If anything was going to send God-fearing parents into moral panic and meltdown, it's the news that The Satanic Temple, an activist and religious organisation, want to open after school satan clubs in elementary schools across the US. Cue "Won't somebody please think of the children!" Simpsons GIF.
Last week the group contacted nine districts asking to start an after school club. The temple's co-founder Lucien Greaves says the group want to do it because at the moment, in all but one district, after school religious clubs are run by the Child Evangelism Fellowship Good News Clubs. In these clubs they are taught to pray and read the bible.
Greaves told the Guardian that the group want to run their After School Satan clubs to show that "people can be of different religious opinions and still be moral, upright people.” He also said, "We think that when kids are being exposed to the idea that they will burn in hell and other supernatural ideas, that there is a positive upshot to being exposed to the presence of a satanic afterschool program.”
Several of the districts are looking over Greaves' requests. The Granite school district in Utah has said if The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Massachusetts, meets all their requirements there won't be anything they can do to stop them.
Springfield public schools in Missouri is also reviewing the request as is Prince George’s County, Maryland. The other districts are in Georgia, California, Florida, Oregon, Washington state, and Arizona. Parental permission, like any after school club, will always be required before kids can attend. Some of the districts have pointed out that giving the group access to use the school's tax-payer funded facilities doesn't equal endorsement. While Greaves has stated that if they are denied access they may well pose tough legal fights.
Elaborating on why he wanted to open the clubs Greaves explained further, "It’s important that children be given an opportunity to realize that the religious materials now creeping into their schools are representative of but one religious opinion amongst many. While the Good News Clubs focus on indoctrination of children by way of evangelism, instilling them with a fear of Hell and God’s wrath, After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us. We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors.”
You can find out more about After School Satan on their website. You can even buy a The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities if you can't wait for those after school clubs to start.
Lucien Greaves from The Satanic Temple