Just in time for back-to-school, a national group called the Satanic Temple has announced plans to launch after-school programs throughout the country, and a Cobb County elementary school is on its list of places where it’s specifically hoping to begin operations.
“Across the nation, parents are concerned about encroachments by proselytizing evangelicals in their public schools, and are eager to establish the presence of a contrasting voice that helps children to understand that one doesn’t need to submit to superstition in order to be a good person,” the Satanic Temple’s website says.
Still Elementary School in Powder Springs is on a list of schools the group is targeting and says it has approached to offer its curriculum. Cobb County school district spokeswoman Donna Lowry said the system had no idea it was on the organization’s list or how Still Elementary wound up in its sights.
“There are no Satan clubs in Cobb County schools including Still,” she said. “We have not been contacted by anyone to establish one. In no way does the school or the school district endorse Satan clubs.”
Lowry said the system drafted a statement to send to parents to make sure they were aware of the district’s stance.
“Still Elementary School does not have an after-school Satan club,” she stressed. “The staff and leaders of Still Elementary School are focused on welcoming their students and families back to school this week. Learning and student safety have been and will continue to be our top priorities.”
Parent Tina Knight sounded aghast at the idea.
“Absolutely not,” she said during an interview with Channel 2. “It sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? What parent would send their child?”
The Satanic Temple made national news last year when it announced plans to erect a statue on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol, to accompany an existing 10 Commandments monument. After the Oklahoma Supreme Court announced a decision to remove the commandments structure, the Satanic Temple decided on a new home for its statue of Baphomet, the devil in goat form. The group unveiled the statue in Detroit instead.
The after-school club idea seems aimed at school partnerships with faith-based groups.
“After School Satan clubs are based upon a uniform syllabus that emphasizes a scientific, rationalist, non-superstitious world view,” reads a statement on the group’s site, which goes on to blast evangelical teaching that it says “robs children of the innocence and enjoyment of childhood, replacing them with a negative self image, preoccupation with sin, fear of Hell, and aversion to critical thinking.”
As an alternative, “After School Satan Clubs incorporate games, projects, and thinking exercises that help children understand how we know what we know about our world and our universe,” the group says.
The endeavor caught the attention of the Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“We are already seeing the devastating effects of secularism everywhere,” he wrote in an open letter posted on his official Facebook page. “These self-proclaimed political activists are open about the fact that they’re really just trying to counter the success of Christian clubs such as the ‘Good News Clubs’ that have spread across America. They think there’s not enough separation of church and state.”
He asked his supporters to pray that school districts will refuse to allow the Satanic after-school clubs, and for Lucien Greaves, the leader of the Satanic Temple.
“Let’s pray for this man’s eyes to be opened to the truth of the Gospel and his own personal need of a Savior,” Graham wrote. “Pray for his heart to be touched and softened by the working of God’s holy spirit. No one is beyond the reach of God’s love and mercy.”