What is The Satanic Temple?
The Satanic Temple is a federally recognized, nontheistic religion and human rights group that was co-founded in 2013 by Lucien Grieves, the group’s spokesperson, and Malcolm Jerry. The Satanic Temple currently has 22 chapters across the United States and two in Canada, one in the United Kingdom and one in Australia.
Relationship with Satan
Since the Satanic Temple is a nontheistic religion, they do not worship Satan or any other god. Instead, The Satanic Temple holds value in what Satan symbolizes.
“We actually use Satan as a symbol of the eternal rebel, the one that demands balance in all things,” said Thomasin Rite, a spokesperson for Utah’s recent reproductive rights rally.
On its website, the Satanic Temple describes Satan as, “a heretic who questions sacred laws and rejects all tyrannical impositions.” The Satanic Temple’s metaphorical representation of Satan is, “best exemplified by Milton and the Romantic Satanists from Blake to Shelley to Anatole France.”
In response to a commonly asked question, which asks how a group can be religious without believing in the supernatural, the Satanic Temple website states that 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,” The Satanic Temple website continues.
The Satanic Temple has seven fundamental tenets that prioritize values such as empathy, compassion, justice, reason and science. These tenets guide members of the organization in utilizing and conceptualizing Satanism in their everyday lives, said Chalice Blythe, a minister of the temple and member of its ordination council.
“One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason,” the first tenet states.
Since its foundation, one of the Satanic Temple’s main goals is to promote a separation of church and state.
In an article for The Conversation — a nonprofit that publishes work from academic experts — Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Joseph P. Laycock comments on the Satanic Temple’s work.
“Their strategy is to remind the public that if Christians can use government resources to assert their cultural dominance, then Satanists are free to do the same.”
To put this strategy into action, the Satanic Temple has several ongoing campaigns such as Religious Reproductive Rights, Grey Faction, Protect Children Project and more, all of which can be learned more about on its website.
The Satanic Temple has pursued legal action to protect the religious rights of its members, including filing a lawsuit against Texas for “imposing medically unnecessary abortion regulations” against its plaintiff, referred to as “Anne Doe.”
Blythe believes the Satanic Temple’s activism is interconnected with its religious beliefs.
“It’s easy for others to conceptualize us as just activists, but we see our activism as an expression of our religious faith,” Blythe said.
“Everything we do has an intended purpose of equal representation or highlighting where there is an egregious impact on our rights as religious people.”
Rituals and other Satanic groups
The Satanic Temple conducts various rituals, such as Unbaptisms — in which participants “renounce superstitions that may have been imposed upon them without their consent as a child” — but the temple does not require its members to participate in any rituals.
The Satanic Temple differentiates itself from other Satanic organizations by noting their active movement.
“While many Satanic organizations seem to revel in superfluous hierarchies while isolating themselves in petty organizational autocracy, The Satanic Temple eschews rigid, centralized authority and focuses its efforts on effecting tangible constructive change.”
RELATED: Sundance film review: “Hail Satan?”