Patti Armstrong is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. She has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. Patti and her husband live in North Dakota, where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.
The latest devilish tactic is Satanic clubs planned for public elementary schools across the country. The situation ultimately boils down to either allowing them in schools alongside Christian groups or agreeing to exclude all religious clubs.
Gone are the days when schools could say: No, this is evil and insane and it’s not going to happen here. Instead, it’s an all or nothing world—everyone or no one. Although the ultimate end game is to drive all religion from schools, for now, members of the Satanic Temple are making their point by moving to force schools to allow their clubs. It’s been a successful maneuver for them—driving Christian groups, monuments, and prayers out of public square lest we have to also host the devil.
Counteracting Christianity in Public Schools
According to a Washington Post article, leaders of the Satanic Temple gathered last month in Salem, Massachusetts to counteract Christian evangelical after-school religious groups. The Post quoted Doug Mesner, the Satanic Temple’s co-founder: “It’s critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think.”
Their website warns against the evangelical Good News Clubs instilling a fear of Hell and the fact that allowing God into schools represents only one religious opinion. The plan is for Satanic chapter heads to petition schools to immediately allow the clubs. Leaders participating in this meeting were from New York, Boston, Utah, Arizona, Minneapolis, Detroit, San Jose, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Florida. The promotional video for the clubs on their site is full of disturbing, odd behaviors with discordant, eerie sounds. I only looked at a few seconds, skipped ahead a few times and saw that the macabre theme continued throughout. Don’t waste your time but if you insist, at least first pray prayers of protection, especially the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel.
Their website states that the Supreme Court ruled in 2001 in Good News Club v. Milford Central School that schools may not discriminate against religious speech if a religious organization wants to operate an after school club on their premises. After School Satan Clubs insist they also cannot be denied wherever Christian or any other religious clubs, operate. The Satanic Temple claims they don’t even really believe in the devil but are committed to scientific rationality. The curriculum for clubs sounds positively wholesome: develop reasoning and social skills, including a healthful snack, and literature and science lessons, creative learning activities, puzzle solving, and an art project. Parents need to sign a permission slip for students to join—a pact with the devil, so to say.
The Legal Straitjacket
In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an after-school program cannot be excluded based on religious views. So now, there is a reported 3,560 Good News Clubs in more than 5 percent of the nation’s public elementary schools. The Satanic Temple plans to use the religious freedom laws to also get into schools. Their clubs promote benevolence and empathy and criticize the Good News Clubs as instilling fear and prejudice.
The Satanic Temple is using a blend of political activism that has served them well of late. In 2014, after the Supreme Court ruled that prayers before public meetings did not violate the First Amendment, the Satanic Temple offered to recite a prayer at an Arizona town meeting that usually opened with a Christian prayer. Instead, the town opted to skip prayers.
Last spring, Satanic materials were distributed in Colorado schools. Based on school policy that states that if they allow one type of literature to be passed out then they have to allow all types of information to be available to students. The Western Colorado Atheist and Freethinkers admitted that they were actually handing out controversial literature simply to force all religion out of schools. The Delta School District is already looking into revising their policy not to allow material on religion or beliefs.
The scare tactics have also worked in the public square as a ploy to get religious monuments removed. For instance, when the Oklahoma City Council would not allow a Satanic statue alongside a monument of the Ten Commandments, the case went to the state Supreme Court which ruled that anything relating to religion was not allowed. In these cases, the Satanists see it’s a win either way: either their Satanic stuff goes public or the Christian stuff goes away.
As Christians, our arms are being twisted. We are forced to decide to have Satan bare his ugly head and fight him publically for souls, or hide our own religious beliefs. Which is a better scenario? What do you think? Or is there another way?