Right around 10:30 pm on a spring night, Teddy* walked into a popular local bar.

“It was finals period—I think I was working on some sort of paper—but I was pretty excited to finally take a break from my work and go to this thing.”

He showed his ID to the bouncer and headed upstairs to the club, where about 50-100 people were gathered. He was a little bit late, so they had already started when he got there. Thanks to his Catholic upbringing, though, Teddy recognized what he was hearing as the ‘Gloria’ of the Latin Mass and was able to follow along, although this was a little different from other services he had attended.

“There was a funny part where [the celebrant] messed up the words, and it was really clear that he had stumbled, and he was like, ‘Forgive me, Satan!’ and then he kept going.”

 

It definitely didn’t seem very sinister.

 

Back in May, I published a post here about the Black Mass controversy at Harvard. Writing that story left me frustrated with the media coverage of the event, because I found almost no information on what the actual ceremony consisted of, or what the beliefs and goals of the organizers and participants were. So I decided to ask them myself.

Let’s start with what actually happened in the Kong that night. There were about 50-100 people present in the club portion on the second floor. The festivities began with a twenty-some-minute lecture by a member of the Satanic Temple on the history of the Black Mass. (More on that history later.) Jex Blackmore, one of the performers of the ceremony, describes the audience to me as “very respectful when we began, and really quiet and interested. I think there was a really amazing energy that wouldn’t have been there if there hadn’t been so much chaos [surrounding the event].”

After the lecture, the Black Mass itself began. The cast included six characters: a celebrant, who read most of the ceremony; a deacon, a subdeacon, a nun, and an illuminator, who played supporting roles; and the woman who played perhaps the most supportive role of all as the actual altar, and who impressively remained in a backbend for nearly an hour. The performers held scripts, and the text was taken from a description of a (fictional) Black Mass in a nineteenth-century (fictional) French novel called Là-Bas. The whole thing seemed to me, more than anything else, like a production of Macbeth.

According to Teddy—who, remember, was raised Catholic, though he is now an atheist—the text of the ceremony closely mirrored that of the standard Catholic Latin Mass, “just substituting Satan for God.” There were a few other twists, of course. The celebrant wore horns on his head, and he faced away from the congregation (which was actually how Catholics did it too until Vatican II). The Communion wafer—which, by the way, was emphatically not consecrated—was thrown upon the ground and stepped on. When the performers got to the Lord’s Prayer, they said it in English, but backward: “evil from us deliver but” and so on through “heaven in art who Father Our.” And, naturally, “there was a part where they yelled ‘Hail Satan!’”

And that’s about it. No babies were murdered. Nobody was naked. No demonic possessions have been reported in the aftermath. All in all, “it was pretty benign,” says Quinn,* a leader of the student club that organized the event. “It definitely didn’t seem very sinister,” Teddy confirms. After all the extreme accusations and panicked protests, even Quinn was surprised by “how tame it was.” He admits, laughing, that he “kind of didn’t want that to get out” and deflate the mystique that had built up around his group.

The Black Mass as it eventually happened at Hong Kong was a scaled-back version of the original plans, which Quinn outlines for me:

“It was [supposed] to open with a lecture by Kennedy School professor Christopher Robichaud, who was going to be talking about the challenges associated with religious liberty and free speech and tolerance in a pluralistic democracy. That lecture was to be followed by an academic history of the Black Mass, explaining […] how it started as an idea that was actually created by the Church itself as a means of persecuting and going after undesirables. And then the final stage was a performance of the Black Mass, which was basically taken almost verbatim from Joris-Karl Huysmans’ Là-Bas. It was a staged reading, essentially.”

And to wrap up the night, the students had arranged live music. “It’s a local band from Cambridge,” Quinn tells me wistfully. “It’s too bad they didn’t get to play.”

 

The Black Mass is completely fictional, and that’s part of why we did it.

 

So if these people weren’t actually summoning the Devil into a dive bar, what was this all about?

The Cultural Studies Club, the Harvard Extension School student group that organized the event, is pretty much what it sounds like: it’s a club for learning about different cultural practices many students might not otherwise encounter, from a Satanic Black Mass to a Shinto tea ceremony. Or at least, that was what they would have done; this was their first event, and Quinn isn’t sure if they’ll recover from the debacle. They’re even considering changing the group’s name to clean the slate and start fresh in the fall.

