The Satanic Temple Wants to Place a Monument Outside Oklahoma’s Capitol Building. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I did a bit of a double-take when I saw this press release hit my inbox:

The Satanic Temple Offers Donation of Monument to Oklahoma State Capitol

This is the group, you might recall, that performed a “Pink Mass” over the tombstone of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps‘ mother over the summer.

So what were they up to now?

The Satanic Temple, an established New York City-based religious organization, has offered to donate a public monument to Oklahoma’s Capitol Preservation Commission for display upon Oklahoma City’s capitol grounds. Described as an “homage” to Satan, the purpose of the monument is to complement and contrast the Ten Commandments monument that already resides on the North side of the building. The donation offer has been submitted and is currently awaiting the commission’s reply.

When other government buildings have played host to religious displays, atheists have come in to place monuments of their own. This is really no different, so more power to them! What better way to convince public officials that they’re better off not allowing government buildings to become a religious free-for-all?

That was basically the mindset of temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves:

[According to Greaves], “by accepting our offer, the good people of Oklahoma City will have the opportunity to show that they espouse the basic freedoms spelled out in the Constitution. We imagine that the ACLU would also embrace such a response. Allowing us to donate a monument would show that the Oklahoma City Council does not discriminate, and both the religious and non-religious should be happy with such an outcome. Our mission is to bring people together by finding common sentiments that create solutions that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.”

Sounds downright pleasant, really.

As you can imagine, I had a lot of questions — about the proposed monument and Satanism in general — and Greaves was kind enough to answer them all:

Has the temple done anything like this before (offering a monument to challenge First Amendment rights)?

We have not specifically offered a monument previously, but we have asserted our voice on other First Amendment issues. Earlier this year, we held a rally in Florida on the Capitol steps in Tallahassee in support of Governor Rick Scott for his passage of a Senate Bill [SB 98] which allows for “inspirational messages” at assemblies in schools. We took the position that SB 98 — while apparently an attempt to promote Christian beliefs in public schools — instead promoted religious diversity. We applauded the proposition that Satanic students (or students of any religion) could now let their beliefs be known publicly to classmates who might otherwise never be educated about them.

Obviously enabling Satanists to take advantage of the Bill was not considered when the legislation was drafted. The fact is that laws cannot be discriminatory. Ours is a religiously pluralistic nation, and we asserted that we are prepared to take full advantage of our religious liberties on behalf of an often ignored and marginalized demographic. We’ll let the courts decide whether or not a strong Separation of Church and State is preserved. We are happy to indulge in whatever liberties are granted to religious organizations.

What prompted you to offer Oklahoma the monument (when there have been other government locations with Ten Commandments monuments)?

We have many active members in Oklahoma. They were the ones who apprised us about the monument. These are people who are willing to sign affidavits or submit whatever paperwork is necessary to affirm that they are both residents of Oklahoma City and members of The Satanic Temple. This is necessary, as Oklahoma could reject our request to place a monument at their State Capitol if there were no Satanists there to establish a need for representation. We also have membership in other areas where 10 Commandments monuments stand, but Oklahoma City seems particularly appropriate as their Capitol Preservation Commission indicated — in light of the controversy over their 10 Commandments monument — that they were receptive to more monuments. In fact, the 10 Commandments monument is said to be but the first installment in what is envisioned to be a “monument park”. Word is, the State Capitol is also in the process of constructing a chapel on their grounds.

The Ten Commandments monument outside the Oklahoma State Capitol building (AP)

What will you do if your monument is rejected?

We are at a loss to think of a legal basis upon which they possibly could reject us. They have set the precedent themselves, and they simply can’t reject a monument on the grounds that it its being donated by Satanists rather than a Baptist Deacon (as was the case with the 10 Commandments monument).

When was the donation offer sent to them? (And to whom was it sent?)

Our request was addressed primarily to the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission, but we copied the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, as well as the ACLU representatives who had contested the 10 Commandments monument. The letter was sent by Certified Mail and was received by the commission on November 21, 2013.

At what point will you take your next step if you don’t hear back?

I can happily report that we have very recently heard back from the commission. The representative was extremely polite and friendly and sent us the form needed to accompany the design for our proposed monument. We have several designs in mind, and we are willing to adjust our monument to fit whatever pre-existing structural specifications they may require.

People will be freaked out by the name “Satanic Temple.” What do you say to appease them?

Some people will be put off by Satanism no matter how it is practiced, and we do not feel compelled to “appease” them. We are not apologetic for who we are. What we can do, however, is educate people so that they fear us for the right reasons.

We threaten to overturn a misguided sense of religious exceptionalism that has plagued the United States for a very long time. We promise to engage actively in political/cultural dialogues and re-assert religious pluralism. People who fear a challenge to the Judeo-Christian religiopolitical monopoly are correct to fear us. We assert that religion, at its best, is a narrative construct by which practitioners contextualize their lives. We believe that religious narrative should be malleable to conform to the best scientific evidence. We reject supernaturalism and strive to approach all things with reasonable agnosticism. Charlatans, mystic snake-oil salespeople, cults, pseudoscientists, witch-hunting conspiracists, and the like all are correct to fear us. We will be merciless in our debunking and discrediting of their exploitative practices. We will assert the rights of religious non-believers everywhere, and those who hold pious and pompous positions of arbitrary authority based on superstition and/or pseudoscience are wise to view us as a distinct threat.

What don’t people get about you?

Almost everything the general public thinks they know about Satanism is entirely wrong. Even in fairly educated circles it is sometimes assumed that there was some kernel of truth in the tales that emerged during the anti-Satanist “moral” panic of the 1980s. The conspiracy theory of a parallel society of homicidal Satanic cultists is nothing more than the delusional rantings of frightened mobs, the likes of which historically slaughtered Jews and presumed “witches” in the Middle Ages. We do not reject universal moral values — we reject arbitrary authority.

