PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 17 (UPI) — Worried parents and religious groups in Portland, Ore., protested the inaugural meetings of the After School Satan Club at local elementary and middle schools, which were started as part of an effort to counter evangelical Christian after-school organizations.
The club, created by the Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple, had its first-ever meetings at Sacramento Elementary School and Parkrose Middle School. Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves said the club was created in response to the evangelical Christian Good News Club, which runs in the schools.
“We have a separation of church and state and when the school district allows one religious group to go in and that goes unquestioned by other religious groups, it does give the impression that this certain religious perspective is endorsed by the school district,” said Greaves, whose organization is non-theistic and does not believe in God or Satan.
Among those opposing the Satan club was the Roman Catholic-based American Needs Fatima organization and several parents. David Linn, a parent of a second-grader at Sacramento Elementary said neither organization should be allowed in the school.
“I think this Christian group and the Satan group should not be in this elementary school,” he said. “It’s inappropriate.”
Earlier this year, Greaves alerted school districts across the nation of the intent to start After School Satan Clubs. He said the religious organizations that operate in public schools, primarily the Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Bible-based Good News Clubs, have set a precedent for the Satan club through a 2001 U.S. Supreme Courtruling that allows religious clubs on public school campuses. After School Satan Clubs are located in cities that include Atlanta, Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City.
“All of the districts we’ve approached are nearby to local chapters of The Satanic Temple, and each school district has hosted, or is now hosting, Good News Clubs in their schools,” the organization said on its website. “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 — such as fliers, tables, brochures, and school-wide announcements.”
Greaves said the mission of the club is to give children larger views with a focus on “free inquiry and rationalism” and ” the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us.”