Hearing Quinn talk about the value of learning from other people’s traditions, I am reminded of my own experience as an interfaith organizer. Even if you don’t share somebody’s whole belief system, he says, you can still find “something attractive, meaningful, and substantive” in their worldview that might resonate with you; you “can at least create a bridge of understanding.”

That’s why Quinn, who is not a Satanist, was excited to host the Satanic Temple at his school for an educational event. Such an extremely fringe group might seem like an odd choice for the club’s debut—until you learn that Quinn knew one of its leaders, Lucien Greaves, from school. So when he started his club, he asked Lucien if the Temple had any kind of cultural practice they would like to come demonstrate.

“The Black Mass isn’t something we really do,” Lucien explains to me. “I don’t like to engage in regular ritual. Our anti-authoritarian foundation is rather against it […]. But I liked the idea of doing something academic, something that could really give a background on the idea of Satanism, and the idea of a Black Mass is a great focal point for that.”

The weird thing about the Black Mass is that it isn’t something anybody ever really did, or at least not before it was claimed that they did. As far as I can tell without wading into primary sources in languages I don’t speak, it originated in the imaginations of people who wanted to accuse outsiders of something horrible. “It actually started as propaganda from the Catholic Church itself to justify killing dissenters,” Lucien tells me. “It’s completely fictional,” says Jex, “and that’s part of why we did it—it’s a way of taking back those stereotypes of the outsider.”

Lucien confirms what everybody else has told me about the event: “We weren’t trying to raise the devil. We don’t even believe in a personal devil.”

That’s right: these Satanists don’t believe in Satan.

 

You need to judge people for their real actions in the real world rather than dismissing them wholesale because of some idiotic label you’ve placed upon them.

 

“We live at the intersection between religion and science,” Lucien says, “because our drive is to understand the material world, and we feel the scientific method is the best to do that, but we don’t feel that excludes us from having a religion. We think that the important qualities of a religion can exist [… without] supernaturalism. We have a culture, a community, a symbolic body; we have a narrative structure that contextualizes our work and goals; and we think those are the important aspects.” This description makes all the fuss about whether or not Satanism counts as a real religion seem narrow and misguided to me. “We can get pretty postmodern about ‘What is a religion?’ and that kind of thing,” Lucien acknowledges, “but I think the important thing to realize is that what we have here does embody our deeply held beliefs.”

Those beliefs, as outlined on their website, include that “one should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures,” “the freedom of others should be respected,” and “beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world.” These are not the kinds of beliefs that keep parents up at night wondering if their children are involved with them. These beliefs should not frighten the Catholic Church into protests and marches and exorcisms. This is pretty much a list of the basic requirements for civil human interaction.

Satan comes into it not as a literal deity, but as more of a literary character who embodies those values. Lucien describes Satan as “symbolic of the ultimate rebel against the ultimate autocrat.” For Jex, Satan serves as a “philosophical or metaphorical construct of the individual, of the things that we can’t possibly escape that are part of our true human nature.” This appealed to her after growing up in a Lutheran church and becoming frustrated with the concept of “sin as being something you can’t escape” in a “rigged” divine justice system.

Adopting the Satanic label can also serve a political function. “You’re embracing that outsider status,” Lucien says when I ask how aligning oneself with Satan could ever be a valid PR strategy for a group whose goals are the opposite of demonic. He tells me what it was like growing up during the original Satanic Panic, in which stories materialized apparently out of thin air about Satanic cults ritually abusing children; jobs were lost and lives were ruined by groundless hysteria. Those Satanists, like the Salem witches and the Black Mass itself, existed only in the imaginations of the accusers. Lucien was horrified by the way a mere label could do such damage in the absence of any evidence—and that’s exactly why he’s now taken on that label for himself.

The Satanic Temple can’t honestly call itself anything but Satanic because embracing the taboo is the whole point of what they’re doing. When I ask him if it’s counterproductive to use such a misunderstood word, Lucien pushes back: “I don’t think that people’s ideas of what Satanism is supposed to be should be preserved in any way whatsoever. It’s dangerous, it’s destructive, it’s counterproductive itself, and it’s been so harmful throughout our history […]. You need to judge people for their real actions in the real world rather than dismissing them wholesale because of some idiotic label you’ve placed upon them.”