Satan, to us, is symbolic of our rejection of tyranny, and we bow to no God or gods. We stand with the unjustly accused, the slandered minority, and the unsilenced inquirer. We offer our counterforce against mob intolerance and demand reasoned solutions to all problems. We hold nothing so sacred as to be unquestionable; No Truth impervious to revision in light of new knowledge. We strive to reserve belief in only that which is demonstrably true, and hold to even those with the reservation that they, too, may ultimately be overturned. In this, we embrace the role of the heretic — heresy as it applies to the unceremonious discarding of archaic fetters which bind reason and would persist in counter-productive dogmas.

I don’t get how a Satanic Temple could encourage benevolence. Can you fix my ignorance here?

We feel that by forcing people to look beyond superstitious out-group categorizations — to judge people for their concrete actions, we naturally encourage benevolence. There is a term in social psychology, moral self-licensing, that refers to the phenomenon in which those who define themselves in terms of moral superiority tend to act more brazenly in an immoral manner. We are happy to confuse and upset simplistic White Hat/Black Hat Good Guy/Bad Guy notions that serve to ignore one’s real-world deeds in favor of their symbolic fealty to social norms. We start with the basic premise that suffering is bad, and should be reduced wherever possible. If you are working to that end, you are doing good… all else is just pomp and pretension.

I won’t pretend that I understand the group’s philosophy, but I understand their desire for church/state separation and I wish them the best of luck in getting their monument approved.

I mean, it totally won’t be, but I still wish them well.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    So they are LeVeyan satanists? Interesting article and as they said there is no legal basis for them to reject the monument.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Has the temple done anything like this before (offering a monument to challenge First Amendment rights)?

    You cynic, you. You should assume that they are sincere in their intent unless/until you find evidence to the contrary.

  • God’s Starship

    Good for them, I guess.
    I’m not going to debate Satanism…. because I don’t care. Shrugs

    • Art_Vandelay

      I don’t care either and these people obviously not only don’t worship Satan but don’t even believe in him. As far as I know, the only people that believe in Satan are Christians.

      • Patrick Dunn

        That was my impression from the interview. It’s like they just found a different, interesting spin to put on it. Reasonable agnosticism – sounds like us!

      • guest

        There are ‘theistic’ Satanists as well, unfortunately. Like gnostics on acid. Some of them think that Yaweh of the bible is the demiurge and Lucifer was trying to free humans from his tyrannical rule.

        • Little_Magpie

          which is *still* more sensible than the traditional reading.

      • MindofGod

        Obviously, you didn’t read the transcript. “We stand for no God or gods”. They use the term “Satan” because it means adversary in Hebrew. So, translated in English, they’re just “Adversarialists” who worship themselves and choose to wear the religion tag.

        • Art_Vandelay

          Right. So isn’t saying that they neither worship or believe in Satan completely accurate?

    • lmern

      You should really read the transcript. It’s incredibly enlightening.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    What we can do, however, is educate people so that they fear us for the right reasons.

    This guy is hilarious.

  • paulalovescats

    “We believe that religious narrative should be malleable to conform to
    the best scientific evidence. We reject supernaturalism and strive to
    approach all things with reasonable agnosticism.”
    Just as nutty as the WBC, if they actually believe in Satan. Maybe they really treat it like the church of the FSM.

    • LadyAvon

      They don’t actually believe in [a being named] Satan…it states that plainly in the article “Satan, to us, is symbolic of our rejection of tyranny”

    • John

      How did you miss the “We reject supernaturalism” bit in what you quoted there?

    • Dan Weeks

      I realize that they claim to not actually believe in a supernatural figure called Satan, and that he’s just a symbol of rebellion against God and the Church. I get all that.

      What I DON’T get, and what has earned me quite a bit of opposition here, of all places, is the claim that “religious narrative should be malleable to conform to the best scientific evidence.” Why do we even need a religious narrative at all? Can’t we just skip that part and go straight to the scientific evidence? It all seems like a bunch of bullshit.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    We stand with the unjustly accused, the slandered minority, and the unsilenced inquirer.

    I suspect he’s been reading some John Steinbeck.

    Tom Joad: Then it don’t matter. I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be
    everywhere. Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry
    people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy,
    I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in
    the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready,
    and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the
    houses they build – I’ll be there, too.

    • SAPilgrim

      “Go on! Laugh! But one day, you’ll be sitting in your house feeling all safe and secure, and then you’ll look over and I’ll be there, doin’ stuff!”

    • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

      Church of Steinbeck?

  • GeraardSpergen

    Fight on, Satanists of Oklahoma!

  • baal

    “What we can do, however, is educate people so that they fear us for the right reasons.”
    I kinda like that reason.

  • Spuddie

    “I would like to thank my wife and children, my parents who aways supported me, my dear beloved grandma who passed away this year, oh and Hail Satan”

    • Amor DeCosmos

      …and then you have to follow your speech up by giving the devil horns hand sign as you drop the mic and walk offstage!

    • JT Rager

      The day this graduation speech happens I will set up a scholarship for that kid. I don’t care how rich or poor I will be.

  • http://knowthesilence.blogspot.com/ Joshua

    I have been waiting for this exact thing to happen. With as many strides as various Atheist and Humanist groups have made in recent years in various church/state separation issues, I’ve always wanted to see the Church of Satan or a similar group throw its hat into the ring. I can’t wait so see how this plays out.

    • lmern

      I agree. I can’t pretend to know much about these guys, but I have to say, though some of his explanations are vague, I feel on the whole his reasons for the Satanic Church, the proposed monument, and their desires for getting involved are motivated by logical philosophies. I look forward to watching this progress.

      • http://CoffeeShopAtheist.com/blog Patrick

        “Satan, to us, is symbolic of our rejection of tyranny, and we bow to no God or gods. We stand with the unjustly accused, the slandered minority, and the unsilenced inquirer. We offer our counterforce against mob intolerance and demand reasoned solutions to all problems. We hold nothing so sacred as to be unquestionable; No Truth impervious to revision in light of new knowledge. We strive to reserve belief in only that which is demonstrably true, and hold to even those with the reservation that they, too, may ultimately be overturned.”

