Satanic Win for Religious Freedom
January 25, 2018 11:20 PM   Subscribe

The Satanic Temple has successfully challenged part of Missouri's law requiring an ultrasound for abortions - while the case is still being heard, the Solicitor General agreed that the law only requires the woman be given the "opportunity" to hear the fetal heartbeat, and if she declines, no ultrasound is necessary. (The relevant law does not acknowledge that someone other than a woman might seek an abortion.)

TST is arguing, as they have in the past (previously), that the inform-and-delay features of the law--requiring a 72-hour delay, reading a pamphlet claiming that life begins at conception, and the until-this-point required ultrasound--violate their religious beliefs and serve no medical purpose, and therefore the law violates the Establishment Clause.

The state disagrees with their claims, but the appeals court said they have a valid case:
“Neither the Missouri Supreme Court nor the U.S. Supreme Court has considered whether a Booklet of this nature, an Ultrasound, an Audible Heartbeat Offer, and a seventy-two-hour Waiting Period violate the Religion Clause rights of pregnant women,” Missouri Supreme Court Judge Thomas Newton wrote. “Because we believe that this case raises real and substantial constitutional claims, it is within the Missouri Supreme Court’s exclusive jurisdiction.”
posted by ErisLordFreedom (62 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
HAIL SATAN!
posted by drfu at 12:27 AM on January 26, 2018 [64 favorites]


Sorry, but...

YAY SATAN! GOOD ON YOU!
posted by Samizdata at 1:46 AM on January 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


(The relevant law does not acknowledge that someone other than a woman might seek an abortion.)

Transphobic as this is, this is a hell of a legal loophole.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 2:19 AM on January 26, 2018 [14 favorites]


Hail Satan indeed.

(The relevant law does not acknowledge that someone other than a woman might seek an abortion.)

Well, if men could fall pregnant, abortion would become legal within seconds, and there would be clinics on every street corner.
posted by greenhornet at 2:25 AM on January 26, 2018 [20 favorites]


They’re doing the Lord’s work.

...

...
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:44 AM on January 26, 2018 [24 favorites]


I can guarantee that the people writing the law didn't exclude trans people out of transphobia.
posted by adept256 at 2:46 AM on January 26, 2018 [15 favorites]


From the Missouri Revised Statutes:
The printed materials shall prominently display the following statement: “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”;
This is wrong on so many levels, starting with the fact that it is scientifically invalid. Life is a continuum, the mother and father are alive. the gametes are alive, the fertilized egg is alive. Life does NOT begin at conception.

Then there is the implied anti-Semitism, rejecting my traditional Jewish belief that ensoulment is one of G-d's Mysteries, but not before the mother feels the child first move. But I suppose in Missouri, that aspect is also overlooked.
posted by mikelieman at 3:30 AM on January 26, 2018 [77 favorites]


What the hell do we even need to record gender in any official capacity?

Isn't Genus, Species, and Uniquely identifying attributes sufficient?

Gender isn't unique, but rather a self-identified demographic category. There's no reason to worry about it in the Government's context.
posted by mikelieman at 3:33 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


One day I'll join TST, because they're doing really good shit.
posted by XtinaS at 3:49 AM on January 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


Among the many frustrating things about this is that we needed half-jokey religious organization like TST and the Pastafarians to successfully oppose laws like this on grounds of violating their own rights to religion, because discrimination against Jews and Muslims is sufficiently well-entrenched in American culture that it's safer for them to stay on the sidelines and avoid giving the right-wing media even more grounds to incite violence against them, and because the atheists have the uphill battle of having to prove that the lack of religious belief is sufficient grounds for opposing the establishment of religious beliefs as law (and because, it seems, these days they'd rather engage in online circle jerks about their intellectual superiority than organize).
posted by at by at 4:21 AM on January 26, 2018 [59 favorites]


I think that's mostly a media bias. Mainstream religious lawsuits against right-wing religious law doesn't get the coverage or attention as TST and Pastafarians, who often turn the action into a publicity stunt.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:28 AM on January 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


“The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”;

A report found that 17.5 percent of Missouri women received no prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy, and Missouri has one of the worst maternal death rates in the USA, but sure, these chucklefucks care about the "unborn" from the moment of conception.
posted by threetwentytwo at 4:32 AM on January 26, 2018 [76 favorites]


You know how we have some level of a network of 'Catholic hospitals' across the US? Does this mean that we may someday soon see a chain of Satanic Abortion Clinics... because... branding?