Satanism is a challenge to society: a challenge to do better than our ancestors; to listen instead of yelling; to suppress knee-jerk reactions; to choose compassion over fear; to treat each other with respect. Satanism challenges us to be decent humans.

Last May, we failed that challenge.


Chelsea Link is an Editor at Large for Cosmologics and an alumna of Harvard College, where she studied History and Science.

 

*I have used pseudonyms for some of the people interviewed for this story to ensure their privacy and safety.

Image from Wikimedia Commons via Glabb.

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  1. Hey Chelsea, I really disagree with your analysis on this one. A huge part of the debate on this issue centered around whether the group would be using a consecrated host – effectively, whether they would be trampling on what Catholics consider the body of Jesus Christ himself. To choose to use a consecrated host, even if it were simply a re-enactment, would be disrespectful to Catholics in the highest degree. If the hosts of the Black Mass had clarified that they would not be using a consecrated host, the backlash would have been significantly less severe.

    The Catholics responded by holding a “counter protest” that consisted of praying for the participants in the Black Mass. I’m sorry, but this sounds to me like a hugely successful exercise in religious pluralism and tolerance. No one was forbidden from doing anything, no one was physically harmed. Harvard didn’t even prohibit the club from using an on-campus venue. There was a very real conversation on campus about religious toleration, both toward the group wanting to learn about Satanism and toward Catholics.

    If anyone failed this “challenge,” it was the Satanists themselves. To say that your mission is to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people” while you intentionally insult and denigrate one of the largest religions in the world is misguided in the highest degree. To choose, as a representation of your group’s cultural practice, an offensive ritual which “isn’t something we really do” speaks louder than any mission statement on a website could. Imagine if a cultural group had chosen to burn a Koran as a study of American terrorist fears. Would that group really be listening to others? Imagine if a group staged a KKK re-enactment didn’t feature a lesson about the dangers of the KKK or the side of the blacks in the South, but a defense of the KKK and its behavior. Could you really say that group challenged us to be decent human beings? Even if the Black Mass was relatively uneventful, the Satanists chose an insulting parody instead of a benign representation.

    You may judge the Satanists by what they say; I will judge them by what they do.

    • Joe

      The above comment reeks of Christian privilege. You don’t hear Satanists complaining about what goes on during a Christian mass, do you?

    • Jordan, I’m following up in response to your comment because I would like to correct some of the information you’ve cited here regarding the Black Mass event.

      The Satanic Temple, and the Cultural Studies Club released a statement to the press, and made several public clarifications regarding the use of a consecrated host – Here is a quote from the Washington Times, CNS News, Religion News Services, and several others, “While Black Masses are supposed to utilize a consecrated host, ours is merely representative of a consecrated host,” Satanic Temple Spokesperson, Lucien Greaves explained, “It is not consecrated. We neither believe in nor invoke the supernatural.” One of the reasons you may feel that this point was not clarified, is because the prevailing media voice either did not provide us with an opportunity to explain the intent and value of the event from our point of view, the Catholic perspective seemed to be much better for headlines.

      The media coverage was outrageously one-sided. The dominant public voice was granted to the Catholics who relentlessly made sensationalized and prejudice claims about the Satanic faith as well as the intent of the Black Mass without demonstrating any interest in responding to our offers to have a productive conversation or mediated dialogue either privately or publicly regarding what would happen during the Mass, our intent and what it represents to us. By blindly promoting public hysteria we were not provided with an opportunity to respond to their fears, allowing the view of religious majority to dominate perceptions. If you feel that there was a “very real conversation on campus”, I would argue that it was one missing several of the facts.

      So, in addition to having our voice taken away, our belief’s slandered and receiving a number of death threats, Harvard did place or attempt to place several restrictions on the event. Besides asking us if we would not perform the Mass, or if we would consider cancelling – a day before the performance they mandated attendance restrictions to about 75% of the registered attendees, which caused distress within the community of individuals who had been planning to attend the Black Mass, causing us to respond to claims of being exclusionary – the undermining the purpose of the event itself.

