What comes to mind when you hear the word Satanist? Do you recoil? Does judgement and/or fear begin to bubble to the mind’s surface? Or do you chuckle and write Satanists off as just angsty, counter cultural, devil’s advocates (pun intended)? What does Satanism even mean? What do the people that consider themselves members of the Satanic Temple or Satanism in general even believe? Not many people seem to know or bother to find out.
I was introduced to Satanism by an old client of mine who was very dear to me, whom I still think of all the time. He identified as a Satanist and explained to me that this group does not actually believe in a literal “Satan.” It’s more about aligning themselves with the antithesis of Christianity. I was immediately interested to learn more. He lent me lots of fascinating books and really opened my eyes to the value of this alternative religion.
For years after coming to terms with what Satanism was, I thought that its primary benefit was to provide a sense of community and support for atheists and agnostic people. After all, part of the struggle to leave a religion can be the isolation you then find yourself in without having a place in the church amongst your family, friends, and neighbors. It also helped to keep alive the cathartic practices and rituals that humanity has partaken in throughout our history as a species.
Although I warmed up to the religion fairly quickly and easily, seeing how repulsed others were (even non-religious people, like myself, that believed in all the core values of it) made me wonder why they didn’t choose to identify themselves with a less inflammatory title. I personally love the reclaiming of the word Satanist and the way it makes religious people squirm. However, it still seemed counterproductive and unnecessarily isolating for the members in many ways.
Just yesterday, I began to fully realize the significance of holding firm in the term Satanism and specifically the church known as the Satanic Temple. I was delighted to learn that they had been granted recognition as a legitimate church and a 501(c) charitable organization with tax exempt status in 2019. Though there are certainly some problematic things about the man who founded the Satanic Temple, the mission and actions of the organization as a whole are inherently good in my opinion.
As the religious right in America slowly gains more and more traction in government, and insidiously encroaches on the rights of non-religious citizens, we are in desperate need of protection for the separation of church and state. The Satanic Temple is working to offer that protection and emphasize the hypocrisy of many Christians’ cry for “religious freedom.” The Satanic Temple organizes absolutely brilliant counter movements that shine a light on the ways Christianity often interprets freedom of religion as the freedom to push their religious beliefs onto other people.
For example the Satanic Temple was in the news for awhile due to a conflict about a ten commandments monument being erected at the Oklahoma State Capital. If one religion is going to be granted the right to display religious iconography on public grounds, every religion must be afforded that liberty. The Satanic Temple cleverly did not fight against the Christian monument. They simply donated one of their own, a statue of Baphomet. This promptly ended the discussion, and all religious monuments were banned from being placed at the capital, as is the correct response in a secular government.
Even more amazingly, I learned that the Satanic Temple has been fighting for women regarding the right to abortion. Unfortunately, regardless of the new threat of Roe v. Wade being overturned entirely, many places already enforce horrific laws restricting this right. These include forcing doctors to provide patients with scientifically inaccurate information before being able to offer them care. The Satanic Temple has objected to these unconstitutional laws by explaining that by pushing this “information” onto patients, it is violating their religious freedom as a Satanist. After all, one of their main tenets is: One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
For years it seems the left has been fighting a losing battle against the evangelical conservatives in this country. Fighting with logic and reason alone apparently does not work. Instead we must fight back on their terms, with our own, secular religion. I cannot express how utterly brilliant and effective I believe this innovative method to be. I have become so enamored with the idea and the Satanic Temple, that I am now seriously considering becoming a member myself. Either way, I will continue to sing their praises, push back against harmful stereotypes and misconceptions about the religion, and advocate for their political efforts. If you’re interested and would like to learn more, join the church, or donate to support their causes, you can find all the information you need on their website. I genuinely hope this unique movement continues to grow and fight for religious freedom, including and especially the freedom from religion that is so often overlooked. Hail Satan!