10 Battles For Religious Equality Fought By Satanists
Religious equality means that all religions ought to be equal. If Christians can pray in school, then Muslims should be allowed pray in school. And if Jews can put up menorahs in public buildings, then it’s only fair that Satanists be allowed to put up severed goat heads with inverted pentagrams carved into their skulls.
That, at least, is the position of the Satanic Temple, an organization that is determined to fight every battle for religious equality they can. Over the last few years, the Satanists have put up some intense battles to get equal billing alongside Christianity—and it’s resulted in some of the strangest battles for equal rights you could ever imagine.
10 The Right To Invoke Satan Before City Council Meetings
At this very moment, the city of Scottsdale, Arizona, is being sued by Satanists. The charge is religious discrimination because, in 2016, the city of Scottsdale refused to let the Satanic Temple open city council meetings with an invocation unto the Dark Lord Satan.
Scottsdale almost let them do it, though. The city allows people of all faiths to sign up to open council meetings with a prayer, and when Satanist Michelle Shortt put her name on the list, they originally said “yes.” They accepted her request because they were afraid she’d sue for religious discrimination if they said no—which, as it turns out, was a pretty valid concern.
It wasn’t the first time something like this happened, either. Back in 2014, a man named Chaz Stevens demanded that the state of Florida let him open a meeting with a Satanic prayer. Florida ended up completely banning prayer before government meetings altogether, just so that they wouldn’t have to put up with Stevens’s nonsense, which was his plan all along. He wasn’t actually a Satanist—he just wanted to make a point. He told the press:
I just want equal billing. We allow various religious nutjobs to give a prayer. They pray to Jesus, who is make-believe; God, who is make-believe; why not Satan, who is make-believe?
9 The Right For Satanic Christmas Displays
On Christmas 2014, the Florida state capitol building was adorned with every kind of holiday decoration you can imagine. There was Nativity scene showing the birth of Christ in the manger, a Hanukkah menorah, a Festivus pole made out of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans, a chair full of Spaghetti Monster noodles, and a diorama of Lucifer being cast into the pits of Hell, adorned with the words: “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple.”
The state wasn’t thrilled about the Satanic Temple’s contribution, which they called “grossly offensive.” But they were slightly less thrilled about the Satanic Temple’s lawyers, so they let them put it up.
As did the Michigan State Capitol. When word got out that Michigan was struggling to get their Nativity scene ready, the Satanic Temple eagerly volunteered to put up an exhibit of their own in its place. Under the First Amendment, Michigan couldn’t stop them from doing it, and so, that year, the Capitol Building was decorated with a snake coiled around a cross, standing in front of an inverted pentagram emblazoned with the head of Baphomet.
The people of Michigan weren’t thrilled—but, ironically, the press ended up praising the Satanists, saying they had “invigorated the Christmas spirit.” People were so upset that the state got more volunteers to help set up the Nativity scene than ever before. They had so much help that the Capitol ended up covered with Nativity displays.
And that’s how the Satanists saved Christmas.
8 The Capitol Building’s Statue Of Baphomet
The Arkansas Capitol Building very nearly got its own personal monument to Baphomet.
When Arkansas made plans to build a monument to the Ten Commandments in 2015, the Satanic Temple argued that they’d set a precedent that, in the name of religious equality, required them to approve their plan to build a 3-meter-tall (10 ft) bronze statue to the dark goat of the Sabbath.
Arkansas’s Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission approved the Satanic Temple’s proposal, but in the eleventh hour, the deal was quashed by the legislature. The Satanic Temple is currently fighting this one in court, though, so Arkansas may see a statue to Baphomet yet.
Detroit already has one. The Satanic Temple built another statue to Baphomet in 2015 (pictured above), this one showing two children affectionately gazing up at the goat-headed deity.
They’d originally built it for the capitol building of Oklahoma, where they took advantage of another Ten Commandments display to get their Baphomet statue on government grounds. Oklahoma, though, ended up tearing its Ten Commandments statue out of the ground just so that they wouldn’t have to put up Baphomet, and today, the statue sits in front of a Satanic church, instead.
7 The Satanic Right To Pray In Schools
When Florida governor Rick Scott announced that he was going to legalize prayer in school, he found supporters from the last place he’d ever wanted: the Satanic Temple.
Scott’s proposal said that students should have the right to deliver “inspirational messages” of their own choosing at school events, including religious prayers. It wasn’t discriminatory, he argued, because it allowed messages from all faiths.
A politician named Jeff Clemons pointed out that Scott’s law would technically allow students to read to their schools from the “Aryan Satanic Manifesto” if they considered it “inspiration”—which, it turned out, was eerily prophetic.
Sure enough, the Satanic Temple chimed in to throw their support behind Rick Scott, saying that they looked forward to the day when public schools around the state could open Christmas festivals with children loudly denying Christ.
6 Centennial Elementary’s “After School Satan” Club
Washington State’s Mount Vernon School District, after a long fight, finally agreed to run an After School Satan club at their Centennial Elementary School in 2016.
They opened the doors to a Satanist recruitment club for kids when they let a Christian group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship run a Good News Bible Club out of the school. Every day after class, children would have the option to spend some time learning about the Bible on school grounds—and the Satanic Temple argued that they should have the option to learn about Satan, too.
The Satanists wanted to run a monthly, hour-long after-school program on the school campus, where one of the heads of the Satanic Temple would have come and taught them the seven tenets of Satanism.
