Stop Suggesting After School Satan Clubs are the Answer to the Good News Club

AfterSchoolSatanI’m sick of hearing this nonsense.  Whenever I write an article or post something on social media related to the abuses of the Good News Club, I get at least one commenter saying, “That school needs an After School Satan Club.”  To quote the current occupant of the White House, “WRONG.”

As a passionate opponent of the Good News Club, as well as the Executive Director of Young Skeptics, the first of its kind after-school club focused on developing critical thinking skills, I’ve followed the news of the Satanic Temple’s After School Satan Club closely.  Being fully aware of the resources and support on the side of Good News Club, I’ve always had my reservations about how successful the Satanic Temple would be in this arena.  Don’t get me wrong, I applaud their efforts with ASSC and the other battles they’ve taken on to protect church/state separation, and I fully support their goals, however lofty.  But as I stated when ASSC first launched, there’s no shot in hell (pun intended) that this effort will be successful in removing the Good News Club from elementary schools.  And so far it hasn’t helped to remove a single GNC.

So stop suggesting After School Satan Clubs are the answer to the Good News Club.

The Satanic Temple does not have the volunteers or resources to open ASSCs in all of the over 5,000 US public schools the Good News Club currently operates in, despite their stated unrealistic goal to do so.  In addition to that, their goal isn’t even to instill what their curriculum teaches — critical thinking and understanding of the natural world.  If advancing critical thinking were their goal, they’d be in favor of opening clubs in any school, not just schools with Good News Clubs.  From the ASSC website:

Please keep in mind that The Satanic Temple is not interested in operating After School Satan Clubs in school districts that are not already hosting the Good News Club.

That doesn’t show me that education is their top priority. It shows me that a political fight using children as pawns is. Their goal is to take on the Good News Club by taking advantage of the shock value the mention of “satan” in schools evokes, causing school districts to ban their entry, and subsequently the entry of Good News Clubs as a result.  And if that were to work, then bravo.  But it hasn’t, and it won’t.  For those who are unaware, the Good News Club is run by a well-funded, well-lawyered international organization called Child Evangelism Fellowship.  They’re not going anywhere, and they won a Supreme Court case in 2001 to make sure of that.  In the nine schools that currently have an After School Satan Club, all nine still have a Good News Club, and the Satanic Temple has not been successful in getting any school district to kick both clubs out, despite anti-ASSC protests and the media coverage that accompanied them.  The Satanic Temple’s strategy may have worked for religious monuments and in-school Bible distribution, but it’s not working here.

So stop suggesting After School Satan Clubs are the answer to the Good News Club.

Then what is?  That’s hard to say, but it’s likely a multi-faceted approach that includes, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Awareness campaigns focused on GNC’s abuses and fundamentalist teachings in order to lower GNC attendance
  • Lobbying schools to help them realize the GNC breaks school district conduct policies
  • Attending GNC sessions to monitor their abuses and send a message they’re being scrutinized
  • Opening alternative, less shocking and more benign critical thinking clubs like Young Skeptics
  • Monitoring school communications to ensure religious favoritism rules are being adhered to

These are all things that any of us can do to alter the impact that the Good News Club has in our communities.  So when you hear about the abuses of the Good News Club, get up and act.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it, like FFRF, AU, AA, or some other watchdog group.  Those groups will have limited legal standing, if any at all.  And for love of everything unholy and completely secular, stop suggesting After School Satan Clubs are the answer to the Good News Club.  

THEY are not the answer. YOU are.

 

 

About Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, and the author of Understanding an Atheist: A Practical Guide to Relating to Nonbelievers, a book aimed at improving relationships between the religious and their atheist loved ones. Kevin is also the Executive Director of Young Skeptics, an elementary-level after-school program for kids focused on critical thinking. Guest bloggers are welcome at SecularVoices. Please email submissions to contact@secularvoices.org.