      Because the event was intended to be educational, and challenge the stigmatization of marginalized groups we made a choice to move the event to a location that could accommodate all individuals who were interested in attending. However, the Middle East who welcomed us at first, backed out after receiving threats by individuals who suggested that their liquor license and business operations would be challenged if they decided to follow through. Other venues who were interested in hosting the event also backed out – because they were fearful of ramifications for offending the Catholic Church.
      The Black Mass is a fictionalized ritual, historically used by the Church to promote hysteria to demonize those who oppose the repressive power of the church or who are social “outsiders”. One of the Satanic Temple’s missions is to destroy divisive demonologies and false assumptions regarding the Satanic narrative – A reenactment of The Black Mass is an excellent tool to demonstrate this sorted history and the educational construct of the event was clearly needed within the public forum. Although we do not typically practice this ritual – The Black Mass is largely representative of our personal convictions, and as a demonstration against the oppressiveness of dominant religion – it is deeply meaningful to us. Our religious convictions are no less entitled to public expression or ritual performance that the positions of the Catholic Church.

      Lastly, the comparisons that you have cited are deeply problematic. Are you saying that offending the Catholic Mass, is comparable to the very real history of African American Holocaust or the violence imposed by dogmatic Islamic extremists? Not only does that notion degrade the history and grievous reality of those atrocities, but it aims to parallel offense to Catholics – individuals who belong to one of the most powerful institutions in the world, to the histories of marginalized groups. Not to mention that the KKK were a group of Christian supremacists and that threats to burn the Quran have been carried out by American Christian pastors, in fact much of the content that comes out of the Catholic church itself I find deeply offensive – morally, ethically and constitutionally.

      The attempt to label the event as a hateful, or hate speech elevates not only a privileged majority, but continues to vilify a misunderstood minority group. Our event did not celebrate violence or atrocity, it did not target marginalized groups or attempt to silence or exclude them from the democratic process. The Black Mass may have been offensive to some, but that in and of itself does not bar such events from taking place, especially as a peaceful reenactment representing important truths to people of a alternate faith, to be held in private for only interested parties.

      It is everyone’s right to express disapproval through protest and dissent- but the moment that Catholic organizers demanded that the event be canceled, and then proceeded to use their access to power to distort the intent of the organizers and eventually shut it down – violates notions of religious tolerance. The outcome was a display of a powerful religion enforcing their privilege by stomping on those who are smaller and less powerful. Perhaps if we had been provided a chance to have a voice within the public forum you would have an opportunity to judge us by both our actions and our words.

      • Buk

        You seem to be assuming that ‘Islamic’ is inherently a category of oppressed people, ‘Catholic’ inherently a category of the oppressive. Isn’t that a bit myopic, geographically and temporally? Neither the meaning nor the extension of these terms matches your use.

        • doug

          Maybe it would be “a bit myopic, geographically and temporally” if it weren’t for the fact that we are discussing a very specific event in place and time.

  2. doug

    I have a feeling that Jordan, in his mindless outrage typical of those who revolted against the Black Mass, didn’t even bother to read this piece. If so, he certainly didn’t understand it. For one thing, the Satanic Temple was clear that they weren’t using a consecrated host. For another thing, as is stated in the piece, the Black Mass is derived from Catholic hate speech — superstitious propaganda the Church used to justify the killing of dissenters — that has been repurposed now to reflect the participants affirmative values: namely, the rejection of superstition. To say that a failure to recognize superstitious Catholic hate speech as the only valid interpretation of this cultural myth, and that a failure to do so is, in fact, hate speech against Catholics is laughable, if disgusting. To say that a significant population of people believe that a cracker is a magical man, without shame, is frightening. That the Boston Catholics could be moved to march against an academic lecture and reenactment, while having shown nowhere near any such level of outrage over the pedophilia in their own organization, is utterly nauseating. Next time, Jordan, try reading the article you’re commenting on before simply reciting the sound bites that were handed to you by a berobed, sputtering authority.

  3. Oz

    “The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people.”

    How does a Black Mass-a fictitious ritual of Catholic propaganda-encourage benevolence and empathy among all people? Why not just stop at the lecture. That should be educational enough.

    Also, how does the following reinforce benevolence and empathy:
    -Performing an indecent act (presenting one’s genitalia in broad daylight where people of all ages come to mourn their loved ones),
    -Proclaiming an atheistic stance, yet promoting prayer in school (Rick Scott),
    -Associating/aligning children AND women who have been victimized by Christian abuse (explicitly) with tenets of (so-called) Satanism in an effort to shield them from information they should know and be able to rightfully debunk and to protect them from abuse (by opening up to a whole new world of it),
    -Promoting separation of church and state by pushing a religious monument with impressionable children in the presence of an erect (Caduceus) phallus?

