In her book “The Happy Satanist,” the leader of a group pressing for an “After School Satan Club” at a Washington state elementary school admits she and her colleagues don’t believe in any supernatural being and view Satanism as a “formidable weapon to fight for the separation of church and state.”
“I’m proud to be part of a movement that dares to stand up to the increasingly shrill voices of the American theocracy, the intolerant religious bigots, and the abusers who use Christianity as an excuse for their evils,” Lillith Starr, the head of the Seattle chapter of the Satanic Temple, explained in the introduction to her 2015 book.
Members of Starr’s group also showed up at a high school football game where a coach had been leading post-game prayers, demanding they be given equal time. And a member in Alaska gave the invocation at a local council meeting that ended with, “Hail Satan.”
Starr explained what the Satanic Temple is about in a presentation to the Seattle Skeptics Society posted on the Seattle group’s website.
Starr said, according to the video: “At our core, we are an atheist activist group. That’s why we exist.”
She identified herself as a former ‘LaVeyan Satanist,’ a follower of the late Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan.
But a statement on the Seattle group’s website declares: “We are atheistic; we do not believe in supernatural beings like God or Satan. We celebrate the literary Satan as a potent symbol of rebellion against tyranny.”
“We have a lot of atheists, humanists, some skeptics,” Starr said in the presentation.
“Basically anyone who is really tired and fed up with what’s going on with the religious right in this country and they want to do something.”
In her book, she says the Satanic Temple is “currently making headline after headline as they show up the hypocrisy of Christian legislation, demanding equal rights for Satanists wherever Christianity is inserted into our governments, schools and laws.
‘In the spirit of free expression’
Last October in Bremerton, Washington, west of Seattle, the Satanic Temple of Seattle came to a Bremerton High School football game clad in devil costumes to demand equal access to pray publicly. They were responding to assistant coach Joe Kennedy’s post-game ritual of quietly praying on the 50-yard line, which drew a crowd of players, parents and local residents in solidarity when the practice was opposed as an alleged violation of the First Amendment. The Seattle Times reported at that time that a half-dozen students and teachers invited the Satanists to attend an Oct. 29, 2015, game in “the spirit of free expression.”
Now, in Mount Vernon, Washington, about 60 miles north of Seattle, the Satanic Temple of Seattle is considering a lawsuit to force Centennial Elementary School to allow its After School Satan Club, the local Skagit Valley Herald reported.
The Satanists are seizing on a 2001 Supreme Court ruling, Good News Bible Club vs. Milford Central School District, which stated that if schools allow any organization to use school property, they must allow access to all organizations, including religious ones.
The Mount Vernon district is one of nine nationwide that has been chosen by the Satanic Temple to host a pilot After School Satan Club because the districts also host a Good News Bible Club.
The Christian clubs are run by the international group Child Evangelism Fellowship.
Centennial Principal Erwin Stroosma said the Satanists were not invited to the school, the Mount Vernon paper reported.
“We feel like we’re pawns in a game – someone else is manipulating us,” he said.
The Satanists want to rent space at Centennial for about an hour after school one day a month.
The Mount Vernon School District has been advised by a lawyer that if the district denied the Satanists’ application it would face costly litigation and ultimately would be unsuccessful.
“We believe that it’s clear that, because the district has a policy and procedure that encourages the use of community groups to use your facilities, because you do that, you must open it to this group,” attorney Duncan Fobes told the school board Wednesday night, according to the paper. “You don’t have to sponsor the group, you don’t have to help the group.”
At a meeting of the school board, parents were asked to raise their hands if they didn’t want the After School Satan Club at Centennial. Nearly everyone in attendance expressed opposition.
“This is going to be infectious and widespread,” said Mike Cheek, who has grandchildren in the district, the Herald reported. “I know that if there is anything to do with Satan, it is dark and it is evil.”
Melissa McPhaden said she believed the reason the Satanists came to their district is “because they wanted a reaction.”
“And they got the reaction. I don’t think they want to start a Satanic club in Mount Vernon.”
Fobes said that while the district has the right to review the proposed curriculum for the club, it can’t bar the club from school property unless the curriculum contains hate speech, incites violence or includes pornography, the Herald reported.
“Very unfortunately, our hands are tied in this question,” Board President Rob Coffey said, according to the Mount Vernon paper. “We must make our facilities available – and in many cases we are eager to make them available – to Boys & Girls Clubs, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts. We must make them available whether we like the group or not. There really is no opportunity for us to say no to the Satanic Temple or the After School Satan Club.”
The paper said Superintendent Carl Bruner said Thursday he plans to meet again with the district’s lawyer, Fobes.
Starr, a graduate of Harvard, credits Satanism for turning her life around.
“In the philosophy of Satanism, she finally found the inner strength needed to beat a lifetime of addiction and depression,” according to her book’s promo copy. “Now she shares the secrets she learned on her Satanic journey back to well-being.
“Discover the positive, life-changing power of Satanism for yourself! Learn the truth behind the common misconceptions about Satanism, and how to tap into the deep reservoir of personal power we all have inside.”
Invocation at council meeting: ‘Hail Satan’
Last month, a member of the Satanic Temple in Alaska made news when she presented the opening prayer at a local council meeting in Alaska.
The government of Kenai Borough had decided to invite members of other faiths to give the invocation when it brought in Iris Fontana, who urged the assembly to “embrace the Luciferian impulse to eat of the tree of knowledge,” concluding with, “Hail Satan.”
Hello everyone, thank you for having me. Let us stand now, unbowed and unfettered by arcane doctrines, born of fearful minds in darkened times. Let us embrace the Luciferian impulse to eat of the tree of knowledge and dissipate our blissful and comforting delusions of old. Let us demand that individuals be judged for their concrete actions, not their fealty to arbitrary social norms and illusory categorizations. Let us reason our solutions with agnosticism in all things, holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true. Let us stand firm against any and all arbitrary authority that threatens the personal sovereignty of all or one. That which will not bend must break and that which can be destroyed by truth should never be spared its demise. It is done. Hail Satan. Thank you.