        Looks like they simply look at the character of satan as representative of those minorities who are crapped on for no reason by religious oppression. Sounds like they’re skeptics to me.

        • lmern

          Ya, I got that much :P
          But theres bound to be a variety of tenants in their Church and a variety of people with a range of beliefs and ideas. That’s what I meant.

          • Michael Harrison

            There was a webcomic I read a while back–Eye of the Goat, I believe it’s called–that explored the various religions and philosophies that adopted the label “Satanism.”

            • Timothy McLean

              Reading/

              It did that a bit…but it seems that cheap jokes, stupidity, and what may be the beginning of a plot take a higher priority.

    • JT Rager

      Indeed. I’m cool with Satanists. As far as I can tell, they’re really atheists who want to piss people off with their name. Probably not that simplistic, but we are working toward similar goals.

      • Amor DeCosmos

        …a lot of atheists like to tell religious people they’re Atheists just to piss people off as well. I totally agree that these Satanist guys are working with us, not against us.

      • http://knowthesilence.blogspot.com/ Joshua

        The great thing is that Satanists are the perfect foil when it comes to exposing Christian privilege and hypocrisy when it comes to church/state issues. When atheist groups try to challenge public displays by putting up their own, there are always people who don’t get it. Atheism isn’t a religion, so why would they get to say invocations before city council meetings? There is no “atheist holiday” that falls near Christmas, so why would they put a display next to a nativity scene? The initial reaction it tends to create is confusion, so much of the impact is lost.

        Having an actual religious group, one with a recognizable affiliation, doing it instead will garner more attention and do a better job of highlighting the problem, especially if that group can inspire an even more visceral reaction that atheism does. Satanists are the only group I can think of that will consistently fit that description. When we try to highlight some Christian encroachment into the public sphere, we often say “if it was a Muslim doing it, no one would stand for it,” but I don’t think that’s always true. I think there are people who would shrug off Muslim displays but get frothingly angry at the idea of having a Satanic display.

        • Stephanie

          Well said. My feelings as well. Can’t wait to see how it plays out.

  • LesterBallard

    Jesus Fucking Christ. I mean, Hail Fucking Lucifer!

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Won’t somebody at The Satanic Temple please think of the children?!

    Why not build a satanic jungle gym?

    • Jeff

      My school had one of those. And we had to climb it for gym class.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      They’re all satanic.

      • Spuddie

        Well you got caught with a flat

        Well how ’bout that

        Well babies don’t you panic

        By the light of the night

        It’ll all seem alright

        I’ll get you a Satanic mechanic

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc80tFJpTuo

        • baal

          He’s so sweet.

          (wait for it!)

          • Spuddie

            I am filled with antici………………………………………..pation

  • Georgina

    Satan is just another name for Lucifer, personally, I dislike it as it has conotations of ‘fallen angel’.
    Lucifer, like Promethius, was/is a proponant of light, knowledge and freedom. Not to mention fire (=warmth and cooked food).
    The christian bible states that he is the ruler of the earth (he offered Jesus co-rulership, and Jesus said he prefered his father’s kingdom), and the only time the Torah/christian bible reports him hurting anyone was when he killed Job’s family and animals – because Jahwe ordered their death.
    As far as I can see, he doesn’t actually ask anyone to worship him either. So how come he got to be the bad guy, and Jahwe the ‘good’ guy?

    • curtcameron

      No, Lucifer is mentioned once in the Bible, and it’s talking about the (very human) king of Babylon, possibly Nebuchadnezzar. Satan is different – he’s one of the heavenly hosts.

      Two different characters – one real, one mythical.

      • Dan Weeks

        And even that so-called mention doesn’t mention Lucifer by name, but rather the king of Babylon as “the Son of Morning.” Turns out “Son of Morning” was a nickname taken by many rulers in that time. Lucifer really got thrown under the bus by religion, ever since they adopted an admittedly well written fan fiction as canon, kind of like how they do with everything Star Wars.

    • MindofGod

      First of all, nothing in the bible regarding stories is true – they’re just allegories. Second, “satan” is Hebrew for adversary; draw your own conclusions on why Lucifer was named so. Mine is that the acceptance of “Lucifer” as a figurehead threatened Judaism.

      • Spuddie

        The Jewish and Islamic versions of Satan are not even prince of darkness types. They are just there to test one’s resolve. God’s pressure testers.

        My favorite version is the Faustian Mephistopheles. The one who doesn’t actually act, but just enables the worst elements in yourself (ex Ray Wise in Reaper)

  • Frank

    Here’s a question:

    Presumably, as it was Satan who tempted Eve, this Satan guy was around BEFORE the world was created, before the Universe. So where did this Satan guy “rebel from God” and face it as the Archangel Lucifer, that was a biggy, tell this God off?

    Obviously Heaven but then again, there’s no sin allowed in Heaven! I guess it’s okay to make up your theology as you go along

    • guest

      It really was made up as they went along, because the Jews saw Satan as one of god’s angels, doing his job as instructed by God. He was like God’s prosecuting counsel. It’s only later, after the book of Enoch was written, that he started becoming this ‘god of evil’. The snake in Genesis was originally just a talking snake and ‘Lucifer, son of the morning’ was probably some King who pissed off the Jews enough that they were pleased when he died.

    • MindofGod

      Christianity and Judaism describe different ways in which Lucifer opposes God; depends on which testament you read from.

      • Dan Weeks

        Modern Christianity maybe, but I doubt very much that Judaism deals with Lucifer. Lucifer was only equated with Satan in Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” a work of fiction based on biblical and pre-biblical figures, but not on the bible itself.

        If you disagree, then by all means find the passages in the bible that details Lucifer’s rebellion, the fall from Heaven, and his transformation into Satan, and post it here.

        You can take all the time you need.

    • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

      Satan told them the truth.

      17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:17 (NIV)

      The serpent pointed out that God was telling a lie.

      And how could they know the difference between good and evil without knowledge of good and evil?

      Catch 22 situation by a God who clearly never was exposed to the idea of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

      Maybe Satan is God’s conscience – just like Jiminy Cricket.

