truth in advertising. Instead, the “After School Satan Club” (ASSC) website features a grindhouse-quality video of tortured soundtracks and pasty-white children-of-the-corn walking backward. The logo is a leering cartoon devil with a mortarboard tucked between his horns.

The Satanic Temple (TST) likes going to outrageous lengths to make a point. In 2014 its adherents began a fundraising campaign to erect a twisty-horned statue of “Baphomet” beside the Ten Commandments monument on the lawn of the Oklahoma State Capitol. On another capitol lawn, in 2013, they participated in noisy protests of the Texas law restricting abortion by holding up “Hail Satan” signs. That same year they attempted to adopt a highway in New York City but failed for lack of funds (everything is pricey in the Big Apple, even public service). This fall, it’s the after-school clubs, a targeted response to the approximately 3,500 Good News Clubs that meet in public schools across the nation.

The Satanic Temple likes going to outrageous lengths to make a point.

If one religious group can meet in a school, argues TST, why not another? If Child Evangelism Fellowship, which sponsors the Good News Clubs, can burden kids with the “news” that they’re all desperate sinners and will go to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, why can’t a dash of Satan gladden those little sinners’ hearts with science and reason?

In reality TST is an atheistic political-action group that embraces all progressive causes from abortion to zero tolerance for guns, all while dressing up in horns and a tail. Their target is the Christian faith, not religion in general: Last November TST grandly offered lodging and aid to Muslims who were afraid of backlash after the Paris massacre. It’s doubtful whether any followers of Muhammad accepted such generosity.

The club proposal comes with a curriculum focused on “critical thinking skills and healthy social interaction,” with planned activities involving literature, science, puzzle-solving, and art. The rollout was carefully staged. On Aug. 1, TST sent letters to nine school districts, identifying itself as a religious organization and proposing nine named elementary schools as club venues. Each of the districts had at least one Good News Club meeting in their facilities, and included not only liberal enclaves like Seattle and Portland but also Springfield, Mo., world headquarters of two major Christian denominations.

At this writing, all nine school districts are said to be considering the proposal. They may not have much choice. As Martha Wright, executive director of the Maryland Child Evangelism Fellowship admits, “When the Supreme Court voted in 2001 that religious groups have equal access, they opened the door to any religious group.” Parents are puzzled: “Why do they have to name it after a not-so-good person if they want to teach good things?” wondered a PTO leader in Utah. There’s the rub, sister; either way is a win for TST. If a school district accepts, it has cleared a pathway to introduce kids to scientism and humanism and prove that “Satan” isn’t such a bad guy after all. If a district turns the clubs down, it’s got a lawsuit.

As C.S. Lewis observed, the devil is as pleased with your skepticism as with your worship—both will direct you eventually into his wide-open maw. TST’s Christian-baiting antics are not for the benefit of children but to stir up squeaky cries of outrage. The best way to thwart it would be to propose a Good News/Bad News After School Debating Society, exposing the desolation wrought by atheism. What Satan doesn’t want is to be lured out into the open.

Email jcheaney@wng.org

Janie B. Cheaney

Janie is a senior writer who contributes commentary to WORLD and oversees WORLD’s annual Children’s Books of the Year awards. She also writes novels for young adults and authored the Wordsmith creative writing curriculum. Janie resides in rural Missouri.


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