May 29, 2019

Citing religious liberty, The Satanic Temple declares that its members are exempt from a recent Supreme Court ruling upholding an Indiana law requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains.

The Hill reports:

The Satanic Temple said it would challenge a Supreme Court ruling from Tuesday that upheld part of an Indiana law requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains.

The group is citing religious freedom in declaring immunity from the law…

The Arkansas Times reports:

The Satanic Temple, the group seeking to put a statute of Baphomet at the Arkansas Capitol, has announced its intention to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court ruling yesterday that upheld an Indiana law requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains.

The Satanic Temple announced their declaration of immunity and plans to challenge the recent Supreme Court decision via Twitter:

The Satanic Temple (TST), an international religious organization headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, has declared immunity for its members from the Indiana Law (HEA 1337) requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains that was allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court. One of The Satanic Temple’s fundamental tenets is the inviolability of one’s body. Members of The Satanic Temple believe that non-viable fetal tissue is part of the woman who carries it, and as such, state impositions of ceremonial requirements dictating its disposal, barring any plausible medical or sanitary concerns, is a violation of TST’s Free Exercise allowing Satanists to contextualize the termination of a pregnancy on their own terms, with deference to their own religious beliefs. As such, TST affirms that this rule violates their religious beliefs and asserts that their members may refuse to adhere.

TST spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, explains: “Although the Supreme Court affirmed the right of states to have an interest in the disposal of fetal remains, their ruling allows for objections to the Indiana Law based on undue burden. This law clearly places an undue burden on the religious practices of The Satanic Temple by interfering with burial rites. These traditions have existed since the birth of organized religion. Rejecting our claim would profoundly undermine a basic cornerstone of religious organizations. It would be profoundly hypocritical for any Church that advocates for religious rights not to support our claim.”

The Indiana House Enrolled Act No. 1337 forbids hospitals, abortion clinics, and other healthcare facilities from disposing of fetal remains in sanitary landfills and instead allowing only cremation or burial. Because this mandate impacts burial rites, which are a well-established component of religious practice, TST insists that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the law cannot apply to their members, as the law violates TST’s tenet of bodily autonomy. RFRA, a federal law enacted in 1993 designed to protect religious freedom, requires that when a religious practice conflicts with laws of the State, the State must provide a compelling reason for why religious rights should not be honored.

“To be clear, members of The Satanic Temple will not be made to pay for these punitive, superfluous, and insulting burials. We claim exemption on religious liberty grounds, and we will almost certainly prevail in the courts if we are forced to fight. It’s time that petty sanctimonious panderers like Vice President Pence, who signed this law as governor, come to realize that religious liberty means freedom from unreasonable government imposition upon religious opinion and practice — not his own ‘freedom’ to impose a particular religiously-dictated practice upon the electorate whom he serves,” said Greaves.

The Satanic Temple is a nontheistic religious and political activist group based in Salem, Massachusetts. The Temple is recognized as a church for the purposes of tax exemption, with chapters in 13 states and Canada.

For the record, the Satanic Temple does not promote the worship of Satan, or any other imaginary deity. Instead, the group utilizes satanic imagery to promote egalitarianism, social justice, and the separation of church and state.

The Satanic Temple is a faith community that describes itself as facilitating “the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty.”

Previously the Satanic Temple made headlines after offering to escort Muslims who were afraid to leave their homes out of fear of a growing anti-Muslim backlash resulting from the Paris terrorist attacks.

In addition, the Satanic Temple has been on the front lines in defending a woman’s right to an abortion and promoting the separation of church and state guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Also, it is worthwhile to note that when it comes to morality, the Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets are morally superior to the Bible’s Ten Commandments.

Bottom line: Citing religious liberty, The Satanic Temple declares that its members are exempt from a recent Supreme Court ruling upholding an Indiana law requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains.

