On December 30, we learned that the town council of Brookville, Indiana had voted unanimously to disallow a Nativity display that had, for the past 50 years, resided each holiday season on their county’s Courthouse lawn. This reaction was the result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of The Satanic Temple (TST) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The county had rejected our own applications for putting up displays near the Nativity, prompting the legal action.
The suit was settled, as National Law Journal explained, “with the condition that Franklin County will allow local residents and churches to erect nonreligious displays outside the courthouse.” Groups like ours only needed a local contact to file for the permit.
Originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of Secular Nation Magazine
It started in 2009, when Oklahoma rep. Mike Ritze proposed a curious bit of legislation intended to justify erecting a monument to the Ten Commandments on the State’s Capitol grounds. As the monument would be a private donation — and the grounds available to other such generous offerings (so the argument went) — the 6-foot granite slab of graven Abrahamic edicts could certainly not be seen as an expression of religious preference or privilege. In fact, according to the bill, it would seem that the Ten Commandments aren’t actually of a religious nature at all, but a foundational American legal document.
The bill, which was effortlessly signed into law with bi-partisan support, asserts that the Ten Commandments somehow convey important historic American truths. To wit, that “God has ordained civil government and has delegated limited authority to civil government”, and also that it was “God” himself who “limited the authority of civil government.” (The question of whether or not it was God who came up with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, in an effort to maintain a separation of Church and State, must be dutifully ignored in this particular revisionist fantasy.)Read more “A Stone for a Stone: The Baphomet & the Decalogue”
In a press release dated September 12, 2014, The Satanic Temple (an organization I co-founded and for which I act as spokesperson) announced that it would seek to disseminate Satanic literature to students in the Orange County school district (FL), where the acting board has already allowed for the “passive distribution” of Evangelical materials. Being quite clear regarding our intentions, I stated in the press release that, “[w]e [TST] would never seek to establish a precedent of disseminating our religious materials in public schools because we believe our constitutional values are better served by respecting a strong separation of Church and State. However, if a public school board is going to allow religious pamphlets and full bibles to be distributed to students — as is the case in Orange County, Florida — we think the responsible thing to do is to ensure that these students are given access to a variety of differing religious opinions, as opposed to standing idly by while one religious voice dominates the discourse and delivers propaganda to youth.”
March 12, 2014, Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz — dubbed “The Great Right Hope” by The New Yorker Magazine — addressed a mob of party supporters in Washington with all the indignant and childish rhetoric expected of his aspirations. Raising the specter of pro-abortion Satanists, he referenced an event in Austin, Texas from the previous summer: “Pro-life protesters put their arms around each other and began singing Amazing grace,” he explained, “And the pro-abortion protesters began chanting, ‘Hail Satan.’ You know, there comes a point where you can’t make this stuff up. At least it’s truth-in-advertising! But that is, in fact, what they were doing, arm in arm, chanting, ‘Hail Satan,’ embracing the right to take the life of a late-term child.”
Since 1973’s Roe v. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States safeguarding the legality of abortion, the conservative religious right has grown increasingly — even violently — hysterical in defining anti-abortion initiatives in terms of apocalyptic significance. Lawmakers (primarily Republican) have steadily introduced bills transparently designed to make the process of receiving an abortion more harrowing, and overall as emotionally and logistically difficult as possible. The debate has been framed of one of life against death, and good against evil. Those who define the issue in terms of personal choice are literally demonized, fingered as conspirators in the Satanic agenda.
The pernicious encroachment of weasel bills imposing “informed consent laws” (requiring women seeking abortion be given false and/or biased scare material dissuading them from their decision), mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds, and “Wrongful Birth” bills (effectively allowing doctors to withhold information from a patient that they feel might increase her “risk” of seeking an abortion), are products of this effort to make what is ostensibly legal practically untenable and overly insulting. Read more “Misinformed Consent: counter-balancing anti-abortion weasel bills”
The rationale against child abuse shouldn’t be obscure to any person of average faculty. Beating children is wrong. subjecting children to psychological torture is wrong. Neither should be tolerated, much less sanctioned. While there may be general agreement on these points, 19 states in the US still allow corporal punishment in schools, granting teachers immunity from prosecution for beatings occasionally brutal enough to leave injuries that would find any parent charged with a felony.
An increasing number of public schools nationwide allow the use of solitary confinement — “seclusion rooms” — and physical restraints. While all empirical data supports the conclusion that such treatment of children adversely impacts cognitive and behavioral development, proponents of these forms of abuse can often be found to shamelessly quote the archaic edict that to spare the rod is to spoil the child.
It is one case among many in which traditional values contradict modern sense.
If, at its core, the argument for corporal punishment is rooted in some religious-minded adherence to “traditional values” (and, again, there is no scientific support for its practice, and significant evidence of its long-term harm) then it is worth pointing out that there are no small numbers of individuals who do not subscribe to counter-productive rote customs. Indeed, for many, personal sovereignty is a deeply-held value that is horrifically violated by punitive beatings.
The Satanic Temple (an organization for which I act as official spokesperson) holds among its tenets that “The body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone”. Read more “The Satanic Agenda”