      Nah, then God might not have been such a fan of torture, slaughter, rape, slavery, et cetera.

      Satan appears to be a version of God with much less evil inside.

      .

      • Frank

        Yup

        More questions:

        How does one make someone with no knowledge of “right/wrong” or “good/evil” not follow their curiosity?

        How does an Omnipresent God “step out”?

        How does an Omniscient God not know “evil” was coming around?

        There’s much more, but those are great starts

        • Spuddie

          How does someone have no knowledge of right and wrong? Are they psychopaths unable to understand human feelings and experiences?

          • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

            According to the story, they had no knowledge of good and evil until they ate some apple.

            This is an obvious design flaw.

            God loves psychopaths.

            They don’t know what is right or wrong, but they know that if they obey, they will have their desires satisfied.

            God is their pimp master.

            .

          • Frank

            Okay, from the bible, it states clearly that the “Tree of Knowledge” is where Adam and Eve “learned”

            Until then they had no clue as they had no human companionship, save themselves

            Also, one does not need to be a “psychopath” to have curiosity. They were told, with no context, not to do something. Someone else told them they could. As they had no knowledge of who to obey, they did

            Face it, the god of Abraham is a sick and twisted POS

      • RJ (TO)

        Not to mention how god could effectively threaten them with death when death hadn’t been invented yet.

    • Dan Weeks

      Nothing about Satan’s supposed rebellion against God appears in the bible. The Serpent in the garden is just a serpent. A truth speaking, Tree of Knowledge dwelling serpent, but still just a serpent. There is no mention of it being a minion or possessed or a manifestation of Satan or Lucifer. All that bullshit was added in the 15th or 16th century.

      But to answer your question, I think Anne Rice’s “Memnoch, the Devil” is probably one of the better “accounts” of Satan’s fall from grace.

  • guest

    As far as I can tell, they’re atheists in fancy dress. Satan here seems to be filling a similar role to the flying spaghetti monster, Eris, or the pink unicorn.

    Honestly, I find it hard to take them seriously, but I hope their monument is at least cool-looking. Maybe it belches fire! And good luck to them.

    You have to admit that Satan is a powerful meme. The name has a potenty to it that things like ‘humanist’ or ‘rationalist’ just don’t. I would have a problem personally with affliating myself with Satan, because even though I’m an atheist I’m still pointlessly superstitious, which just shows how deep the conditioning goes.

    • MindofGod

      Nailed it on the head.

    • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

      I think the point is that “given the choice between the two,” “I’d take the sea sick crocodile!”

      Oops, I get carried away during Grinch Season.

      Given the choice between the clearly evil Biblical God and the much less evil Biblical Satan, the choice should be easy.

      God just has a much better publicist.

      They appear to be atheists with a truly skeptical approach to everything – I love that approach.

      .

      • Spuddie

        God may have the better publicist, but Satan has the better musicians and screenwriters.

    • Stephanie

      You’ve been watching too many Paranormal Activity movies.

  • Richard Thomas

    OH WOW…. Christmas comes early this year if this gets approval :) Good news from the religious circle for once!

  • Amy Marie

    I will donate money. Just had this argument with xtians. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Should this become a court case, and make it to The Supremes, remember that Scalia believes that Satan is real.

    • Richard Thomas

      In which case he has no choice but to approve this.

      • GubbaBumpkin

        Imagine Satan being charged with contempt for not showing up when subpoenaed.

  • LadyAvon

    From the description given of Satanism, it sounds the same as Humanism.

    • Steven

      It’s humanism that happened to read the Bible, and pick out Satan/Lucifer as the hero. I mean, he kills nobody (unlike God), he brings knowledge, and he rebels against the Man who’s oppressing his kind and all of humanity. Sounds like Humanism.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        Once I realized how much more moral of a being Lucifer/Satan comes off as in the Bible, I had to ask Christians if they were totally sure they were worshiping the right being there. About all that makes Lucifer/Satan evil is the fact that the Bible considers him so, but the Bible gives precious little indication of why. If I didn’t know in advance which the “good guy” and the “bad guy” was supposed to be, I sure wouldn’t guess it from just reading the Bible.

        • Art_Vandelay

          I thought it was for making that chick eat the apple?

          • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

            Yeah, but what’d he really do? He told her what would happen. That’s it. And he told her the truth. He didn’t force her to eat the apple, either; she, in her innocence, took it of her own volition and ate it. The myth doesn’t actually even explicitly say it was Satan, just “the serpent.”

            http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/gen/3.html

            • Art_Vandelay

              Yeah…and even if it was Satan, even as an allegory, that story stands for an emancipation more than a punishment.

              • cary_w

                Good point, Art, when you look at the story of Adam and Eve as a folk tale rather than a Bible story it really takes on a new meaning. To me it’s always seemed like a metaphor for the point in human evolution that we became intelligent, thinking, beings and not just ordinary animals. Eve gained knowledge and shared it with Adam. What they lost was the false paradise of living in ignorance, what they gained was the ability to understand and explore their world, with all it’s good AND evil. The world isn’t always a happy place, but I would rather have knowledge than live in blissful ignorance, so to me, the snake (and therefore Satan, if the snake represents Satan) is the hero, he is responsible for mankind becoming intelligent. So if I actually believed God and Satan existed, I would choose Satan’s side and join the Satanic Temple, but, of course, I don’t believe either exist and consider the Bible a collection of folk tales, and as with most folk tales, I don’t believe they were ever meant to be taken literally.

                • Neko

                  Yes. It’s an allegory of the dawn of human, and sexual, consciousness, and the loss of innocence.

            • Little_Magpie

              exactly. God lied to them… the serpent told the truth. And the serpent is the bad guy in this situation? (so much facepalm).

              Also, God… if you don’t want your humans to have knowledge of good and evil, just don’t create the damn tree and dangle it in front of them in the first place! What a dick.

              • The Other Weirdo

                Lies. Truth. If there is one thing we’ve learnt from Star Wars it’s that if you have superpowers, lies and truth are merely points of view.