It should be a bad sign and give someone pause when their morals give Satanists the comparative moral high ground.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:33 AM on January 26, 2018 [11 favorites]


🤘🤘
posted by SansPoint at 4:46 AM on January 26, 2018 [11 favorites]


It should be a bad sign and give someone pause when their morals give Satanists the comparative moral high ground.

Why? The TST official ethos seems pretty reasonable as a provisional moral high ground. (Full disclosure: I'm not a member but I'm wearing a TST T-shirt today.)
posted by busted_crayons at 5:03 AM on January 26, 2018 [18 favorites]


It's also the case that a lot of liberal religious groups end up pursuing legal action through "secular" organizations such as the SPLC, NAACP, and ACLU. The religious values of the plaintiffs, donors, and amicus curiae briefs usually get buried well under the lede.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:16 AM on January 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


I thought members of the Satanic Temple and Pastafarians WERE atheists who were using their pseudo-religions to prove a point?
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 5:25 AM on January 26, 2018 [11 favorites]


Well, if men could fall pregnant, abortion would become legal within seconds, and there would be clinics on every street corner.

Trans men can get pregnant. You're only talking about cisgender men, which I think it's pretty obvious ErisLordFeeedom was not

Biological gender is appropriate here, I think.

"Biological gender" is not a thing, it is not the opposite of "identified" gender and not synonym for assigned gender. Trans men are as biologically male as a cis man
posted by elsilnora at 5:51 AM on January 26, 2018 [38 favorites]


Back in the 1990's satanists were sort of obnoxious, mostly metalhead types who just got off on the supposed shock value.

If you'd told me back then that in 2018 the Satanic Temple would be at the tip of the spear on virtually every important church/state issue I'd have laughed in your face.

And yet, here we are, with the satanists doing seriously good work.

Go Satan?
posted by sotonohito at 6:06 AM on January 26, 2018 [20 favorites]


Now for some real excitement, let's give the aliens a copy of the New Testament, and a list of tenets (but no identifying names) of the Catholic Church and the Satanic Temple, and have them decide which list belongs to the guys rooting for Jesus.
posted by Mayor West at 6:11 AM on January 26, 2018 [27 favorites]


Back in the 1990's satanists were sort of obnoxious, mostly metalhead types who just got off on the supposed shock value.

This comes up every time, but TST are basically liberals who've realized that they can use the First Amendment as a weapon against Christian conservatives. They're not really tied to the Church of Satan or anybody like that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:17 AM on January 26, 2018 [24 favorites]


Biological gender is appropriate here, I think. It's still food for thought in the multi-gender debate

absolutely wrong but wrong in a very normie/basic kind of way

there is 1) no such thing as biological gender, gender is a cultural construct made up of performative behaviors, appearances, etc and 2) biological sex is vastly more fluid than people give it credit for since it's not just limited to sex organs and chromosomal type

gender and sex are one of those Dunning-Kruger / privilege things where most people assume they they know everything about it since they think they know their own identity and biology so well, not realizing how much they don't know about themselves and how much they don't know about the entire population of human beings. like, for example, at this very moment, do you have any clue what your hormonal profile is? your estrogen and testosterone levels? how about relative to a normal distribution of the population in your neighborhood? your city? the world? and does your place on the x-axis of that graph define who you are? how you should be treated, both by society and medicine?
posted by runt at 6:28 AM on January 26, 2018 [48 favorites]


Hey, if Christians want to wield "Religious Freedom" as a weapon to do harm, good on TST for wielding it as a weapon to start to undo some of that.
posted by xedrik at 6:31 AM on January 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


For reference for any future Missouri Supreme Court arguments, they are live streamed from the court's website. Though, don't plan a rigid schedule around listening to a specific case unless it's at the front of the docket - time slippage is a thing.

Here's the recording of the argument, too, if anyone wants to listen.