    I’d also like to know why a group so aware of The Satanic Panic would wish to place children in association with the word Satan, whose practice is prevalent in a Christian-oriented society?

    • Joe

      “How does a Black Mass-a fictitious ritual of Catholic propaganda-encourage benevolence and empathy among all people? Why not just stop at the lecture. That should be educational enough.”

      The Black Mass was a mere reenactment. If Christians are so butt-hurt over a fictional reenactment, they’re being far too sensitive. Christian services don’t offend us, as long as we’re not forced to attend. Were you forced to attend (or even read about) The Black Mass???

      “Also, how does the following reinforce benevolence and empathy:
      -Performing an indecent act (presenting one’s genitalia in broad daylight where people of all ages come to mourn their loved ones),”

      Oooo. He showed his wee wee. How indecent. That thing should be covered at all times. Breast feeding mothers too. How dare they expose their skin. Don’t stop there! Burkas for everyone.

      Seriously, The Pink Mass was a solemn religious service. We believe it resulted in turning Phelps mom into a carpet muncher in Hell, a noble cause if there ever was one. Lucien’s allowed to whip it out for that, anytime. Even around my young daughter. We won’t be offended.

      “-Proclaiming an atheistic stance, yet promoting prayer in school (Rick Scott),”

      If you can’t see the genius of this tactic, I can’t help you.

      “-Associating/aligning children AND women who have been victimized by Christian abuse (explicitly) with tenets of (so-called) Satanism in an effort to shield them from information they should know and be able to rightfully debunk and to protect them from abuse (by opening up to a whole new world of it),”

      Huh? Nobody is forcing anyone to “associate or align” with The Satanic Temple. If you’re thinking of forced indoctrination, I think you have us confused with Christianity.

      “-Promoting separation of church and state by pushing a religious monument with impressionable children in the presence of an erect (Caduceus) phallus?”

      I think you must have it out for penises.

      “I’d also like to know why a group so aware of The Satanic Panic would wish to place children in association with the word Satan, whose practice is prevalent in a Christian-oriented society?”

      You should really research things before you submit them as evidence. No shred of evidence was every produced to lend credence to SRA.

    • doug

      “How does a Black Mass-a fictitious ritual of Catholic propaganda-encourage benevolence and empathy among all people?”

      If it helps people look past the harmful superstitions that have previously been used for mindless persecutions, then the Black Mass does, in fact, encourage benevolence. To preserve the Catholic mythology does the opposite.

      “(presenting one’s genitalia in broad daylight where people of all ages come to mourn their loved ones)”

      By this, one assumes you mean the Pink Mass enacted against the Westboro Baptist Church, in which case it’s simply asinine to say “where people of all ages come” as though there were an assembled crowd. In fact, nobody else was present and the grounds were entirely undisturbed. The Westboro Baptists are well-recognized hate-mongers, yet you conveniently take the context of protest against them out of your summary, revealing a rather dishonest approach.

      “Proclaiming an atheistic stance, yet promoting prayer in school (Rick Scott)”

      Upholding the constitutional value of religious pluralism, reminding ignorant politicians that all viewpoints have the same rights. Prayers, inspirational messages — these belong to all, believers and non-believers alike.

      “Associating/aligning children AND women who have been victimized by Christian abuse (explicitly) with tenets of (so-called) Satanism in an effort to shield them from information they should know and be able to rightfully debunk and to protect them from abuse (by opening up to a whole new world of it)”

      Now this is just a barrage of gibberish. What in the world is this supposed to mean? What do you mean when you say TST aligns women and children explicitly with Satanism? Do you have an example of this?
      What do you mean when you say, “n an effort to shield them from information they should know and be able to rightfully debunk and to protect them from abuse”? It’s absolutely nonsensical.

      “Promoting separation of church and state by pushing a religious monument with impressionable children in the presence of an erect (Caduceus) phallus?”

      I really wonder what kind of sick mind looks at the caduceus and sees nothing but a cold rendering of a phallus? Do you feel the some outrage when you see a similar symbol on a pediatrics hospital? Is a phallic symbol (such as the Pope’s hat, derived from early fertility cults) nothing more to you than a pornographic rendering? If so, the disturbance is your own — don’t project that onto TST.

