Read More Atheist Republic An after-school program in California elementary school sparks controversy.
According to local reports, an after-school program scheduled for early December at a California elementary school received severe criticism. The “After School Satan Club” project aims to teach students about inquiry and rationalism. Some guardians and parents claimed that this shouldn’t be allowed.
Students at Golden Hills Elementary School will be getting the “After School Satan Club,” sponsored by the Satanic Temple and Reason Alliance. The Satanic Temple is a non-theistic religious organization, not to be confused with the Church of Satan.https://t.co/8taPUrvNlT
— KOKH FOX 25 (@OKCFOX) November 19, 2022
The Satanic Temple (TST), the sponsor of the After School Satan Clubs, is a nontheistic religious organization. The headquarters of the organization is located in Salem, Massachusetts. TST believes that the government should remain neutral toward all religions and not officially recognize or favor any particular religion.
TST and other religious groups gather near select public schools for various after-school program projects. An example of an after-school program is the “Good News Club,” hosted by the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) to preach the gospel and share the message and teachings of Jesus Christ to children.
June Everett, an After School Satan Club campaign director, said that the After School Satan Club is set to begin on December 5th, 2022, at Tehachapi’s Golden Hills Elementary School. According to the official Satanic Temple website, the After School Satan Clubs were brought upon the requests of local parents, educators, and other community members. A few months ago, Everett added that a parent asked TST to create a club that will gather once a month through May 2023.
“The fact that others find our club controversial when they have absolutely no issues with the other religious clubs operating in their public school is puzzling to us,” said Everett, an ordained minister with The Satanic Temple.
Stacey Larson-Everson, the Tehachapi Unified School District Superintendent, wrote a letter on November 15th stating that the After School Satan Club received approval from the district to host gatherings after school hours in the elementary school’s cafeteria.
Based on viewpoint, the district does not support discrimination among groups wishing to use its facilities or distribute flyers in accordance with the law, said Larson-Everson. Over the years, the district has allowed renting its facilities to religious groups for club activities, the Superintendent noted.
After School Satan Clubs exist in public schools because of the ruling that took place in 2001 in the Good News Club v. Milford Central School case, the US Supreme Court decided that schools cannot discriminate against religious organizations offering a club on its facilities.
Sheila Knight, whose grandchild is a fifth grader at Golden Hills, criticized the decision and called the After School Satan Club disgusting. “I understand the school by law has to allow them because they allow other after-school programs such as the Good News … but I can’t imagine why anyone would want their child to attend,” she said.
While another woman said, “Just the name alone,’ Satanic Temple,’ is negative, and these elementary kids don’t need that.”
At an elementary school!Parents are outraged that a California elementary school is allowing an ‘After School Satan Club’ on campus where there are children as young as five years old. Golden Hills Elementary, in Tehachapi, in Kern County.https://t.co/EFTn8IrRwV
— Bart Marcois (@bmarcois) November 21, 2022
The administrators of the Tehachapi Raves and Rants Facebook group reportedly disabled comments at least once to sleep peacefully, as they could not handle the controversy after the news of the club was circulated on social media.
Paul Hicks, a volunteer of the After School Satan Club, said that the existence of the Good News Club created the necessity of having the After School Satan Club in public schools to provide an alternative viewpoint. “I’m not teaching these kids that they need to hail Satan or identify as Satanists. What we’re doing is we’re thinking critical thinking, we’re teaching science, we’re teaching empathy,” Hicks said.
The Satanic Temple (TST) was founded in 2013 and is often confused with the Church of Satan, which believes in Satanism. TST does not worship Satan because they don’t consider Satan supernatural. Instead, it believes that “Satan is a literary figure that represents a metaphorical construct of rejecting tyranny over the human mind and spirit,” as stated on the official website.
According to the Satanic Temple, the presence of religious after-school clubs “not only established a precedent for which school districts must now accept Satanic groups, but the evangelical after-school clubs have created the need for Satanic after-school clubs to offer a contrasting balance to student’s extracurricular activities.”