            • Finn Nicolas

              Also, getting Eve to eat the fruit of the tree is the moral thing to do as it was from the tree of knowledge. Eating the apple gave human beings the ability to think, reason and tell right from wrong. If the apple had not been eaten, humanity would have been just unthinking slaves to God’s will. Anyone who reads The Bible, chooses to believe it and then says that Yahweh is the good guy is like someone who watches Star Wars and really roots for the Sith.

              • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

                Christians like to say that their god is their “father,” but if so, I would be hard-pressed to see him as a good one. Most parents want their children to learn the difference between right and wrong. Teaching children these lessons is a big part of raising kids, isn’t it? I mean, I don’t have kids, never wanted ‘em, but isn’t that what parents do?

                A human who doesn’t know right from wrong is little more than an animal, a pet, if even that. The god of the Garden wanted to keep his pet humans ignorant and when they stopped being ignorant, he saddled them with a curse that has killed very likely billions of people if you take the myth seriously. That is repellent to me. Eve made only an innocent mistake. She did not know she was doing wrong, because her god had quite literally kept her from knowing right from wrong. But she was still responsible for her “sin.” Ick.

                • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

                  Captain Cassidy,

                  Many Christians raise their children to just do as they are told without understanding the reason.

                  Look at the way they handle education about sex. “You’ll learn about it when you’re married.”

                  .

            • https://www.facebook.com/ThePaganNaturalist Nicole Youngman

              Thanks for the link CC, great stuff!!

      • Dan Weeks

        Neither Satan nor Lucifer are really mentioned in any kind of detail in the bible. Wherever they’re getting their mythology, it’s not from there. Most likely it’s from Milton’s fanfic.

  • A3Kr0n

    It sounds downright pleasant, but it sounds like they want their religion in government just like the Christians. I like the bull symbol better than the dead guy nailed to the letter “t” though. They sound like atheists with a little more added to it. I know, like A+

    • atom the atheist

      Kinda like, overly aggressive atheists…..

      • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

        I don’t believe in overly aggressive atheists. ;-)

        • The Other Weirdo

          That’s okay. They believe in you. :)

          • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

            The Other Weirdo,

            That comment is Satanic.

            ;-)

    • Mario Strada

      The next time a Christian accuses me to be a “Devil Worshipper” I’ll politely disagree and tell them “Well, I am not a Devil Worshipper, but let me introduce you to my friends here…”

  • The Captain

    “I won’t pretend that I understand the group’s philosophy” If you get some time Hemant, you should look into it. It’s actually kinda a neat topic.

    I admittedly do not know too much about it, but from what I’ve seen there are several types of “satanist” but everyone pretty much just associates all of them as the worshiping of satan verity.

    These guys sound more though like the Anton LaVey verity. It’s called “satanism” but it’s really more of a living critique of christian morality and culture. As he said “We reject supernaturalism”, this is the version of “satanism” that is pretty much atheist who are living a from of religious theater. You can think of them more as religious pranksters, or rabble rousers. I’ve actually always kinda like this bunch even if I don’t fully get it.

    Now the other types, the ones most people associate with “satanism” do also defiantly exist too. The ones that actually are worshiping a deity called “satan”. Or are trying to practice “black magic” and believe in the supernatural. But those people are idiots.

    • lmern

      I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said. I would love to see Hemant delve further into this topic. We could even form an alliance! Christians already think Atheists are Devil worshippers anyway! ;)

    • Amor DeCosmos

      I was reading this thread to see who else would explain this kind of Satanism the same way I understand it. I like your explanation.

      I think the number of Satanists through history who have believed in a supernatural being named Satan are pretty small compared to the number of people who see the character of Satan as an allegorical rejection of Christianity.

      You say, “religious pranksters”, I was going to say, “anti-religious performance artists”. Same same. I really, really dig these guys and their pranks and performances. I think I’ll check them out and follow them on social media.

  • Pluto Animus

    It’s an ingenious (and disingenuous) idea.

    If they tried to donate an atheist monument, the courts could reject it for not having a “religious” point of view.

    By declaring their cause one of Satanism, they render that issue moot.

    • text-window

      You nailed it, Pluto (except that there’s nothing disingenuous about it). If you read Greaves’ commentary about the Pink Mass, he’s also hinted (or perhaps said outright; I don’t recall) that since LGBT rights are being denied on the basis of religious belief, he intends to use the Satanic Temple to fight in FAVOR of equality, on the basis of religious belief.

  • Brodestar

    As an atheist I applaud The Satanic Temple for doing their part in addressing religious equality when it comes to monuments on public land. To be honest I don’t know much about Satanism but I embrace any group religious or otherwise that works towards true equality in every facet of government.

  • Jade

    They have my support!

  • Neko

    Brilliant!

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    At least they’re not atheists.

    After all, Christians, such as Justice Scalia, do believe in Satan.
    ;-)

  • fi3ldmous3

    Ironic subversion. It’s kind of the thing I’ve been hoping Russian LGBTQs and their allies would pick up.

    Btw, Hemant, I really enjoy your blog. And congratulations to you and your new wife.

  • Sherralyn Caylor

    Oh this is good stuff. I would.love for main stream media to glom onto this one!

  • Jeff

    This guy is GREAT. Well thought out argument. I guess he is the perfect devil’s advocate?

  • Melissa Cartun

    They seem like a really nice, well-spoken, well-intentioned group actually…more so than many Christians I’ve met.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      Yeah, I don’t see how anybody reasonable could disagree with much of what the representative said here. I like that they’re using the term “Satanism” to provoke a reaction; it forces listeners to try to square their preconceptions of the term “Satanist” with how absolutely reasonable they sound. I like that forced dissonance.

      I knew a few Satanists in the small town in Kansas in which I lived; they were a lot like how this group presents itself–less about “hail Satan!” and more about rejecting social norms and trying to do the sort of things this group is doing.

      BTW: We all know that right now there are late-night meetings being arranged to figure out what the holy hell the OK Capitol is going to do about this development. That smell you’re all detecting right now? Flop sweat.