      “I’d also like to know why a group so aware of The Satanic Panic would wish to place children in association with the word Satan, whose practice is prevalent in a Christian-oriented society?”

      I’d like to know who would place their children in association with Catholicism, given the churches well-known failure to substantively address their pedophilia problem! So I guess we’ll just both have to agree to disagree there.

      • Dragon Dagoth

        ***If it helps people look past the harmful superstitions that have previously been used for mindless persecutions, then the Black Mass does, in fact, encourage benevolence. To preserve the Catholic mythology does the opposite.***

        Now, from what I am aware of legitimate Satanists, they are not white knights, nor do they wear good-guy badges, and they definitely do not partake in benevolent acts for the overall good of the public. In fact, it is of little consequence to Satanists (from what I know) on what Catholics do on their own (so long as what they do does not infringe on others’ rights)So what does it matter to someone such as yourself who claims to be a Satanist what others’ do? Assuming I am speaking to the “Doug Mesner?

        ***In fact, nobody else was present and the grounds were entirely undisturbed. The Westboro Baptists are well-recognized hate-mongers, yet you conveniently take the context of protest against them out of your summary, revealing a rather dishonest approach.***

        You’re a liar. You have purposely misled the general public on your Pink Mass event. Provided your father passed away (who you have openly admitted in an interview you have not had any communication with since you were a child) and let us say the Westboro Baptist Church did something similar to your father (provided he is dead) It would be of no consequence to the TST, as his mother died when he was five and did not have the opportunity to support and oppose his views. The same as would be of little consequence to the WBC. All this (as everyone who astute enough to do their research) knows you’re just playing the general public like the Catholics actions you claim to oppose. Perhaps those people were right in that interview when they noted you have “Daddy issues” your actions speak in volumes for yourself.

        ***Upholding the constitutional value of religious pluralism, reminding ignorant politicians that all viewpoints have the same rights. Prayers, inspirational messages — these belong to all, believers and non-believers alike.***

        School is for education, all religions should see their way out of the public system.

        ***I really wonder what kind of sick mind looks at the caduceus and sees nothing but a cold rendering of a phallus? ***

        What kind of a mind would include children in religion? Let alone include statues of children next to a statue that has something erect between its legs. I have to agree with Mr. Oz on this. It is rather shocking.

        ***I’d like to know who would place their children in association with Catholicism, given the churches well-known failure to substantively address their pedophilia problem! ***

        You did not answer Mr. Oz’s question. You’ve evaded his question, and answered a question with a question to avoid giving a direct answer.

        Quite a pity really. Your organization has no substance. Example, your organization does not have a foundation, or canon literature. All you’re organization is doing is trolling trolls. You refer to Anton LaVey to validate the organization you are piggy backing off of, when legitimate Satanists view your org like vermin crawling across the floor, you’re the CoS’s WBC.

        Regardless, it will be interesting to see how your org will do without using the name Satanism, which is exclusive for actual Satanists or referring to anything the Church of Satan does to legitimize your org. Such as referencing the Satanic Bible or Anton LaVey, which you have nothing to do with.

      • Oz

        Shielding people from misinformation is a terrible approach.

        An example of the best approach would be to provide the facts and myths side-by-side so that the recipient of the information can see what the fallacies are and why exactly they’re wrong.
        Also, what if there is a medical clinic that actually hands out factual brochures in a state known for handing out religiously-biased-tainted misinformation? And what if these legitimate doctors would keep these legitimate, scientifically factual cautions to themselves for fear of being sued by TST?

        Also, since these misinformations are being peddled by religious groups who tend to be superstitious and belief that an actual devil is behind the harm of children and society, how does this help the potential mother-to-be’s welfare when personal information is at potentially-harmful Christians’ disposals?
        Here is a section of the letter that, in order to benefit from the letter, they need to adopt TST belief system as their own (“my sincerely held religious beliefs”). This communicates that they align with the religion seen by Christians and the mass public as Satanism. Adopting religious beliefs = taking them as a part of themselves = being of that religion.

