Victor Skinner, EAGNEWS.org
TALYORSVILLE, Utah – Students at Vista Elementary School now have new options for after school activities – the After School Satan Club.
The club is the latest to launch as part of nationwide effort by The Satanic Temple to mock Christian and other religious student organizations that work with students in public schools, and it’s open to children between the ages of 5- and 12-years-old, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
“Kids naturally have that ability to be curious and question things,” said Chalice Blythe, head of the Temple’s Utah chapter. “We’re basically just saying we should bolster that.”
Blythe contends students who join will be exposed to “academic and educational” material that does not include lessons about Satan, though the Granite School District refused to allow the Tribune’s reporters to cover an open house to kick off the club Wednesday.
District officials notified parents about the new club without announcing the name, and urged those with any concerns to address them to state lawmakers.
The letter alleges state law mandates that the district must allow private groups to rent space at public schools.
“Additionally, private rental programs and activities are NOT sponsored or endorsed by the school district,” the letter read, according to the Tribune. “If your student is approached on campus by ANY private group or rental tenant, please contact your principal immediately.”
The Satanic Temple raised a ruckus last fall when members from its Seattle chapter weighed in on a controversy surrounding Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy. Kennedy refused to end his personal ritual of praying at the 50-yard line after games, and Temple members trekked from Seattle – dressed as horned freaks – to protest his defiance. Temple members, however, were met with a stadium full of locals chanting “Jesus” in an attempt to drive them away, The Seattle Times reports.
Around the same time, in August, the Salem, Mass.-based Temple announced plans for a campaign to install the after school clubs in schools across the country.
Dozens of parents of students at Port Defiance Elementary School in Tacoma, Wash. came out to protest one of the first clubs in December despite blisteringly cold weather. Students and their parents there toted signs that read “God always, Satan never!” and prayed the Satanists would abandoned their plans, Fox Q13 reports.
“These 5-year-old children are very impressionable; if you have an adult come in and talk about Satan, they’re going to be harmed by that,” John Ritchie, spokesman for the conservative American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, told the news site.
“We are here to present more than 103,000 petitions that we gathered nationwide to call for the closing of the Satan club here,” Ritchie said.
School officials said state and federal law prohibited them from discriminating against the club, though no students signed up to participate.
Parents are also protesting the new club in Taylorsville, where Granite district spokesman told the Tribune at least one parent is already pushing to remove his child from the school.
Local religious leaders are also condemning the group’s efforts, with Child Evangelism Fellowship spokesman Moises Esteves describing the organizers of the Satan club as “very confused folk.”
“They’re compelled by their despise of God and despise of anything Christian,” he said.