Satanic Temple Claims Exemption From Supreme Court Ruling On Fetal Remains (Image via Twitter)
Satanic Temple Claims Exemption From Supreme Court Ruling On Fetal Remains (Image via Twitter)
April 25, 2019

Good News: The Satanic Temple has won official recognition from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a tax-exempt church.

The Satanic Temple announced the news via Instagram:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

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A post shared by The Satanic Temple (@thesatanictemple) on

We are pleased to announce that for the first time in history, a satanic organization has been recognized by the United States federal government as being a church. The Satanic Temple recently received notice from the IRS affirming our status. This acknowledgement will help make sure the Satanic Temple has the same access to public spaces as other religious organizations, affirm our standing in court when battling religious discrimination and enable us to apply for faith-based government grants.

In a statement, Lucien Greaves, co-founder The Satanic Temple, explains why the group sought out tax-exempt status:

In light of theocratic assaults upon the Separation of Church and State in the legislative effort to establish a codified place of privilege for one religious viewpoint, we feel that accepting religious tax exemption — rather than renouncing in protest — can help us to better assert our claims to equal access and exemption while laying to rest any suspicion that we don’t meet the qualifications of a true religious organization. Satanism is here to stay.

The formal IRS recognition means that the Satanic Temple is now the only federally recognized international religious Satanic organization

For the record, the Satanic Temple does not promote the worship of Satan, or any other imaginary deity. Instead, the group utilizes satanic imagery to promote egalitarianism, social justice, and the separation of church and state.

The Satanic Temple is a faith community that describes itself as facilitating “the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty.”

Previously the Satanic Temple made headlines after offering to escort Muslims who were afraid to leave their homes out of fear of a growing anti-Muslim backlash resulting from the Paris terrorist attacks.

In addition, the Satanic Temple has been on the front lines in defending a woman’s right to an abortion and promoting the separation of church and state guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Also, it is worthwhile to note that when it comes to morality, the Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets are morally superior to the Bible’s Ten Commandments.

Bottom line: The IRS has officially recognized the Satanic Temple as a tax-exempt Church.

Satanic Temple Wins Official IRS Recognition As Tax-Exempt Church  (Image via Twitter)
Satanic Temple Wins Official IRS Recognition As Tax-Exempt Church (Image via Twitter)
July 30, 2018

The Satanic Temple will deliver a statue of Baphomet as part of a religious freedom rally protesting  a 10 Commandments monument at the Arkansas state capitol.

Arkansas Online reports:

The Satanic Temple says it will bring its 7½-foot bronze Baphomet statue to the state Capitol in Little Rock as part of a protest next month to defend religious freedom.

The rally, planned for Aug. 16, “is intended to bring together religious leaders of different faiths to discuss the importance of the First Amendment and its protection for religious pluralism,” the group said in a news release.

The Satanic Temple announced the protest on their Facebook page:

The Satanic Temple’s infamous Baphomet statue will make an appearance at the Arkansas state Capitol on August 16th from 1-3pm during “The Satanic Temple’s Rally for the First Amendment.” The rally is intended to bring together religious leaders of different faiths to discuss the importance of the First Amendment and its protection for religious pluralism as being essential to preserve democracy.

A statement from The Satanic Temple’s spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, reads in part:

We are taking our Baphomet monument to the Arkansas state capitol next month. On August 16th, we will show the theocratic politicians that we won’t silently stand by as they undermine our fundamental constitutionally enshrined liberties — the liberty to follow our consciences, the liberty to forge our deeply-held beliefs, and the liberty to express our beliefs or disbelief, while afforded an equal voice, without government coercion or intervention. The Arkansas government is actively subverting this bedrock principle of liberal democracy and it is our duty to rise to the challenge.

The Arkansas government has erected a 10 Commandments monument on capitol grounds sponsored by an Evangelist minister in the State Senate who has been allowed to abuse his public office to favor his religious viewpoint in a public forum to the exclusion of other voices. To rectify the unconstitutional appearance of official favoritism for one religion, and to establish a respect for pluralism and religious freedom, we, The Satanic Temple, offered our Baphomet monument to stand alongside the 10 Commandments. The Arkansas government refused our request.