  • MineApostasy

    Satanists are the sassiest people I’ve ever known. I applaud them and wish them luck in their future endeavours.

    • SAPilgrim

      I feel this is relevant to your comment. (And because sassy is my favorite word.)

  • Gehennah

    I’m just curious on the “legal” reasoning that Oklahoma will have when they try to block this.
    While, personally, I’d rather not have any monuments at all (christian, atheist, other otherwise), this is a good test to see if they are actually going to the Constitution or not.

  • RJ (TO)

    I love this! A brilliant trap for the Religious Liberty™ whiners. There’s no way they can fight this without saying “No! It’s Religious Liberty for Christians only!”

  • Jean

    Wow, I just found out about them and I loved their philosophy! Looking them up right now! lol

    • lmern

      I did as well right after reading this post :) I contacted the admin of their Facebook page about donating for the Oklahoma monument, and was told that as soon as the monument gets approved, they will be opening a crowd funding project. It sounds like they already have some backers for the majority of the costs involved, but I am eager to offer some monetary assistance if and when it project is approved.

  • Mario Strada

    I love these guys. They are in a perfect position to challenge Christian privilege. They have much more latitude than we could ever have and their philosophy is not that different from ours from what I gather.

    I will be watching this closely.

  • TwoHornsExalted

    Someone should get hold of the High Priest of the Church of Satan, Magus Peter H. Gilmore, and see what he thinks of all this.I hear he had some stern words to say about that “pink mass” stunt. Regardless, if this interview and The Satanic Temple website are an accurate representation of what Satanism is about, then even though I find myself not entirely in agreement with every word out of Anton LaVey’s lips, i’d definitely have to describe myself as a Satanist. So…Hail Satan, I guess.

    • Spuddie

      “Anton Le Vey’s Church of Satan is the only religious group whose dogma includes the [false] assertion that it’s leader played a pivotal role in a Hollywood film*
      -Nicholas Shreck, The Satanic Screen

      *They claim he played the devil in the dream scenes in Rosemary’s Baby. It was played by stuntman Clay Tanner, not LeVey.

    • text-window

      It doesn’t even matter if you agree with Anton LaVey, since there is no “official” Satanism. Church of Satan is, for all intents, a defunct organization. During the fear-mongering moral hysteria of the 80s and 90s, when many people were falsely accused, maligned and imprisoned on charges of “Satanic abuse”, CoS did nothing, had nothing to say. The Satanic Temple, on the other hand, is an active organization dedicated to making positive changes and keeping church and state separate.

      You might do a few double-takes at first, but if you read closely, you’ll see that Greaves is, in fact, an atheist and skeptic whose goal is, among other things, to promote critical thinking and protect people (satanists and otherwise) from charlatanry.

      • LaneLizardFL

        ^^^exactly^^^ Greaves is using their laws to show them how they can be used to slap them in the face. By showing them the folly of allowing religion (all religions)0 into their precious classroom, he’s letting them stub their toes, since they won’t just wear their shoes.

    • process

      Seriously, who gives a damn what “Magus” Peter Gilmore thinks? What has he done? He seems like another pompous ass flaunting an unearned and arbitrary authority, pretending he has a monopoly on the Satan brand while sitting back and collecting $200 a head on membership fees, and offering nothing in return. Of course he has stern words about The Satanic Temple — everything he has written reads like a product of cognitive dissonance, intellectualizing the Church of Satan’s do-nothingness. No, I don’t think anybody should be interested in what Gilmore says. He’s had over 20 years, and a majority of people don’t even seem to know that his organization still (allegedly) exists. Plus, a lot of CoS material still toys with embarrassing notions of ritual magic and veers toward the rhetoric of authoritarianism — two things The Satanic Temple is not afraid to fiercely reject outright, whatever transgressive appeal such things may have to a disaffected market. The CoS really does just seem to be an income stream for Gilmore. TST is actually taking a stand in the world.

      • TwoHornsExalted

        Not a CoS member so by no means should you quote me on any of this. I just thought it would be interesting to get his take as a well-known speaker on the subject since IIRC he’s widely considered the “official spokesperson” of (at least the LaVeyan form of) Satanism. They appear to represent divergent viewpoints/priorities, as you pointed out.

        • text-window

          With their long-standing silence, the CoS is, in my opinion, complicit in the false imprisonment of the West Memphis Three, the Kellers (recent news about the Kellers: http://bit.ly/1bjYJZQ ), and numerous others. They did absolutely nothing when so many people were being falsely accused of horrific”satanic” crimes. They’re even worse than Joe Paterno — they saw it all, there was no denying what was going on, and they still did nothing. Most people, including me, believed they were defunct. It takes some serious cajones for them to object to the Satanic Temple, after having been so silent during the height of the Satanic-Panic, when they could have actually done some good.

          No, I couldn’t care less what Peter Gilmore has to say. He has no claim to the term “Satanist”, and the CoS has long been irrelevant and useless as an organization.

          • TwoHornsExalted

            Just as well. I’m not that big into embracing Ayn Rand or Lex Talonis anyway, so i’m happy to keep my $200 and still call myself a Satanist regardless.

  • mavrick

    Oklahoma ..are you serious ..I would like to see that happen for sure . I am pretty sure that they will be and big uproar specially with Satanic

  • william hoke

    Both groups are off their fucking nut!!

  • Dan Weeks

    I find myself agreeing with a lot of these supposed Satanic tenets…probably because they sound like humanism. I just fail to see the value in insisting on a supernatural desert devil as the symbol of this otherwise naturalist, humanistic philosophy combined with a healthy dose of post-modern rhetoric. Perhaps they’re going more for shock value and attention-getting than they are any kind of original, substantial idea.

    Still, I agree that, thanks to the non-thinking faith-heads who fail at any kind of critical thinking or foresight, this group of Satanists should indeed take full advantage of the religious freedoms granted to them.

