Satan Club Causes Major Controversy At School

An after-school Satanist club will start a new branch at an elementary school in Tennessee next year. The Satanic Temple will host the new club at the Chimneyrock Elementary School in Cordova from January 10 and has been posting flyers to advertise it. The flyers say the club does not intend to persuade children to adopt any belief system but to “emphasize a scientific, rationalistic, non-superstitious worldview.”

Memphis-Shelby County Schools issued a statement saying it will not obstruct the club and is committed to upholding the principles of the First Amendment that “guarantees equal access to all non-profit organizations seeking to use our facilities after school hours.” Superintendent Toni Williams, however, emphasized that she does not support the beliefs of the Satanist group, “but I do support the law.”

Satanic Temple clubs are popping up in schools across the United States and have enjoyed free speech victories in the courts. In June, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of the Temple when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Northampton County school district for not allowing the club to hold meetings in its facilities. The ACLU called the ruling “a victory for free speech.”

June Everett, campaign director of the After School Satan Club, said the organization presents an alternative to religious groups and is vital for agnostic or atheist pupils. “We have a lot of big plans for next school year,” she added.

On its website, After School Satan says it only opens branches in schools with religious clubs, so an alternative is available. “The After School Satan Club program focuses on science, critical thinking, creative arts, and good works for the community,” it claims.

Back in Tennessee, some have reacted with outrage and insist the Satanist meetings cannot be permitted to go ahead. Rev. Bill Adkins, a local pastor, said he believes in free speech but added that it does not allow him to pray in schools.