The school’s lawyer, Duncan Forbes, flat-out told the school that they had to accept it, saying: “I think that if the school district denied that application, you would face costly litigation that would be distracting from your mission and would ultimately be unsuccessful.”
In the end, despite protests from the parents, the school caved and let them do it. The Satanists, though, actually pulled out. The only time available to run their After School Satan program would have been several hours after school ended, and they—and the Bible club—both ended up dropping out on their own.
5 A Tribute To Our Fallen, Satan-Worshipping Veterans
When the city of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, put up a monument to their fallen veterans that showed a kneeling soldier praying over a cross, they didn’t imagine it would ever get them in any trouble. They put it in a designated open forum, a special area where anyone could put up any monument. Their monuments could even use religious symbols. The only condition was that it honored the veterans.
And so the Satanic Temple sent them plans for a monument of their own. Ostensibly worried that those veterans who worshiped Satan weren’t being given their proper due, the Satanic Temple built a monument showing a soldier’s hat resting atop a black cube covered in inverted pentagrams.
Rather than let them build it, the city ended up tearing their open forum down. The Satanic Temple is suing them for discrimination anyway, though. They argue that the timing makes it clear that the open forum was only shut down to keep them out. They won’t rest until they see America’s Satanic veterans get the monument they deserve.
4 Bremerton Football’s Postgame Invocation Of Lucifer
In 2015, when Bremerton High School’s football coach, Joe Kennedy, started ending every game by huddling his players together in prayer, a student at the school named Abe Bartlett demanded the same right. If Coach Kennedy and his team got to pray on school grounds, he argued, he should have the right to invoke Satan.
Bartlett’s demand became a whole fiasco, and pretty soon, a good dozen or so Satanists were traveling from every part of the country to attend the next game and help Bartlett lead his unholy prayer.
The students, as you can imagine, weren’t thrilled. The swarmed the Satanists, some holding up crosses, others throwing water at them, and the whole lot chanting the name of Jesus. And in spite of the Satanists, Kennedy led his team in prayer once more.
The Satanists never stepped on the field—but they made enough of a commotion to get Kennedy suspended. The school district, worried about how all this was going to explode, gave him direct orders not to pray with his players, and when Kennedy defied them, they had no choice but to put him on administrative leave.
3 Harvard’s Fight For The Right To Hold Black Mass
The Harvard Extension Culture Studies Club, in 2014, decided to hold a Satanic Black Mass.
Their plan was to put on the unholy ritual in the basement of the freshman dining hall, where they would lead students in a recreation of the desecration of the host and “reaffirm their respect for the Satanic faith.”
At least, that was what they said. Really, the whole thing was just a stunt to freak people out. The club, in a more honest statement, said: “The point of this event is to challenge the stigmatization of marginalized groups.” But if their way of doing that was to scare people, they more than succeeded.
Catholic students held rallies against it. Some fought with love, with one reverend putting on a series of Catholic gatherings and declaring that they would “overwhelm it with loving and prayerful speech.” Others fought it with petitions and complaints, with more than 100,000 people signing petitions to cancel the Black Mass.
In the end, the event got canceled—but not because of the protests. The Club just couldn’t get a location to sign on to host it and, after all that fussing, just gave up and moved onto something else.
2 The Satanic Children’s Big Book Of Activities
In 2014, the Satanic Temple petitioned the Orange County Board of Education for the right to hand out coloring and activity books that teach children about Satanism.
They called it “The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities,” and it was full of fun games for Satan worshipers of all ages. It had a connect-the-dots that tricked kids into drawing an inverted pentagram, a “spot the differences” that showed a little girl performing a Satanic ritual, and even a coded message that, when you cracked it, spelled out the words: “Satan Blessed Be.”
Their argument was that an Evangelic group had recently been allowed to pass out Bibles at the school, so the Satanists deserved the right to pass out their own religious tracts. Orange County, unsurprisingly, turned them down and instead officially banned the distribution of religious materials altogether.
But schools in Delta, Colorado, actually let them do it. In 2016, they invited the Satanic Temple into their elementary schools and let them set up a whole booth, complete with The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities and pamphlets with titles like “It’s Okay to Not Believe in God.” The chosen date for the event, though, was April 1.
1 The Fight For The Right To Turn Dead People Gay
In 2013, police in Mississippi put out an arrest warrant for members of the Satanic Temple after they’d visited the grave of Catherine Johnston, the mother of Fred Phelps (founder of the Westboro Baptist Church), and performed a ritual that they claimed had turned her gay.
The ritual, which they called a “Pink Mass,” was mostly a way of poking fun at both the Mormon practice of baptizing the dead and the Westboro Baptist Church’s affection for holding up signs that say “God Hates Fags.”
The Satanists read scripture passages, lit candles, and had same-sex couples make out over Johnston’s grave. Afterward, Satanic Temple leader Lucien Greaves released a statement declaring: “We believe that Fred Phelps is obligated to believe that his mother is now gay in the afterlife.”
Their crime wasn’t actually making Fred Phelps’s mother gay. Instead, the Satanists were charged with trespassing, malicious mischief, and indecent exposure—a charge earned by Greaves, who exposed himself over Johnston’s grave.
The Satanists weren’t Mississippi locals and haven’t been extradited by any other states. And so, despite the arrest warrant, they’re still free, continuing their noble fight for . . . for—well, you know—for whatever point they’re trying to make.