    • text-window

      “I just fail to see the value in insisting on a supernatural desert devil”

      Greaves has specified several times that they don’t believe in a literal devil, and one of their goals is to promote critical thinking. Note the following quotes:

      “We strive to reserve belief in only that which is demonstrably true,”

      “We reject supernaturalism and strive to approach all things with
      reasonable agnosticism. Charlatans, mystic snake-oil salespeople, cults,
      pseudoscientists, witch-hunting conspiracists, and the like all are
      correct to fear us. We will be merciless in our debunking and
      discrediting of their exploitative practices.”

      • Dan Weeks

        But, then why bother with the symbolism at all? Why not just be an organization of skeptics, or agnostics? I mean, the symbol of Satan is very specific to a particular religious background. I’d say it’s somewhat distracting from an otherwise reasonable, though somewhat wishy-washy philosophy.

        Just sayin’

        • text-window

          But Dan, you’re missing the point — they started off as (to quote Greaves) “an elaborate prank” to demonstrate the folly of state-led prayer in schools. Satanism was chosen because of its out-group status. There are already plenty of active skeptic groups, and those groups obviously aren’t religious in nature. Greaves’s group HAD to be religious in nature to accomplish its purpose.

          Greaves said: “[...] and we asserted that we are prepared to take full advantage of our religious liberties on behalf of an often ignored and marginalized demographic. [...] We are happy to indulge in whatever liberties are granted to religious organizations.”

          Skeptic and agnostic groups can do things, too, but Greaves specifically wants to utilize all the special privileges granted to *religious* groups. The difference is that he’ll be using that privilege for the betterment of humanity, as opposed to other religions who often use their privilege to impede human rights and human progress.

          • Dan Weeks

            “Still, I agree that, thanks to the non-thinking faith-heads who fail at any kind of critical thinking or foresight, this group of Satanists should indeed take full advantage of the religious freedoms granted to them.” -Dan Weeks

            No, I didn’t miss the point. Congratulations, you’ve earned yourself troll-status.

            • text-window

              “No, I didn’t miss the point.”

              But you asked “Why not just be an organization of skeptics, or agnostics?”

              And the answer to that is “because they needed to be a legally recognized religious group to accomplish their goal.”

              Sorry, but it’s apparent that you DID in fact miss that.

              • Dan Weeks

                No, you can be an organization of skeptics and agnostics without being a religion, or even religious. In fact, it’s pretty much standard practice in such organizations.

                But whatever, if the Satanic Temple wants to be a religion, then *poof* they’re a religion, subject to the same laws and protections of any other religion. That’s the point of them insisting on a monument in front of the OK state capital. They’re right to insist, and I said as much.

                And I must say, you’re right too. If anything proves an organization is religious, it’s the overreaction to even the slightest questioning of its doctrine and dogma, coupled with a baffling deficit in reading comprehension.

                • text-window

                  Dan: “No, you can be an organization of skeptics and agnostics without being a religion,”

                  Of course. What I was saying is that such an organization *can’t* (or at least wouldn’t want to) become a legally organized religious group. Hence, Greaves and his collaborators formed an actual religious group (and chose the one most maligned as an out-group) to make their point at the rally in Florida.

                  I don’t see why answering your question (notably: “Why not just be an organization of skeptics, or agnostics?”) is considered “trolling” or an “overreaction”, but to each his own, I guess.

                • text-window

                  Dan: ” If anything proves an organization is religious, it’s the overreaction to even the slightest questioning [...]”

                  Sorry Dan, but I’m not a Satanist. I’m just a boring atheist with no religious affiliation. I do think people are sometimes misunderstanding what this group is about, though, even those who are generally supportive, and I think the distinctions are worth pointing out.

                  (Obviously, I too support what they’re doing…)

      • Dan Weeks

        …pretty sure you didn’t include my whole quote. The word ‘symbol’ does in fact denote something other than literal. On top of that, nothing you posted refutes my point.

        Try to keep up.

        • text-window

          Dan, I absolutely included your whole quote as it was written.

          If you edited it for clarity, the edit wasn’t showing up when I copied and pasted. The lag is common with Disqus comments.

          • Dan Weeks

            “I just fail to see the value in insisting on a supernatural desert devil as the symbol of this otherwise naturalist, humanistic philosophy combined with a healthy dose of post-modern rhetoric.”

            That’s the whole quote. The only edits came from you.

            • text-window

              Sorry Dan, but you’re mistaken. There would be zero benefit for me in editing your quote.

              ETA — “editing” as in taking a word right out of the middle to alter the meaning, which seems to be what you’re accusing me of doing. I didn’t quote your whole paragraph, of course, but that hardly counts as editing to alter the meaning…

              • Dan Weeks

                Your quote of me:
                “I just fail to see the value in insisting on a supernatural desert devil”

                Now scroll up and read my full quote. The evidence is clear.

                We’re done here.

  • Dave The Sandman

    Gets my vote for many reasons – a smart and funny response with more than a sulfurous whiff of disrespect ;~)
    Best wishes to them, and I for one will happily stand side by side with my black clad brothers and sisters of The Temple.

  • Mick

    God botherers or Satan worshipers. Who’s the dopiest?

    • LaneLizardFL

      Get past the “satanist” label and listen to what he’s actually saying. It’s abvious that he’s an atheist and doesn’t actually believe in the devil.

  • LaneLizardFL

    From what I’ve heard over the past year or so this is actually a group of atheists using the hot button of satanism to attract attention to the issue of Christian exceptionalism in the USA. Satan isn’t an actual entity per se, the word satan means foe, or enemy. As a character in the bible, Satan represent freedom and liberty in contrast to god’s control and tyranny. In the garden story in Genesis this is clearly seen as Satan strives to enlighten Adam and Eve while the god character strives to keep them ignorant. In the story it’s not Satan who lies to them, it’s in fact god. As so often happens in Christianity, we’re told one thing while the bible actually states another.

    • Dan Weeks

      I understand the symbolism they’re going for, but I kinda wish they wouldn’t, if for no other reason than they’re incorrect in their biblical references.