In addition to litigating against this blatant viewpoint discrimination, we’re taking Baphomet to the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock and will be there at 1pm. We need your support…

Greaves explains:

This isn’t a rally of secularists versus people of faith, Satanists versus Christians, or outsiders versus Arkansas. This is a rally for all people who hold sacred the founding Constitutional principles of Religious Freedom and Free Expression that have fallen under assault by irresponsible politicians like Senator Rapert. We welcome people of all backgrounds and religious beliefs to stand with us.

Bottom line: The Satanic Temple is challenging Christian extremists in Arkansas who reject the separation of church and state and the secular values upon which this nation was founded. 

Satanic Temple Sends Baphomet To Rally Against Ten Commandments Monument (Image via Twitter)
Satanic Temple Sends Baphomet To Rally Against Ten Commandments Monument (Image via Twitter)
January 24, 2018

Good news: Ultrasounds are no longer required to obtain an abortion in Missouri after The Satanic Temple challenges the state’s restrictive abortion laws.

The Satanic Temple has been fighting a quiet battle in Missouri to protect a woman’s right to choose an abortion, claiming that any restriction on abortion violates their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Earlier this week, The Satanic Temple argued their case in front of the Missouri Supreme Court, and in so doing won a significant victory, even though the case has yet to be decided.

The victory: During oral arguments, Missouri’s Solicitor General announced to the State’s Supreme Court that ultrasounds are not mandatory to obtain an abortion.

Currently Missouri’s abortion providers regularly perform ultrasounds on all women seeking an abortion because they were mandated by the state. This admission by Missouri’s Solicitor General reverses that policy, and will relieve many women from the burden of going through a medically unnecessary and demeaning medical procedure.

A press release from the Satanic Temple explains:

John Sauer, Missouri’s Solicitor General announced to the State’s Supreme Court that ultrasounds are not mandatory to obtain an abortion. This information no doubt comes as a surprise to Missouri’s abortion providers who regularly perform ultrasounds they have perceived as mandated by the State. The issue arose during oral arguments in The Satanic Temple’s (TST) lawsuit, which asserts that State interference with the ability for a member of TST … to terminate her pregnancy violates her rights under Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) because that interference has no medical or other compelling purpose….

… In an audio recording of the arguments published by the court, Justices of the court asked the State’s representative if, “it’s the position of the State that an ultrasound does not have to be conducted unless a person says they want the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.” (13:16) Mr. Sauer affirms that the State’s interpretation of statute (MO Rev Stat § 188.027) is that women only be offered the “opportunity,” to have an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat, and if a woman declines hearing the audio, the ultrasound need not be performed and the requirement has been satisfied (15:20).

A recording of the full oral arguments is now available online.

Commenting on the new development, Jex Blackmore, a spokeswoman for The Satanic Temple, said:

The State’s interpretation of the law will allow women in Missouri seeking an abortion to do so with a level of dignity not currently available to them. Women will no longer be forced to decide whether or not they want to listen to the fetal heartbeat while naked, with their feet in stirrups, and a transvaginal ultrasound wand inside of them.

 

Bottom line: By turning the religious freedom argument against conservative Christians, The Satanic Temple is successfully defending a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion in Missouri.

(H/T Religion Clause)

Satanic Temple Wins Abortion Victory In Missouri (Image via Facebook)
Satanic Temple Wins Abortion Victory In Missouri (Image via Facebook)
September 13, 2017

The Satanic Temple claims abortion restrictions in Missouri violates the “sincerely held religious beliefs” of their members.

Turnabout is fair play: A Missouri Satanist is challenging the state’s mandatory 72-hour waiting period for an abortion by claiming the restriction violates her sincerely held religious beliefs.

