Satanists demand inclusion in Florida's in-school chaplain program

"DeSantis fails to recognize that it is not the place of the government to confer unique rights to one religious identity while denying them to another."

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
The Satanic Temple has reached out to the state of Florida to offer their services as school chaplains under the state's new in-school chaplain program. Satanic Temple cofounder Lucien Greaves, who worked to establish the quasi-religious group during the George W. Bush administration in an attempt to take advantage of government funding for community religious groups, told The Hill that there's no reason the new program for kids should not be inclusive of Satanists.

"Nothing in the text of the bill serves to exclude us," he said, "and no credible interpretation of the First Amendment could. Should a school district now choose to have chaplains, they should expect Satanists to participate as well." The Satanic Temple has gone out of their way to make sure to take advantage of any resources offered to religious groups in educational settings. When schools have opened their doors to after school religious groups, the Satanic Temple has gone in and demanded access to create Satanist groups as well. In cases where schools or the community have balked, the Satanists have sued and gained access.

When he was asked about potential participation by Satanists, Governor Ron DeSantis proclaimed that it was not, in fact, a religion. "Listen—we're not playing those games in Florida. That is not a religion," he said. "We're gonna be using common sense. You don't have to worry about that." The legislation, he said, "clarifies" that schools are permitted to bring in chaplains to aid students. 

But Greaves said that DeSantis "openly lied to the public" in his comments that Satanists would not be permitted. He claimed that DeSantis was "either entirely ignorant of the most basic fundamentals of constitutional law, or too incompetent to care." He went on to say that "DeSantis fails to recognize that it is not the place of the government to confer unique rights to one religious identity while denying them to another." Greaves' Satanic Temple put a statue of Baphomet, a Satanic idol, into the Iowa State Capitol last year in a testament to their right to be perceived as any other religious group. The Satantic display for Christmas was an outrage to many.

DeSantis signed the bill in April to allow chaplains to provide support services to K-12 students. That law went into effect on July 1. The program, he said, was "to support students and ensuring that patriotic organizations can visit schools and encourage student participation." It permits public schools to "adopt a policy to authorize volunteer school chaplains to provide support, services, and programs to students as assigned by the district school board or charter school governing board."  

The Satanic Temple offers ritual abortion in which they instruct women "Just before taking the medication, gaze at your reflection and focus on your personhood. Hone in on your intent, your responsibility to you." 

Even by their own admission, the Satanic Temple is far from a religious group. Their goal is to force the complete separation of church and state, even to the point of enforcing the creation of a secular religion that focuses on self-worship, such as with the Satanic ritual abortion. In so doing, they adopt the trappings of religion without a core of religiosity. The basis of their religion is the disruption of others' religions and their goal is to prevent government funding from going to a group that has religion at its core. If their past behavior is any indicator of future intent, they will sue Florida for access to the chaplain program or to force it to shut down.
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