Are secularists literally using Satan to drive religion out of public schools?

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As activists push "After School Satan" programs for elementary school students, it is likely an underhanded tactic to remove all religious programs from public schools, one lawyer says.  

"What they're trying to do, I think, is scare people into saying 'let's shut down the forum'," Jordan Lorence, senior counsel for the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, told CNA. "And they would eliminate all of these Bible clubs, prayer meetings, 'Good News Clubs' that are meeting all around the country."

The Satanic Temple – a group dedicated to promoting rationalism, individual liberty, and secularism – has announced its plans to establish "After School Satan" in several U.S. public school districts.

In a fundraising pitch on its website, the temple claims that "Fundamentalist Christian organizations are trying to turn public schools into indoctrination camps for children" and are "successfully eroding the separation of Church and State."

If allowed at schools, rather than teach children Satanism, the Satan clubs would probably talk about atheism and how "science answers all questions," Lawrence said. Their adaptation of Satanic imagery and language "is just to scare people into thinking that these are actual Satan worshippers," he added.

"What I think is disingenuous and tragic is that they're really using all these Satan names for their organization, their lead guy, these after-school clubs, to scare school officials into shutting down the forum for everyone."

The Satanic Temple stated it will be "leveraging Religious Freedom laws established by decades of Evangelical litigation" to insert its curricula into schools.

Spokesman Lucien Greaves stated that "we are sure that the school districts we've approached are well aware that they are not at liberty to deny us use of their facilities, nor are they at liberty to deny us any level of representation in the schools that they afford to other school clubs."

"We would like to thank the Liberty Counsel, specifically, for opening the doors of public schools to the After School Satan Club through their dedication to religious liberty," he continued.

However, the club should have access to schools, as all religious groups have the right to meet in public spaces, Lawrence said, without the school district being seen as endorsing a particular faith group.

He gave the example of New York City's Central Park hosting a papal mass and concerts, without such events being an endorsement of beliefs by the city.

However, what is "tragic" is that the Satanic Temple is trying to drive Christianity out of the public square, he continued.

"They are basically saying that the Christian groups meeting on the same terms as everybody else are a threat to the republic," he said, and "rather than argue that in the marketplace of ideas, they are trying to scare school officials into closing the forum to eliminate the Christians."

"And that to me is tragically opposed to our First Amendment traditions of learning how to tolerate hearing views we disagree with, and responding to them with civil debate, not trying to shut them down in a coercive manner."

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