The Satanic Temple has been approved to host an after-school program for students at a Virginia elementary school starting in December, according to reports.
“After School Satan Club” will be offered at B.M. Williams Primary School in Chesapeake, Virginia, beginning on Dec. 15, according to a flyer promoting the club.
The club’s flyer, which “After School Satan Club” national campaign director June Everett posted to Reddit, said the monthly Satanist meetings will teach children “benevolence and empathy, critical thinking, problem-solving, creative expression, personal sovereignty, and compassion.”
The “After School Satan Club” flyer describes Satan “as a literary figure who represents a metaphorical construct of rejecting tyranny and championing the human mind and spirit.” Although the club announcement said it “does not attempt to convert children to any religious ideology,” it does admit to offering “activities centered around the seven fundamental tenets” of the Satanic Temple.
Everett told NBC affiliate WAVY that the club was organized in response to the formation of a Christian after-school group, the “Good News Club,” at the same Virginia elementary school. She said the Satanic club goes “to schools where other religious clubs are operating” to give an alternative to the Christian-based option, WAVY reported.
“The initial shock is always like, ‘Oh my God, Satan!’ Everett told the outlet. “We do have our deeply held religious beliefs, which are our seven tenants. If you look them over, it’s essentially, ‘be a good person,'” she added.
After parents complained about the Satanic Temple’s club being allowed to operate on school property, Chesapeake Public Schools (CPS) Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton sent a letter to families clarifying that this club is not a school district-approved club but still allowed to host the gathering after hours with parental permission, according to the letter reported on by The Spectator World.
“The School District has long held policies and procedures in place which allow varied community groups to use our publicly funded facilities outside of the school day,” the letter stated. “By law, CPS cannot discriminate based on beliefs among groups wishing to rent our facilities.”
“It is important to note that CPS does not endorse any of the activities or content of groups that host events on school district property outside the instructional day,” the letter added.
The issue over the after-school club was added to the agenda for the school board’s Dec. 12 meeting, WAVY reported. Everett said that, regardless of the meeting’s outcome, “the board doesn’t really get to decide … who has access and who doesn’t,” according to the outlet.
“So while I appreciate that they are letting concerned community members come in and vent, it’s really out of their hands,” Everett continued. “Even if you don’t like us, we’re part of what makes the United States a great country, where you can believe what you want to believe or not.”
CPS parent Joe Lathrop called the satanic after-school club’s claim to be non-religious “intellectually dishonest.”
“Several people have told me that the new Satan after-school club at Golden Hills elementary is not a religion but a philosophy club … Then why did they choose Satan? Why not the Jean Paul Satre [sic] existentialism club? Why not the Descartes club? They put Satan in the name for a reason,” Lathrop wrote on Facebook, according to The Spectator World. “People should stop being intellectually dishonest and just own up to the fact that they want kids to worship Satan as a secular god.”