Satanic statue part of holiday decorations at Illinois Capitol

The Satanic Temple of Chicago has installed a stately and elegant statue at the Illinois Capitol between the Christmas tree and Hanukkah menorah. Predictably, some people are pissed. Approximately 4.5 feet tall, the statue features a snake around an arm with the hand clutching an apple. The pedestal is emblazoned with the statement "Knowledge is the greatest gift." From CNN:

"We feel it's a First Amendment issue, we have other displays there -- a Hanukkah menorah and Nativity scene," (Secretary of State's office spokesperson Dave) Drucker said. "If you have displays of one type you need to be consistent and allow everyone to do so, aside from hate speeches and other unacceptable things."

The Satanic Temple says that its members are atheists who are often interested in community activism, according to the group's website.

"We do not promote a belief in a personal Satan," the website says. "To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions." The group says it embraces the "struggle for justice" and believes people should "strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures," according to its website.

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Bavaria says its mandatory crosses aren't religious, so there should be no problem hanging them upside-down, right?

Bavaria's far-right, Islamophobic government enacted its Kreuzpflicht ("cross obligation") law, which mandates that every government building must display a Christian cross, and finessed this violation of Germany's legally enforced separation of church and state by claiming the crosses were "cultural," not "religious" and by saying that each building "should hang up the cross as they think best." Read the rest

"After School Satan Club" could be coming to elementary schools in the U.S.

Now that public schools across the country have opened their doors to after-school evangelical religious programming, the Satanic Temple thinks it's only fair to establish an "After School Satan Club" in elementary schools across the country to give children a choice.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Good News Clubs, which are sponsored by an organization founded in 1937 called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), aim to reach children as young as 5 with a fundamentalist form of evangelical Christianity. For most of their history, Good News Clubs were largely excluded from public schools out of concern that their presence would violate the Constitution.

In 2001, in a case that commanded the resources of powerful legal advocacy groups on the religious right, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Liberty Counsel, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that to exclude an after-school program on account of the religious views of its sponsors amounted to a violation of free-speech rights. The CEF then went on a tear, and by 2011, it reported 3,560 Good News Clubs, putting them in more than 5 percent of the nation's public elementary schools.

The Satanic Temple makes no secret of its desire to use that same approach.

"We would like to thank the Liberty Counsel specifically for opening the doors to the After School Satan Clubs through their dedication to religious liberty," [Satanic Temple co-founder] Lucien Greaves explained to the gathering of chapter heads in Salem. "So, 'the Satanic Temple leverages religious freedom laws that put after-school clubs in elementary schools nationwide.' That's going to be the message."

Should schools allow the establishment of an "After School Satan Club," the Satanic Temple will not preach religions, Greaves told the paper. Read the rest