Members of a Pennsylvania public school board have voted to deny a request from a satanic group to establish an after-school club, even though a Christian organization is already holding events for young people.
A local resident, Samantha Groome, had proposed bringing the After School Satan Club to Northern York Elementary School in York County. The clubs are sponsored by the Satanic Temple, a nontheistic organization that does not literally worship Satan.
The district allows the Joy El Christian Club, aimed at students in grades three through eight, to meet in its public schools. Members of the Satanic Temple say they should have the same right.
On its website, the Temple says of the clubs, “Proselytization is not our goal, and we’re not interested in converting children to Satanism. After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us. We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors.”
Residents packed a two-hour meeting on April 19 to attack the satanic club. Many of them quoted scripture, reported PennLive, a statewide news site.
“I’m sad all we are talking about is Satan,” resident Jodie Osborne said. “It’s not about Satan, it’s about God. Wrongs will be righted, and if we don’t start standing now, we’re going to lose our nation.”
Another speaker, Paul Miller, said of the Satanic Temple, “You shouldn’t be here. There’s no room for you here. If this freaking group does get voted in, let’s do something about it.”
But resident Deanna Weaver took a different approach and told the crowd that the Temple’s views are not extreme. She read the organization’s tenets, which include statements such as “One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason” and “Beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.”
But in the end, the board was not swayed, and only one member supported allowing the creation of the club. Eight members voted against it.
Lucien Greaves, cofounder of the Satanic Temple, told PennLive that the group tried to work with the board to bring the club to the district, but, “They were hoping to humiliate and intimidate us and drive us out. So they allowed people to show up and shout us down, then do their show trial and say they will not allow us to run the club.”
Greaves said the Temple is preparing to sue the district over the matter.