Satan, the Devil, is a religious myth. So I like how The Satanic Temple has taken this bit of dogmatic ridiculousness and made it into a way of promoting rationalism and free inquiry.
From their FAQs:
DO YOU WORSHIP SATAN?
It is the position of The Satanic Temple that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. The Satanist should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.
Hard to argue with that.
Unless you're a believer in the sort of supernaturalism that created the notion of Satan. Here's what happened at a Pensacola, Florida City Council meeting when a Satanist tried to deliver the invocation, having gotten the right to do this by none other than the Constitution of the United States.
The sight of Christians trying to drown him out at first, waving their hands in prayerful gestures, scared to high heaven (so to speak) by the devilish words they thought he was going to speak (but didn't) -- wonderful.
This video dramatizes the absurdity of religious belief, how it can turn some people into rigid, frightened caricatures of what a normal human being should be.
One can ask, of course, why members of The Satanic Temple should be able to give an invocation when the group is so critical of religiosity. There's a FAQ for that:
IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE SUPERNATURAL, HOW IS TST A RELIGION?
The idea that religion belongs to supernaturalists is ignorant, backward, and offensive. The metaphorical Satanic construct is no more arbitrary to us than are the deeply held beliefs that we actively advocate for. Are we supposed to believe that those who pledge submission to an ethereal supernatural deity hold to their values more deeply than we? Are we supposed to concede that only the superstitious are proper recipients of religious exemption and privilege? In fact, Satanism provides us all that a religion should, without a compulsory attachment to untenable items of faith-based belief: It provides a narrative structure by which we contextualize our lives and works. It provides a body of symbolism and religious practice — a sense of identity, culture, community, and shared values.
Another great activity of The Satanic Temple is After School Satan, which is a counterweight to Christian after-school religious brainwashing. My wife and I ordered a copy of "The Satanic Children's Big Book of Activities." I can hardly wait to read it with my nine year old granddaughter.
Not surprisingly, After School Satan is a bit controversial. Check out a Washington Post story, "An After School Satan Club could be coming to your kid's elementary school."
The Satanic Temple — which has been offering tongue-in-cheek support for the fallen angel in public arenas that have embraced prayer and parochial ceremonies — is bringing its fight over constitutional separation of church and state to the nation’s schools.
But the group’s plan for public schoolchildren isn’t actually about promoting worship of the devil. The Satanic Temple doesn’t espouse a belief in the existence of a supernatural being that other religions identify solemnly as Satan, or Lucifer, or Beelzebub. The Temple rejects all forms of supernaturalism and is committed to the view that scientific rationality provides the best measure of reality.
According to Mesner, who goes by the professional name of Lucien Greaves, “Satan” is just a “metaphorical construct” intended to represent the rejection of all forms of tyranny over the human mind.
The curriculum for the proposed after-school clubs emphasizes the development of reasoning and social skills. The group says meetings will include a healthful snack, literature lesson, creative learning activities, a science lesson, puzzle solving and an art project. Every child will receive a membership card and must have a signed parental permission slip to attend.
“We think it’s important for kids to be able to see multiple points of view, to reason things through, to have empathy and feelings of benevolence for their fellow human beings,” said the Satanic Temple’s Utah chapter head, who goes by the name Chalice Blythe.
Sounds good to me. Sign me up for a Satanic Temple t-shirt.
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