In a detailed post for Medium, Jex Blackmore, National spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, explains:

For over two years, The Satanic Temple (TST) has pursued a lawsuit against the Governor and Attorney General of Missouri, alleging that the State’s mandated “informed consent” materials, ultrasound, and 72-hour waiting period violated a member of The Satanic Temple’s First Amendment rights.

Slate reports on the case:

On Monday, the Satanic Temple argued in a Missouri court that the state’s abortion restrictions violate worshippers’ rights to free religious practice. The organization is challenging two Missouri laws: one that requires patients to look at unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces them to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions. Satanic Temple members argue that their religion prizes rational, independent thought and that forcing Satanists to read anti-abortion pamphlets and “consider a religious proposition with which they do not agree” during the 72-hour waiting period constitutes a violation of their beliefs.

Think Progress gives background and context to The Satanic Temple’s efforts:

The Satanic Temple has turned its attention to abortion restrictions in recent years, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby found that closely held businesses that have religious objections to contraceptives should not be required to cover them on their employees’ insurance — effectively broadening religious liberty claims.

Since then, the Satanic Temple has been using religious liberty grounds to argue in favor of better access to reproductive care. In addition to going after informed consent laws and waiting periods in Missouri, the organization also issued a statement last year saying it would sue Texas for its new rules requiring aborted fetal tissue to be buried or cremated. It stated that its members were not required to comply with the law since burial rites were part of a religious practice and requiring a specific method goes against its religious freedom rights.

Damien Ba’al, the head of the Satanic Temple’s St. Louis chapter, explains the roadblocks Mary, a member of The Satanic Temple, faced in trying to exercise her right to reproductive health care in Missouri:

… Mary was seeking abortion services, but Missouri law has placed many roadblocks in her path that threaten to deny her right to bodily autonomy.

The roadblocks I speak of are regulations that forced the closure of abortion-providing clinics in Missouri. Planned Parenthood of St. Louis is currently the only abortion provider in the state. Not only does Mary live hundreds of miles away, but there is also a dehumanizing 72 hour waiting period between her initial appointment and the procedure itself. This means that Mary must either find lodging or make the trip twice. She doesn’t have the means to do this.

I wasn’t going to stand by and let Mary’s rights be denied by the state. Myself and the rest of the St. Louis chapter of The Satanic Temple will be helping her circumvent these obstacles so that she is able to make her own decisions about her body and her medical well-being. Also according to our tenets, one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone. So we are also protecting her sincerely held religious beliefs.

The Satanic Temple contends that Missouri’s abortion laws violate the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from endorsing a particular religious belief. In addition, the Satanists argue that Missouri’s abortion regulations promote the religious belief “that human tissue is, from conception, a separate and unique human being whose destruction is morally wrong.”

Also, the Satanists claim Missouri’s “informed consent” counseling and waiting period are not medically necessary to make an informed decision on an abortion.

In a statement, The Satanic Temple’s Lucien Greaves said:

The question of when life begins is absolutely a religious opinion, and the state has no business proselytizing religious beliefs. Women of The Satanic Temple, deciding to terminate a pregnancy, and informed in their decision to do so by their adherence to Satanic tenets, are having their religious freedoms violated when subjected to state-mandated ‘informed consent’ propaganda.

Oral arguments at The Missouri State Court Western Appellate District were held on Monday, September 11; while The United State Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit will hear oral arguments on Wednesday, September 20.

Bottom line: By turning the religious freedom argument against conservative Christians, The Satanic Temple defends a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion in Missouri.

The Satanic Temple Fights For Abortion Rights In Missouri (Image via YouTube)
The Satanic Temple Fights For Abortion Rights In Missouri (Image via YouTube)
December 13, 2016

Standing up for women, the Satanic Temple fights Ohio’s fetal heartbeat bill, which would effectively ban abortion if signed into law.

Once again the Satanic Temple challenges Christian extremists determined to rob women of their right to bodily autonomy and safe, legal abortion services.

