When it comes to the After School Satan clubs promoted by The Satanic Temple, there are a few big talking points everyone should understand:
1) These clubs are only being formed in schools that already have a Christian Good News Club; in other words, they want equal treatment under the law. (And even then, I suspect most schools won’t have enough interest to get an ASS group off the ground.)
2) The Satanic group is big on teaching ethics and kindness, not indoctrinating children into atheism or Satanism.
3) The districts will have to decide whether to accept both clubs under the umbrella of religious freedom or reject the Satanists and risk a lawsuit.
This was so very clearly about equality that even Christian legal group Liberty Counsel’s founder had nothing to complain about:
“I would definitely oppose after-school Satanic clubs, but they have a First Amendment right to meet,” said Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman. “I suspect, in this particular case, I can’t imagine there’s going to be a lot of students participating in this. It’s probably dust they’re kicking up and is likely to fade away in the near future for lack of interest.”
“They have a First Amendment right to meet.” Yes they do. That’s exactly the point. We agree! *High five*
But Staver took a very different approach yesterday when sending a message to his group’s own members.
In a Liberty Counsel press release, Staver talked about how his group would file lawsuits against ASS clubs if necessary:
“The so-called Satanist group has nothing good to offer the students and its entire reason for existence is to be disruptive. Schools do not have to tolerate groups which disrupt the school and target other legitimate clubs. No sane parents would consent to allow their child to attend this group. Full of sound and fury, this group will soon fade away,” concluded Staver.Liberty Counsel has offered pro bono legal counsel to the schools targeted by this disruptive group.
Why does he think they’ll be disruptive? Who knows. It’s not like Staver has evidence of this. It’s just his own Christian bigotry mixed with his persecution complex: Anyone who’s not in a Christian club must be anti-Christian.
The Satanic Temple has made very clear that their groups will function just like all other after school clubs. They’ll play by the same rules as everyone else. It’s not like their mission is to interrupt Good News Club meetings or demonize (ha!) Christians.
The truth is: If Satanists treated Christians the way Staver treats them, we’d never hear the end of it. But the moral high ground belongs to The Satanic Temple. Staver just thinks it’s okay when he does it because he has Jesus in his corner.
***Update***: The Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves said in a press release today:
“The argument levied by the Good News Club is insensible and absurd,” claims Satanic Temple spokesperson and co-founder Lucien Greaves. “When the Good News Club first tried to insinuate its way into public schools, the reasonable concern was that its presence would be considered disruptive. Justice Scalia rejected this argument stating that speech could not be limited just because somebody objected loudly enough.” Despite the fact that many people find the Good News Club’s presence to be loathsome and disruptive, the Good News Club was permitted to hold meetings at public schools. “Further,” Greaves adds, “Staver has never seen the After School Satan Club curriculum, yet he seems to be commenting upon its content. Staver claims that the After School Satan Clubs only exist to counter the Good News Clubs, and are therefore ‘disruptive.’ One could as easily argue that Good News Clubs only exist to counter secular education, and are at least equally as disruptive.”
Greaves adds, “The hypocrisy of the Liberty Council is so egregious that it should be offensive to even their supporters who genuinely support religious liberty and seek Government viewpoint neutrality. Mat Staver has made a mockery of the Liberty Counsel’s claimed mission with his recent disingenuous and unintelligent statements. Claiming the Liberty Counsel fights for religious freedom while offering pro bono services to suppress religions they disapprove of is hypocritical and a bald faced attempt to advance theocracy.”
(Thanks to @Freethoughtful for the link)