- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2016

The Satanic Temple plans to host after-school activities in districts across the country.

Students who attend an evangelical Christian after-school program known as the Good News Club will soon be offered a “satanic” alternative. The Satanic Temple said its programs will show children “there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think.”

Doug Mesner, who goes by the professional name of Lucien Greaves, spoke to The Washington Post on Saturday about the group’s plans. He is the co-founder of the Satanic Temple along with Malcolm Jarry.

“We are only doing this because Good News Clubs have created a need for this,” Mr. Greaves said. “If Good News Clubs would operate in churches rather than public schools, that need would disappear. But our point is that if you let one religion into the public schools, you have to let others, otherwise it’s an establishment of religion. […] We’ve moved well beyond being a simple political ploy and into being a very sincere movement that seeks to separate religion from superstition.”

Mr. Greaves’ grievance stems from the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Good News Club v. Milford Central School” ruling in 2001, which concluded that denying after-school groups based on religious views infringed upon First Amendment rights. The Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), for example, initiated over 3,500 programs after the ruling.

“We would like to thank the Liberty Counsel specifically for opening the doors to the After School Satan Clubs through their dedication to religious liberty,” Mr. Greaves recently told a gathering in Salem, Massachusetts, the newspaper reported. “So, ‘the Satanic Temple leverages religious freedom laws that put after-school clubs in elementary schools nationwide.’ That’s going to be the message.”

The Post reached out to Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver for comment, who replied, “I would definitely oppose after­-school Satanic clubs, but they have a First Amendment right to meet. I suspect, in this particular case, I can’t imagine there’s going to be a lot of students participating in this. It’s probably dust they’re kicking up and is likely to fade away in the near future for lack of interest.”

Mr. Greaves told The Post that his group does not believe in Satan. The group instead uses the name as a “metaphorical construct” against intellectual tyranny.

“The Satanic Temple (TST) facilitates the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty,” the group’s mission statement reads.

Some TST chapter heads who took part in the group’s Salem meeting on after-school programming included members from Boston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and San Jose. Members from Maryland, New York and Florida also participated, the newspaper reported.

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