Earlier this month Ohio lawmakers passed a controversial “Heartbeat Bill” that would ban abortions in that state from the moment the heartbeat of a fetus can be detected — which usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy.

In essence, the bill would effectively ban all abortion in the state of Ohio, without exception for rape or incest. If signed into law by Gov. John Kasich, physicians could face a year in prison if they perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected or if they fail to check for one before a procedure.

In a press release, the Satanic Temple claims Ohio’s Fetal Heartbeat Bill is a violation of their religious liberties, and declares members of the Temple exempt from the draconian legislation if it is signed into law:

Last week, both houses of the Ohio Legislature passed a controversial “Fetal Heartbeat Bill” that would ban abortion, without exception for rape and incest, 6 weeks into pregnancy — often before many women even know that they are pregnant. The Satanic Temple (TST), a non-theistic religious community widely recognized for challenging attacks against Church/State separation, is already claiming exemption from the Bill should it be signed into law by Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves explains:

To us, the heartbeat is irrelevant to the claim of personhood. We do not advocate for a belief in the soul, therefore we feel that complex cerebral functions necessary for perception are what makes a person a person. The non-viable fetus (a fetus that cannot survive outside the woman’s body) is, we feel, a part of the woman’s own body, and it is her choice whether or not she continues the pregnancy.

Greaves added:

Our tenets assert bodily autonomy and uphold Science as the arbiter of claims over what is true, to which we give deference in our decisions. As the Ohio Bill is imposed for no medical purpose and presents no compelling state interest, it is simply a violation of our free exercise, we will fight back against it, and we will very likely prevail.

(For the record, the Satanic Temple does not promote the worship of Satan, or any other imaginary deity. Instead, the group utilizes satanic imagery to promote egalitarianism, social justice, and the separation of church and state.)

The Satanic Temple is not alone in opposing Ohio’s odious anti-abortion bill. In fact, most abortion rights advocates note the Ohio fetal heartbeat measure is the most extreme abortion restriction in the country because the legislation would effectively ban the procedure before most women even realize they’re pregnant.

Bottom line: Once again the Satanic Temple deserves credit for fighting back against dangerous Christian extremists who wish to deny women their constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion.

(Image via The Satanic Temple)
(Image via The Satanic Temple)
December 3, 2016

Satanic Temple fights back after Christian extremists mandate funeral services for fetuses.

The Satanic Temple says new rule in Texas mandating fetal remains be cremated or buried violates their religious freedom.

In a move meant to penalize and stigmatize women and abortion providers, Texas approved new rules requiring health care facilities that perform abortions to bury or cremate fetal remains instead of disposing of them in a sanitary landfill like other forms of biological medical waste.

The new rules requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains will take effect Dec. 19, according to state health officials.

In response to the new mandate, The Satanic Temple is claiming immunity from any rules requiring funeral services for fetuses.

Jezebel reports:

… the Satanic Temple sees the whole thing for what it is: a naked bid to elevate fetal tissue to the status of a human being. In a press release, Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves called the new rules, which go into effect December 19, “a direct violation” of the group’s religious beliefs.

In a statement the Satanic Temple declared the new rules violate their religious beliefs:

The Satanic Temple (TST), an international religious organization headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, has declared immunity for its members from the Texas rule requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains that is slated to go into effect on December 19th. One of The Satanic Temple’s fundamental tenets is the inviolability of one’s body. As such, TST affirms that this rule violates their religious beliefs and their members may refuse to adhere.

On their website the group notes:

The Satanic Temple believes burial rites are a well-established component of religious practice. This is undisputed in the entirety of US legal history. In addition, members of The Satanic Temple believe in the inviolability of the body and, as such, these rules contradict our fundamental beliefs. The First Amendment protects our right to practice our beliefs, and under the Religious Freedom Reform Act (RFRA), the State must present a compelling reason for why they want to enforce rules that inhibit adherence to our religious practices. Clearly, the State of Texas has no compelling reason because these rules were not enacted to promote health and safety, but rather to harass and burden women who terminate their pregnancies.

