Kyle Kester: After School Satan

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In an article published by the LA Times, Lilith Starr, the founder of the Satanic Temple of Seattle, attempted to have after school “Satan Clubs” for elementary school students. These clubs, according to Starr, are not clubs to promote Satan as a figure of worship (for they don’t believe in Satan’s existence), rather they are offered to students to teach them the importance of values such as scientific evolution, skepticism, and freedom or expression (whether this expression promotes or criticizes modern religion.) The movement attempted to get at least a dozen of these clubs across the country. When Lilith Starr tried to get approval for the club in the Los Angeles School District, she was turned down. The district claimed the club “does not meet the minimum requirement of having the school’s approval,” though these requirements were suspiciously not mentioned. This is also the only school district, according to the article, to outright reject the club, suggesting that the other school districts have approved it.

This story got me thinking about the video our class watched in lecture with the two women walking in the city discussing disabled bodies and what it means to have an “acceptable” body. I recall the follow up question we had to answer was, “in what way does this question help us understand religion?” I took this question and replaced acceptable “body” with “religion.” What does it mean to have a socially acceptable religion? At what point is something not considered an acceptable religion anymore? This story greatly examines that question. While it’s an unconventional and self proclaimed “non-superstitious” religion, it is still a religion at that, and desires to be treated as such on a government level, yet, the organization was discriminated against and turned down when asking for the same rights that other religious groups had. Why was the group really turned down? Why were people reacting so fearfully and angry when they found out there was a possibility of having this kind of club available to their children? Is it because this religion isn’t considered acceptable since it isn’t Judeo-Christian? At what point are some religions allowed the same rights as dominant groups? Where is the line drawn? This goes beyond the original question and even treads territory of exploring the idea of the first amendment. Does this rejection violate the freedom of and freedom from religion?

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