The Satanic Temple holds a convention

I have been aware of the Satanic Temple as largely a group that seeks to dethrone religion’s dominance in US culture by demanding that the same privileges that are given to traditional religions, such as monuments in public lands, also be allowed to them. I knew that they use Satanic rituals and regalia even though they do not believe in Satan or the afterlife. It is political activism mixed in with cosplaying and performance art. They are in fact secular and supporters of a science-based worldview and fight racism and homophobia.

However they seem to be much larger than I had thought as evidenced by their convention currently underway at a Marriott hotel in Boston.

The Satanic Temple is recognised as a religion by the US government, and has ministers and congregations in America, Europe and Australia.

More than 830 people snapped up tickets for its late April convention, dubbed SatanCon.

Members say they don’t actually believe in a literal Lucifer or Hell. Instead, they say Satan is a metaphor for questioning authority, and grounding your beliefs in science. The sense of community around these shared values makes it a religion, they say.

They do use the symbols of Satan for rituals – for example when celebrating a wedding or adopting a new name. That might include having an upside-down neon cross on your altar while shouting: “Hail Satan!”

For many Christians, this is serious blasphemy.

“That’s not wrong,” agrees Dex Desjardins, a spokesperson for The Satanic Temple. “A lot of our imagery is inherently blasphemous.

The event takes up the whole fourth floor of the hotel. The Satanists fill it with androgynous goth chic, flamboyant robes, hand-painted horns, diabolical tattoos, and high-maintenance moustache choices. Most people here are old enough to be parents, and several are. I spot at least one pushchair.

Presentations are given, including one called “Hellbillies: Visible Satanism in Rural America”, and a seminar on Satanism and self-pleasure.

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The Satanic Temple takes on the US Navy

The Satanic Temple keep pushing on the contradictions that exist in how US governmental institutions treat religions. Rather than simplifying matters by requiring that the government and all its agencies be strictly secular, as a reasonable reading of the Establishment Clause might require, the government and the courts have sought to find ways to accommodate religious beliefs in some form, partly I suspect out of fear there will be an outraged reaction from Christian evangelicals who strongly believe that this is a Christian country.
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Satanic Temple recognized by the IRS as a church

In a significant development, the Satanic Temple has been recognized by the IRS as a church. The decision has sparked a debate as to what constitutes a church. For too long, religions have claimed a privileged place in society, without having to really justify why they should be given preferential treatment. The Satanic Temple has been steadily contesting that claim by logical extension, that there is no way to draw a clear line that separates those institutions that are traditionally recognized as religions from other groups that share broadly similar characteristics.
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A new documentary about Satanists and the Satanic Temple

I have written many times before about the Satanic Temple and their efforts to keep the public square secular and open to all beliefs and not have it become the domain of those who favor one religion over other religions or religion in general over non-religion. Their demand that their statue of Baphomet be allowed in any public space that allows religious symbols has proven to be a potent political and legal argument against religious exclusivity but their broader goals are to promote social justice and equality.
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Satanic fun and games in Arkansas

Those wacky Satanists are at it again in their efforts to maintain the separation of church and state, targeting the inane practice of some legislatures to post monuments to the Ten Commandments on public grounds. Some people think that the lack of public religiosity is the cause of America’s descent into immorality and that reminding people about what their god expects of them will make their behavior better. There is so much that is obviously wrong with that view that I will not waste time dealing with it.
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More on the Oklahoma Satanic monument

You may recall that following the erection of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol in Oklahoma, a Hindu group proposed putting up a statue to their god Hanuman and a Satanic group has proposed one too. Gideon Resnick joined the New York—based Satanic Temple to learn more people behind the latter effort. This group of Satanists seems closer in outlook to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster than to anything occult. [Read more…]

A Pyrrhic victory for religious symbolism

While much of the week’s legal news has centered on the leaked draft of a US Supreme Court that revealed that a majority of the court have decided to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the US, there was another ruling on Monday that has much less of a momentous impact, and that was the unanimous opinion that said that the city of Boston could not forbid the flying of a flag at city hall that had a cross on it.

The city of Boston violated the free speech rights of a Christian group by refusing to fly a flag bearing the image of a cross at city hall as part of a program that let private groups use the flagpole while holding events in the plaza below, the US supreme court ruled unanimously on Monday.

The 9-0 decision overturned a lower-court ruling that the rejection of Camp Constitution and its director, Harold Shurtleff, did not violate their rights to freedom of speech under the first amendment to the US constitution.
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Is trolling public displays of religion a good idea?

The Satanic Temple and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Or Pastafarians for short) are examples of non-religious groups adopting religious symbolism in order to highlight the importance of separation of church and state by showing that if you allow one religion into the public sphere, then you have to allow every religion, even parody ones. The Satanic Temple has been particularly effective in rolling back attempts to plant Ten Commandments and other monuments on public land, by demanding that their own statue of Baphomet be placed as well, because of the requirement that government entities be neutral with regard to religions
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Film review: Hail Satan? (2019)

I recently watched this documentary on The Satanic Temple that I previewed earlier. It is an enjoyable film, informative and quite funny in parts, that looks at the origins of the group, what their aims are, and how they set about trying to achieve their goals. It seemed to have started out as a lark to troll religious conservatives, with stunts such as members dressed in what people think is appropriate Satanic dress holding a press conference on the steps of the Florida state capitol building to endorse right wing Florida governor Rick Scott, who clearly did not want their endorsement.
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The battle over Christmas is over

The idea that December is now a general season of celebration for everyone has taken hold, aided by the addition of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa to the mix. The commercialization of Christmas, with retailers seeking to draw everyone in to the gift-giving frenzy whatever their religious beliefs further cements that idea, and you can be sure that ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Season’s Greetings’ will remain in stores despite all the efforts of the Christian warriors, aided by that extremely religious person Donald Trump, to force people to only say ‘Merry Christmas’, though that too has been largely drained of any religious sentiment.
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