For these reasons, members of The Satanic Temple are not required to comply with the Texas rule on fetal remains. Nevertheless, we will require legal support to protect the rights of our members.

In other words, if Texas tries to impose the new rule on a member of their organization, the Satanic Temple will sue.

For the record, the Satanic Temple does not promote the worship of Satan, or any other imaginary deity. Instead, the group utilizes satanic imagery to promote egalitarianism, social justice, and the separation of church and state.

Bottom Line

The new rules in Texas represent the desires of despicable religious extremist to punish women who have abortions and their abortion providers. The rules have nothing to do with public safety. They are instead yet another attempt by religious conservatives to shame and humiliate women seeking an abortion, while punishing abortion providers with onerous and unnecessary rules and restrictions.  

As such, the Satanic Temple deserves credit for fighting back against obnoxious Christian extremists in Texas who wish to penalize and stigmatize women and abortion providers.

Baphomet Statue (Image via Satanic Temple)
Baphomet Statue (Image via Satanic Temple)
April 26, 2016

In a bizarre bit of guerrilla theater The Satanic Temple crashes an anti-abortion rally to expose the hypocrisy of “fetal idolatry.”

Protesting “the perpetuation of fictional, coercive propaganda against Planned Parenthood,” the Satanic Temple of Detroit staged a wild counter-protest last weekend, complete with  bondage fetish wear, baby masks, diapers, and group flagellation.

Jex Blackmore, national spokesperson for The Satanic Temple and Director of The Satanic Temple of Detroit, explains:

The action was intended to expose fetal idolatry and the perpetuation of fictional, coercive propaganda against the reproductive health organization. The Satanic Temple (TST) believes that the anti-choice movement’s obsession with, and mischaracterization of the fetus obscures medical reality and a woman’s constitutional right to choice. Enlarged images of fetuses which are no larger than an inch and the personalization of mindless, senseless human embryos elevates the fetus to the status of a demigod.

… The strategy of elevating tiny human em­br­yos and fetuses to a rever­ence creates a fantasy in which the maternal body is both erased and criminalized.

This is not the first time the Satanic Temple has engaged in guerrilla theater to counter-protest anti-abortion protesters. Last August The Satanic Temple of Detroit disrupted a national day of protest against Planned Parenthood by deploying a radical political theater to illustrate the theocratic agenda anti-abortion protesters want to impose upon female bodies.

At that protest members held an American flag emblazoned with The Satanic Temple’s logo, along with a sign reading:

America is not a theocracy. End forced motherhood!

It is important to note that The Satanic Temple  does not worship a literal Satan, or even believe in Satan’s existence; instead, the group is dedicated to upholding the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom for all, while opposing the theocratic impulse of anti-abortion Christian conservatives.

Bottom line: The Satanic Temple deserves credit for naming the fetish of the fetus that animates the anti-abortion crowd, and pushing back against the false and coercive propaganda deployed against Planned Parenthood by conservative Christians.

Watch The Satanic Temple crash the anti-abortion protest –

(Image via Screen Grab)
(Image via Screen Grab)
February 5, 2016

Secular Victory: The Phoenix City Council has banned prayer at their public meetings rather than allow the Satanic Temple a chance to offer their own prayer.

The Phoenix City Council has been desperately trying to prevent members of the Satanic Temple from delivering the public invocation at a council meeting scheduled for later this month, and earlier this week council members arrived at a wonderful solution: Banning prayer altogether.

In a 5-4 vote, council members decided meetings will no longer begin with a traditional prayer, but instead open with a moment of silence.

AZ Central reports the decision sparked protests from some residents and city leaders, who said having a moment of silence is the same as banning prayer, and gives the Satanists a victory. Of course, others celebrated the decision, for the same reasons.