        “Dear [Health Care Provider]:
        As an adherent to the principles of the Satanic Temple, my sincerely held religious beliefs are:
        • My body is inviolable and subject to my will alone.
        • I make any decision regarding my health based on the best scientific understanding of the world, even if the science does not comport with the religious or political beliefs of others.
        • My inviolable body includes any fetal or embryonic tissue I carry so long as that tissue is unable to survive outside my body as an independent human being.
        • I, and I alone, decide whether my inviolable body remains pregnant and I may, in good conscience, disregard the current or future condition of any fetal or embryonic tissue I carry in making that decision.

        “As you know, your medical treatment of me requires my informed consent. My informed consent is based solely on scientifically true and accurate information that is relevant to my decisions regarding my health and pregnancy in accordance with my sincerely held religious beliefs.
        “I regard any information required by state statute to be communicated or offered to me as a precondition for an abortion (separate and apart from any other medical procedure) to be based on politics and not science (“Political Information”).

        I regard Political Information as a state sanctioned attempt to discourage abortion by compelling my consideration of the current and future condition of my fetal or embryonic tissue separate and apart from my body. I do not regard Political Information to be scientifically true or accurate or even relevant to my medical decisions. The communication of Political Information to me imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my religious beliefs.

        “My informed consent is based solely on information you provide which, in the exercise of your independent medical judgment, is materially relevant to my health (excluding the present or future condition of any fetal or embryonic tissue inside my body) and is scientifically true and accurate. My informed consent is not based on Political Information.

        “This letter constitutes my acknowledgment that you have offered Political Information to me. I reject that Political Information because it offends my sincerely held religious beliefs. Please attach this letter to any forms you are required to keep regarding my informed consent.”
        ____
        This just gives them more ammo in their assumptions that “Satanists” are after their children. Also keep in mind that they believe life starts at conception and that fetuses are people and to abort them is murder.

        Would atheists responsibly vouch for evolution to not be taught side-by-side with creationism?
        This shows that those who would not want it presented side-by-side are insecure as to the validity of the argument of their leaning.
        A better solution: Create or support a hotline where women who have received these misinformations can call and get support by being referenced to website and doctors.

        Get in touch with doctors and create a directory and debunked myths where these women can call and get the facts from several experts that are known to be non-biased. It’s an emotional time for them and causing them more trouble by associating them with “Satanism” won’t do anything but distract from the real issue.
        …..
        I wrote:
        “Promoting separation of church and state by pushing a religious monument with impressionable children in the presence of an erect (Caduceus) phallus?”

        You wrote:
        “I really wonder what kind of sick mind looks at the caduceus and sees nothing but a cold rendering of a phallus? Do you feel the some outrage when you see a similar symbol on a pediatrics hospital? Is a phallic symbol (such as the Pope’s hat, derived from early fertility cults) nothing more to you than a pornographic rendering? If so, the disturbance is your own — don’t project that onto TST.”

        Note that I was addressing the Caduceus IN REFERENCE TO THE MONUMENT. When someone does that, it’s irresponsible to assume that they are referring to all instances of its display and usage.

        The Caduceus ON THE MONUMENT is coming up from between the goat’s legs. And the goat is depicted as a male. This is without a doubt phallic. And the fact that it’s erect clearly communicates sexual arousal. And children are present. That’s a bit more than an insinuation.
        I will project that onto TST. But I really don’t have to, since it’s been projected on yourselves through the design.
        “I really wonder what kind of sick mind looks at the caduceus and sees nothing but a cold rendering of a phallus?”

        The kind of “sick mind” that sees it for what it is. But definitely NOT the kind of sick mind that would place children around it and call it family friendly.

        What benefit does this have besides furthering the support of stereotypes that have been around for centuries which, by the way, don’t just go away. And they certainly don’t go away by insinuating a repeat of them through such representations.

        “I’d also like to know why a group so aware of The Satanic Panic would wish to place children in association with the word Satan, whose practice is prevalent in a Christian-oriented society?”

        “I’d like to know who would place their children in association with Catholicism, given the churches well-known failure to substantively address their pedophilia problem! So I guess we’ll just both have to agree to disagree there.”

