Originally published on Patheos, December 24, 2015
Jeremiah 10:2-4 2 Thus said the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. — American King James Version
Religious Freedom, as understood by the typical faith-deranged American, is dependent upon the unconstrained and exclusive right to proselytize and impose the Christian faith upon others. Only once you’ve understood this basic fact do the Culture Wars begin to make any sense at all. In fact, the debates concerning Gay Marriage, and the “freedom” to restrict the rights of homosexual couples, can’t be understood otherwise.
The “War on Christmas” — rather, the annual outbreak of hysterical persecution complex-driven conspiracy theories regarding secular/Satanic efforts to destroy a quintessential Christian holiday — must also be understood in this light. Surely, there are no serious efforts underway to prevent Christians from celebrating the holiday as they see fit. However, Bible-believing theocrats imagine their religious freedoms are being unconscionably abridged should they be in any way restricted from imposing their own interpretation of the holiday’s meaning, and their faith’s prescribed method of “celebration”, onto others. After all, ours is a “Christian Nation”, and preserving, proselytizing, and imposing Christian beliefs, are essential to the common Evangelical’s very practice of faith. Read more “Hail Satan and Happy Holidays”
Tonight, the City Council of Phoenix, AZ convened to consider proposed measures aimed specifically at blocking The Satanic Temple from delivering any invocations in the “open forum” of their Council Chambers.
Media reporting was often scattered and unclear regarding how, exactly, the Council intended to block the Satanic invocation but indications were that certain Council members advocated for a rotating roster of Council-approved clergy. Clearly, the idea presented a fundamental misunderstanding of First Amendment freedoms and the government’s inability to act as arbiter of “legitimate” religious expression.
Tonight’s meeting began with three-minute public comments, which were kicked off by a citizen-veteran speaking desperately in defense of pluralism and free speech, followed by a tired and unconvincing Christian reading from the Book of Isaiah asserting that there is a Constitution “higher than the United States Constitution.” A fiery older lady then took the podium to declare that “Satanism is a not a religion; it’s a cult,” without ever defining either one. The Mayor interjected to insist that all testimony regarding the invocation controversy be withheld till the Council reached that particular item on the agenda. Read more “When The Satanic Temple Brought the Apocalypse to AZ”
(09 Dec 2014) Last week, Florida’s Department of Management Services (DMS) resigned itself begrudgingly to approval of The Satanic Temple’s (TST) request to place a holiday display in the State’s Capitol Rotunda. It was the end of a year-long battle which, as spokesperson for and co-founder of The Satanic Temple, I explained to Jezebel’s Anna Merlan, began with the DMS’s refusal to host us one December ago:
The display that has been approved this year is exactly the same display that was rejected as “grossly offensive” last year. Florida’s Department of Management Services declined to comment as to what, exactly, they judged to be “grossly offensive”, and we were left to conclude that we were being subjected to blatant viewpoint discrimination. This time around we arrived with a cadre of lawyers working with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State [AU]. This apparently rendered our homemade holiday display more palatable to the DMS’s tender sensibilities. In any case, the correct decision was finally made, and we appreciate the opportunity to publicly wish a happy holiday season to all. Nobody holds a monopoly upon the season’s celebratory spirit, and we hope that our display, among the various others, will contribute to a general and growing understanding of plurality. If there is fun to be had, we’ll have it — and we wish the same for all, regardless of religious affiliation, or lack thereof.Read more “Ignorance & Uproar: Glenn Beck, Herman Cain, & the Satanic Holiday Display”
On December 30, we learned that the town council of Brookville, Indiana had voted unanimously to disallow a Nativity display that had, for the past 50 years, resided each holiday season on their county’s Courthouse lawn. This reaction was the result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of The Satanic Temple (TST) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The county had rejected our own applications for putting up displays near the Nativity, prompting the legal action.
The suit was settled, as National Law Journal explained, “with the condition that Franklin County will allow local residents and churches to erect nonreligious displays outside the courthouse.” Groups like ours only needed a local contact to file for the permit.
“Let us stand now, unbowed and unfettered by arcane doctrines born of fearful minds in darkened times. Let us embrace the Luciferian impulse to eat of the Tree of Knowledge and dissipate our blissful and comforting delusions of old. Let us demand that individuals be judged for their concrete actions, not their fealty to arbitrary social norms and illusory categorizations. Let us reason our solutions with agnosticism in all things, holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true. Let us stand firm against any and all arbitrary authority that threatens the personal sovereignty of One or All. That which will not bend must break, and that which can be destroyed by truth should never be spared its demise. It is Done. Hail Satan.”
Yesterday, Nathan Phelps, the son of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps,posted a note on Facebook claiming that his father is “on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas.” He also mentioned that Fred was excommunicated from the church in August of last year, but didn’t give any details as to why. Although the information at this point is sparse and unofficial, Westboro spokesman andRadiohead fanboy Steve Draintold the Daily News “Fred Phelps is having some health problems. He’s an old man and old people get health problems.”
In celebration of the icy hand of death caressing Fred’s gross old body, we reached out to Lucien Greaves, the leader of the Satanic Temple, who last summer performed a“Pink Mass” over the grave of Fred’s mother in order to turn her into a lesbian in the afterlife. When we spoke to him at that time, he told us, “Fred himself is getting pretty long in the tooth, and I hope to be presiding over his Pink Mass before long,” so yesterday we asked Lucien what he thought of the recent news of Fred’s demise, and if there are still plans to turn him gay after he dies. We have republished his response in full below.Read more “Eulogy for Fred Phelps”
In a press release dated September 12, 2014, The Satanic Temple (an organization I co-founded and for which I act as spokesperson) announced that it would seek to disseminate Satanic literature to students in the Orange County school district (FL), where the acting board has already allowed for the “passive distribution” of Evangelical materials. Being quite clear regarding our intentions, I stated in the press release that, “[w]e [TST] would never seek to establish a precedent of disseminating our religious materials in public schools because we believe our constitutional values are better served by respecting a strong separation of Church and State. However, if a public school board is going to allow religious pamphlets and full bibles to be distributed to students — as is the case in Orange County, Florida — we think the responsible thing to do is to ensure that these students are given access to a variety of differing religious opinions, as opposed to standing idly by while one religious voice dominates the discourse and delivers propaganda to youth.”