Speaking in favor of prayer at the contentious city council meeting, Pastor Darlene Vasquez, who began to cry at the microphone, said:

I am not for the silent prayer. I want those who believe in the one true God to pray. It breaks my heart to hear what is going on.

While Councilman Sal DiCiccio warned that creating a moment of silence gave the Satanists a “big win,” claiming that the group’s ultimate goal has always been to ban prayer at council meetings entirely:

This is what that Satanist group wants. A moment of silence is basically a banning of prayer. It’s to agree to the Satanic goal to ban prayer.”

DiCiccio said the religious community would collect signatures to put the issue on the ballot and try to overturn the council’s decision substituting a moment of silence for public prayers.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and four members of the council voted in favor of the prayer ban, arguing that an effort to silence a particular group like the Satanic Temple  could land the city in an expensive legal battle that the city would lose.

Mayor Stanton said:

The First Amendment to the Constitution is not ambiguous on this issue. Discriminating against faiths would violate the oath that all of us on this dais took. I personally take that very, very seriously.

Mayor Stanton is correct. The First Amendment is not ambiguous, and any attempt made by the city to favor one religion over another is strictly forbidden.

If the Phoenix City Council allows Christians to offer public prayers and invocations at public meetings, they must be willing to allow all other religious views the same opportunity, even the Satanic Temple.

Bottom line: Public prayer, Satanic or otherwise, has no place in government meetings, and banning prayer at public meetings is a victory for secular Americans not only in Phoenix, but across the nation.

 

Baphomet Statue (Image via Satanic Temple)
Baphomet Statue (Image via Satanic Temple)

 
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January 22, 2016

When it comes to morality, the Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets are morally superior to the Bible’s Ten Commandments.

Based in Massachusetts, and with approximately 20 chapters across the U.S., The Satanic Temple’s seven fundamental tenets are as follows:

  • Strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.

  • The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.

  • One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.

  • The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.

  • Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.

  • People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.

  • Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Now compare the Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets with the Bible’s Ten Commandments (King James Version):

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

  5. Honour thy father and thy mother.

  6. Thou shalt not kill.

  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

  8. Thou shalt not steal.

  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s.

Note the first four of the Ten Commandments have nothing to do with human morality, and are instead all about how to worship God. Note also that those commandments that do have contact with human morality are for the most part all negative: “Thou shalt not…”

Compared to the Ten Commandments list of bad behaviors to be avoided, the Satanists offer a more moral, and more optimistic stance, emphasizing positive, pro social values. Writing at Salon, Valerie Tarico explains the superiority of the Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets when compared to the Bible’s Ten Commandments:

Anyone who is familiar with the Ten Commandments will immediately recognize that these seven tenets offer an easier path to equanimity than do the famous Ten. The first of the Ten Commandments—Thou shalt have no other gods before me—asserts the primacy of a single deity rather than the primacy of compassion and empathy. It prescribes competition between religious worldviews, the very antagonism expressed by Christian students in Bremerton and Christian callers from across the country.

More broadly, the seven tenets emphasize positive, pro-social values rather than bad behaviors to be avoided. They largely express egalitarian values that transcend tribal boundaries, in contrast to the Ten Commandments, which endorse the view that women, slaves and livestock are possessions of men. They invite inquiry rather than certitude and individuality over tribalism.

The Satanic Temple is a faith community that describes itself as facilitating “the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty.”

Recently the Satanic Temple made headlines after offering to escort Muslims who were afraid to leave their homes out of fear of a growing anti-Muslim backlash resulting from the last year’s Paris terrorist attacks.

In addition, the Satanic Temple has been on the front lines in defending a woman’s right to an abortion and promoting the separation of church and state guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Bottom line: When it comes to morality, the Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets are morally superior to the Bible’s Ten Commandments.

Baphomet Statue (Image via Satanic Temple)
Baphomet Statue (Image via Satanic Temple)
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