      In the Old Testament, Satan is actually spelled with a lower case s: ‘satan.’ It does indeed mean ‘adversary,’ in keeping with the old Hebrew translation. But there is no such story in the bible about the revolution of angels against god or anything like that. That’s all fan fiction.

      Secondly, according to the bible, the Serpent in the Garden of Eden is just that, a serpent. There’s no mention of it being the devil in disguise or a minion of Satan or anything even close. The association of Satan with the serpent, again, came much later. (Yes, also fan fiction.)

      Now, obviously most people, including a majority of Christians, don’t really know these literary facts of the bible in regard to their mythology. It’s possible that the Satanic Temple, along with organizations like it, are indeed exploiting this ignorance to make a nice big splash. And symbolism is fun, I can’t deny that either. But, I don’t know, it seems a little hypocritical to insist on such religious symbolism and, in fact, legal status, and then argue against religion. Every sect of evangelical Christianity seems to use the same tactic: “Oh, organized religion is wrong. We’re about a personal relationship with god.”

      In this case, it’s “Religion is bullshit. They should fear our critical faculties and skepticism. And we demand full religious status, because Satan.”

      I don’t know, I suppose I’m more of a reductionist. Why not argue for secularism and humanism with reason and science, without the mythological smoke and mirrors?

  • Ibis3

    Satan, to us, is symbolic of our rejection of tyranny, and we bow to no God or gods.

    For those confused, think Satan from Paradise Lost.

  • missjamille

    Satanists are like the metaphysical version of pastafarians. When Anton Lavey started writing books and started his church of satan, it was mostly out of spite and satire. But then it forged into something a bit different, though still very sardonic, many of them like ritual and though usually it is more realistic than a skydaddy who put his seed in a virgin and then was born on earth and then convinced people to kill him so he could save humanity…..it is still a bit wacky and some of it is based on human indulgence. Most satanists I know are often a bit cynical but over all smart and nice.
    I am actually surprised this doesn’t happen more often as they are notorious for challenging the status quo, I mean that is pretty much what Lavey had in mind when he started his church.

  • onamission5

    Brilliant! I have been hoping something like this would come along for some time now, and I wish their efforts the best.

  • JH

    I am so ok with this. While were at it we could encourage the fsm people to apply for a monument as well! Sooner or lager someone gets the idea in the receiving end!

  • Ken F.

    Honestly this could be a great boon to just non- religious groups in general. If there is a “good” and “evil” representation to moderate theistic people then they may be able to ultimately see a middle non- theistic ground. Or that’s my hypothesis anyway, I guess we will see what happens.

  • Dan Weeks

    Well, I thank you for identifying precisely where the Satanic Temple and I part ways. They seem to argue for secularism and humanism, but still believe religion is somehow important and must be preserved especially for the naturalists and agnostics. I guess I simply don’t share that belief. I just don’t put that much stock in metaphorical narratives, at least not enough to make it a religious devotion.

    But hey, to each their own. Again, they’re right to insist on a monument in the public square, since the legislators of the great state of OK decided that the wall should come down. It’s really no different than what Humanist, Atheist, and Secular groups have been doing in the past few years, except that these groups don’t call themselves a religion.

  • Grumpy

    As soon as I read the name “Lucien Greaves,” I thought, “No WAY. That’s a 100% made-up name.” Sure enough, “Lucien” is actually “Doug.” Apparently, one tenet of Satanism that most people miss is “Thou shalt also take up a phony name of the kind that South Park would use to make a joke about Satanists.”

    • https://twitter.com/atheist_in_nc Heisenberg

      My thought was, “How do you publicly identify with Satanism and still function in society?” Any employer, Christian or not, that knew you were a Satanist would circular-file your resume without consideration.

    • The Broker

      Well, after you’ve fully considered the names maybe you’ll read the title of this piece and then possibly move on to the transcript itself. Don’t feel obligated to update with your each and every “insight” along the way though.

  • https://twitter.com/atheist_in_nc Heisenberg

    Polyester is the devil’s fabric.

  • https://twitter.com/atheist_in_nc Heisenberg

    My hope is that this would cause the government to take a step back and say, “You know what? We really shouldn’t have ANY religious monuments on government property!”

  • Ted

    They should be sure to study the case of Van Orden v. Perry and be prepared to deal with those issues when they get turned down and have to sue.

    • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

      Ted,

      What part of the existing Ten Commandments monument is secular in the way that monument in Van Orden v. Perry was determined to be secular?

      I expect the Satanists to be able to come up with a religious, but mostly secular, monument.

      Justice Breyer provided the decisive votein Van Orden v. Perry, which did not agree with the analysis of the plurality in this case. He also joined in the deciding opinion for removing the monument in McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky.

      http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-1500.ZC2.html

      http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-1693.ZO.html

      .

  • joe di lellio

    If I didn’t know better (I know there are substantial differences), I’d say they’re earlier versions of Pastafarians. Lighter on the satire, but no less legit or serious than them – or the Xtians. R’Amen!

  • Crazi

    I’m actually interested in seeing an even more plausible religious organization challenge this law, like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints asking for a monument in their name (they tend to get the non-offensive thing, so they probably would choose a likable topic–the important thing for them is it would be stamped with the Mormon seal of approval). Or how about the Church of Scientology? Would love to see various Christian denominations get in on the act, too–especially the Catholic Church and other groups that see themselves as the only way to heaven.

  • William Kitchen

    The Muslins and Satinists are in cahoots to unravel the fabric of society with their sari law. Give ‘em a stich and they’ll take a yard.

  • Frank H

    This is great, I am going to be following this very closely.

    This is a win/win situation

    if rejected the ACLU will get their point proven that this about pushing Christianity and nothing to do with freedom of religion.

    If approved, we can all smile and say “We told you so”

    I can think of a few times where trying this might have made things easier when proving a point of why we have separation of church and state.

  • GeorgiaPeach23

    Satanism sounds a lot closer to my system of ethics than the church I was raised in.

    • audreydc1983

      I know, right?! I know a Satanist, and she’s one of the nicest people I know. Go figure.


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