The Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple sparked backlash after announcing its first “After School Satan Club” chapter in Tennessee, which will include teachings like there is no Hell and “Satan is not an evil guy.”
According to its website, the Satanic Temple explained that “The After School Satan Club does not believe in introducing religion into public schools and will only open a club if other religious groups are operating on campus.”
“ASSC exists to provide a safe and inclusive alternative to the religious clubs that use threats of eternal damnation to convert school children to their belief system. Unlike our counterparts, who publicly measure their success in young children’s ‘professions of faith,’ the After School Satan Club program focuses on science, critical thinking, creative arts, and good works for the community,” the group continued. “While engaged in all of these activities, we want clubgoers to have a good time.”
“Satan’s not an evil guy. He wants you to learn and question why. He wants you to have fun and be yourself. And by the way, there is no Hell,” it goes in part. “Satan looks for truth, let’s help him, boys and girls.”
In a statement shared with WMC, The Satanic Temple contended that they have the legal right to have an after-school club since there is a Christian club at Chimneyrock Elementary in Memphis.
Some parents and grandparents, however, took issue with the new club.
“I think it’s B.S.,” parent Courtney Dennis told the outlet. “I think it needs to be held somewhere else, not a school.”
During a press conference last Wednesday, MSCS Interim Superintendent Toni Williams, School Board members, faith-based organizations, and community partners Williams explained why she gave renting space to The After School Satan Club despite her religious beliefs and backlash from the community.
“I, too, am a woman of faith. That’s no secret. And as a graduate of this district, I have witnessed firsthand the great work of our faith-based communities,” Williams said in a statement.
“As the Superintendent of Memphis-Shelby County Schools, my sole focus is our students, families, and community. I’ve championed their needs, rallied support, and never shied away from tough conversations to advocate for my students’ needs.”
“Like many of you, I have strong beliefs and resonate deeply with the questions and concerns in our community surrounding a club’s upcoming rental of school space. I want to assure you that I do not endorse or support the beliefs of the organization at the center of the recent headlines. I do, however, support the law. As superintendent, I am duty-bound to uphold our board policies, state laws, and the Constitution.”
Williams also urged faith groups who oppose The After School Satan Club’s message should not prevent them from setting up in public schools.
“Let’s not be fooled. What we’ve seen in the past 24 hours is an agenda initiated to ensure that we cancel all faith-based organizations that partner with our school district. Because the law says what you do for one organization, you must do for all,” she said.
“In the wake of recent news stories, some have demanded that we ban all faith-based organizations, but that penalizes thousands of children, feeds fear, and bends to outsiders’ agendas,” the superintendent added.
“Schools are more than just places for academics. They are safe havens where staff and volunteers develop the extraordinary potential of tomorrow’s leaders. Today, this is a call to action. I challenge you not to push away in fear but rather to push in with support. Memphians are smarter than simple narratives. We can support the First Amendment and support our students at the same time.”
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.