A group called the Satanic Temple is boasting of a “historic win for abortion rights,” citing a comment in court by Missouri’s solicitor general that ultrasounds are not required to obtain an abortion in the state.
Solicitor General D. John Sauer spoke in oral arguments at the Missouri Supreme Court in the Satanic Temple’s lawsuit against the state’s “informed consent” law.
The Satanic Temple said Missouri’s abortion providers regularly have performed ultrasounds, believing they are required under the law, which is intended to equip women with information about the baby they’re carrying before obtaining an abortion. However, the pro-abortion group NARAL lists 13 states that require an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion, and Missouri is not one of them.
Missouri’s law requires a mandatory three-day waiting period for abortions and requires that doctors providing abortions give women a booklet that says “the life of each human being begins at conception.”
The abortion providers also must offer women an ultrasound and give them an opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.
The Satanic Temple sued Missouri, claiming the law interfered with the ability of one of its members to terminate her pregnancy.
Although the Satanic Temple includes atheists and religious skeptics and claims no belief in a supernatural being, it based its lawsuit on Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, describing itself as a “non-theistic religious organization dedicated to Satanic practice and the promotion of Satanic rights.”
The group claims its member’s rights under RFRA were violated because the ultrasound requirement has no medical or other compelling purpose.
The group argued the “imposition of an ultrasound and the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat were both medically unnecessary and an attempt to impose shame upon [the plaintiff], in violation of her personal religious beliefs.”
As WND reported, the Satanic Temple, which recently pressed for an “After School Satan Club” at a Washington state elementary school, says it views Satan as a literary figure, symbolic of rebellion, and regards Satanism as a “formidable weapon to fight” against the “religious right” for “the separation of church and state.”
Members of the group also showed up at a high-school football game in Washington state 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.”
‘Liberating women of alternative faiths’
In an audio recording of the arguments published by the court, a justice asked Sauer if “it’s the position of the State that an ultrasound does not have to be conducted unless a person says they want the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.”
Sauer affirmed the state’s interpretation of the ultrasound statute is that women only be offered the “opportunity” to have an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat, and if a woman declines hearing the audio, the ultrasound need not be performed and the requirement has been satisfied.
Sauer, arguing for the law, also told the justices that the state is not forcing “Mary Doe,” the Satanic Temple member, to endorse a view on when life begins. And he insisted her religious views were not affected by the law.
Missouri’s attorney general’s office argued in court papers: “Even if Doe has alleged a restriction on free exercise (of religion), the Informed Consent Law clearly serves compelling state interests and is not unduly restrictive on Doe’s asserted exercise of religion.”
The AG’s office said the Satanic Temple member “failed to allege an ‘exercise of religion’ that was ‘restricted’ within RFRA’s meaning, because she alleged only an interest in avoiding exposure to information with which she disagreed, and she failed to allege any religious belief that would be violated by such exposure to information.”
Declaring Sauer’s comments amounted to a victory, the Satanic Temple’s “reproductive rights spokeswoman,” Jex Blackmore, said the “state’s interpretation of the law will allow women in Missouri seeking an abortion to do so with a level of dignity not currently available to them.”
“Women will no longer be forced to decide whether or not they want to listen to the fetal heartbeat while naked, with their feet in stirrups, and a transvaginal ultrasound wand inside of them,” she said.
The Satanic Temple said that while the state Supreme Court has not reached a verdict in its case, Satanic Temple v. Attorney General Joshua D. Hawley, “it’s clear that the State’s imposition of a religious opinion regarding the beginning of life and mandated 72-hour waiting period intended to force women to consider the State’s beliefs, is a violation of individual religious liberties of those who do not agree with the State’s position.”
Blackmore insisted a ruling against the Satanic Temple “would demonstrate that the courts believe that religious liberties as they relate to reproductive rights exclusively apply to Christians such as in the Hobby Lobby case.”
“We look forward to proving our case in court, and liberating women of alternative faiths from the State’s oppressive theocratic stranglehold over personal medical health procedures,” she said.
As WND reported in 2013, a 20-week abortion ban bill in Texas drew national attention when supporters of the legislation chanted “Hail Satan” while pro-life advocates sang “Amazing Grace.”
See video of abortion advocates chanting “Hail Satan”:
In her book “The Happy Satanist,” the leader of the Satanic Temple in Seattle, which pressed 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 explained in the introduction to her 2015 book.
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.”
Meanwhile, in Mount Vernon, Washington, about 60 miles north of Seattle, the Satanic Temple of Seattle threatened a lawsuit to force Centennial Elementary School to allow its After School Satan Club.
The Satanists were 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.
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’
In August 2016, 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.