        No. What I meant was, why would one include children in most of TST campaigns and be out about it in a society that will only see the association of children with Satan and “Satanism” with the panic of the 80-90’s, witchcraft trials, conspiracy, etc.
        This doesn’t further the cause of anything empathetic and benevolent, it only allows for the perpetuence of these stereotypes by those who have an axe to grind with anything that’s not Christian.
        And the fact the ‘Satanic Children’s Activity Book’ has a child instructing other children how to do a ‘Satanic’ ritual where there’s a frightened frog jumping out of a bowl (traditionally a symbol for animal sacrifice; something that only anti-Satanism Christian propaganda endorses) is just terrible and stupid.
        …..
        “Associating/aligning children AND women who have been victimized by Christian abuse (explicitly) with tenets of (so-called) Satanism in an effort to shield them from information they should know and be able to rightfully debunk and to protect them from abuse (by opening up to a whole new world of it)”
        Now this is just a barrage of gibberish. What in the world is this supposed to mean? What do you mean when you say TST aligns women and children explicitly with Satanism? Do you have an example of this?
        What do you mean when you say, “n an effort to shield them from information they should know and be able to rightfully debunk and to protect them from abuse”? It’s absolutely nonsensical.

        See my quoting of the letter regarding accurate medical info.

        Also, regarding the associating children with TST, which is perceived as Satanism:
        (From the letter that TST issues out to the school districts and the principals of these schools that allow corporal punishment (which has been, per the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ dictum, shown to be more so predominant in religious schools than secular):

        “The Satanic Temple has been advised that [STUDENT] share our religious belief. I am writing to request that you notify the principal, teachers, and other staff who have contact with this student about these religious beliefs and direct them not to willfully inflict any kind of physical or psychological harm for any reason. Please confirm whether you will comply with this request. Your cooperation would be appreciated.”

        So, TST is going to distribute these to schools who feel that Satan is evil and that these children are going to be seen as being in households where Satanism is a religion?

        This will cause terrible issues for not only the child but their families. Keep in mind that daycares were shut down and children were taken away from their parents by religious-minded individuals and agencies that were compelled to such actions on quite a bit less.

        How about working to pass laws to omit corporal punishment from these schools instead of making TST in favor of indoctrination and harming children in other ways?

        And how would young children (the very ones you depict in the activity book and the “informative guides” on http://www.protectchildrenproject.org) confess to deeply-held beliefs or be able to recognize psychological abuse? Satanism is quite a bit more abstract than children can comprehend. Please keep that in mind:
        “I affirm that my deeply held beliefs acknowledge the inviolability of the human body and mind and being physically and psychologically harmed against my will violates these beliefs.” (from http://protectchildrenproject.com/register-me.php).
        Would you like me to give you another example of how children (and women in the aforementioned example) are explicitly aligned with Satanism?
        …….
        “(presenting one’s genitalia in broad daylight where people of all ages come to mourn their loved ones)”

        By this, one assumes you mean the Pink Mass enacted against the Westboro Baptist Church, in which case it’s simply asinine to say “where people of all ages come” as though there were an assembled crowd. In fact, nobody else was present and the grounds were entirely undisturbed. The Westboro Baptists are well-recognized hate-mongers, yet you conveniently take the context of protest against them out of your summary, revealing a rather dishonest approach.

        “Where people of all ages come” does NOT insinuate a crowd is awaiting an assemblage at any given moment.

        Whether or not the grounds were “undisturbed” and “nobody else was present” still wanes in the fact that permission for such an activity wasn’t given by the owner of the property. Do you own the property? Did you get a permit to do an activity of that kind there? This goes for anyone else who wishes to do a performance that is out of the context of the purpose of the establishment/setting.

        The fact that you feel the need to “1-up” WBC by mimicking them puts you on a level that is no better than them and is antithetical to your benevolence and empathy for all mission. WBC counts as all. So do Christians, yet you feel the need to call them ridiculous.
        Why don’t you take a lesson from the Freedom Riders and beat them at their own game by drowning out their hate instead of riding their coattails? Besides, the fact that Fred Phelps’ mother’s (who died when he was 5, as you’ve acknowledged) grave was disturbed by your pathetic act of “symbolism” is ridiculous. Why bring in an innocent person into your juvenile stunts? What if you couldn’t find her? Would you have then gone after one of his deceased neighbors? Or perhaps his childhood doctor?
        I also heard (I’m presuming this is Doug Mesner/Lucien Greaves) what you said on the Modern Satanism podcast regarding your hopes that Tom Raspotnik (a well-known critic of TST) is dead. Is this really in focus with benevolence or empathy?

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