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ROCK ISLAND COUNTY, IL – An Illinois school district is making headlines – and raising concerns among parents – after one of its elementary schools announced that they would be hosting an “After School Satan Club” for students.
On January 13, a picture of a flyer advertising the club at Jane Addams Elementary School in Moline was posted on Facebook, drawing a wide variety of responses, ranging from fear and anger to amusement and support.
“Hey kids, let’s have fun at the After School Satan Club!” the flyer reads. “Parents, your child will learn benevolence & empathy, critical thinking, problem solving, creative expression, and personal sovereignty.”
The flyer goes on to mention that “After School Satan Clubs are taught by volunteer teachers who have passed criminal background checks and have been vetted by the Executive Ministry for professionalism, social responsibility, and superior communication skills.”
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Oddly enough, After School Satan Clubs have existed for a number of years; in 2016, it was reported that the Satanic Temple was planning Clubs in public schools across the country, from New York to Arizona.
Moline-Coal Valley School District spokeswoman Candace Sountris noted that the flyer has caused a great deal of “concern and confusion” amongst parents in the community, and issued a statement to clarify the situation, saying that the school district does not discriminate against any groups seeking to rent public facilities.
“The district has, in the past, approved these types of groups, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism fellowship group,” Sountris said. “Please note that the district must provide equal access to all groups and that students need parental permission to attend any after-school event. Our focus remains on student safety and student achievement.”
The Satanic Temple has stated that they do not, in fact, worship Satan; instead, they consider themselves “a nontheistic religious and human rights group” that ironically uses Satanic imagery to “promote egalitarianism, social justice, and the separation of church and state,” to support their mission to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people.”
The organization’s stated goals include political actions and lobbying efforts with a focus on “exposing Christian privilege when it interferes with personal religious freedom.”
Fox New host Tucker Carlson last week interviewed Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves, who said that the After School Satan Clubs were created as an alternative to the many religiously-affiliated after-school programs that are currently available to children.
“[Our club] doesn’t include items of religious opinion, it doesn’t include indoctrination, it just has a self-directed learning program with trained educators there to help guide the children through different activities,” Greaves said.
“Have any school administrators said, ‘look I know you can lecture me about religious freedom, but you’re a Satan Club and we’re not going to let little kids go to the Satan Club.’ Is anybody saying that, or are they just passive like everyone else in America and kind of letting it happen?” Carlson asked.
“Well, that’s not being passive, that’s understanding what the law, is it’s understanding what the constitution is, that’s understanding what free speech is and what religious liberty is,” Greaves responded.
Carlson seemed to take exception to schools allowing “Satan Clubs” but allegedly not allowing students to recite passages from the Bible, claiming that “you can be suspended from school for quoting portions from the Old Testament, like immediately.”
“We’re not against anybody’s religious right to practice their religion,” Greaves replied. “We’re not asking for other religious clubs to be taken out, we’re asking for equal access.”