Another tidbit of info, the Solicitor General, John Sauer, is an attorney who's background was made in arguing appeals on conservative legal theories. When Republican Josh Hawley (who was just told by a federal judge to "Do your job,") was elected as part of the Trump wave of ruining our nation (This was also when Mo Governor Eric Greitens was elected - currently being investigated for blackmail by St. Louis prosecutor and corruption by the FBI), he plucked Mr. Sauer out to be the state's Solicitor General. In brief, for arguing this type of case, Sauer is allegedly had an excellent background to do so, thus his admission via argument is a pretty good score.
posted by Atreides at 6:39 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


That DeadState link appears to be...dead.
posted by JohnFromGR at 6:58 AM on January 26, 2018


I guess no stone left unturned but gender spectrum equality in reproductive rights suppression is honestly the most batshit battle I've ever seen or can conceive of.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:04 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Seems to me like making sure reproductive rights apply to everyone who can potentially reproduce is pretty much a no-brainer.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:12 AM on January 26, 2018 [31 favorites]


Wow. I just read the text of that anti-choice bill. It is odious and vile.
posted by JohnFromGR at 7:13 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


I get irrationally annoyed at pregnant people when they talk about their "gender reveal" events. You may know the sex of the baby, but you're not gonna know their gender for a while.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:48 AM on January 26, 2018 [24 favorites]


I think those people feel saying "gender" is less squicky than saying "sex".
posted by glitter at 8:10 AM on January 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


This comes up every time, but TST are basically liberals who've realized that they can use the First Amendment as a weapon against Christian conservatives. They're not really tied to the Church of Satan or anybody like that.

Yes, this. Here's a handy reference:

Church of Satan: Dimestore Halloween-spooky Randians, founded by a literal con man, have been completely irrelevant in religious discussions for decades.

The Satanic Temple: Closer to Discordian than Satanist, use their status as a religious org to pwn Christian extremism, once turned Fred Phelp's mom gay in the afterlife.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:37 AM on January 26, 2018 [34 favorites]


I get irrationally annoyed at pregnant people when they talk about their "gender reveal" events. You may know the sex of the baby, but you're not gonna know their gender for a while.

I hope somebody holds one of these parties and slices open the cake to reveal a torrent of M&Ms in every possible color. "Haha," cries the proud parent-to-be, "gender is a social construct, you fools!"
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:59 AM on January 26, 2018 [62 favorites]


Dead State link on the wayback machine.

And while CoS and TST are indeed different orgs with different agendas, and the CoS is mostly defunct and had a much higher asshole quotient than the TST - I suspect that if TST wanted to avoid confusion between them, they'd've picked either a different name or different look-and-feel to their website.

They're not the same, but I believe TST is using the shock-value awareness of CoS to capture media attention - "hey guys, you've been hearing about that Satan religious group for decades... here's the newest one."

This isn't their first win - they got Bell Plains, Minnesota to rescind its plans to have a "religious free speech" zone in a park, allowing religious groups to post monuments. TST proposed a veteran's monument that would have raised no eyebrows at all if their name weren't associated with it. (It did have downward-pointing stars on the sides, but most people wouldn't even notice if it weren't called to their attention.) The park decided to remove the Christian monuments that had been approved rather than let the Satanists also use public space.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:13 AM on January 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


I suspect the hardest time they're going to have with the legal argument is, "what good will changing the law do for your client? She's had her abortion; how will this help her?"

Legal challenges for any relief other than money require a justification; the suggested action has to help the victim. Arguing that the change will help other victims in the future is very thin--you have to prove that there will be other victims who will be harmed by the law.

I'd love to see an argument that they caused her emotional and spiritual trauma; they need to provide her spiritual relief: removal of deistic theology from the law that forced her compliance with another religion. This would have the additional benefit of protecting women of many religions that disagree with portions of the law.

It might help their case if they could find people of other religions to argue that "life begins at conception" is a violation of their religious beliefs.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:23 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Aya Hirano: I'm not much of a joiner, but If I had to join up with a religion, I'd sign on to TST. They seem a lot more fun than the OTO types I've known, and lot more organized and active than the Discordians or the SubGenii (the latter of which I am a member, but not active).
posted by SansPoint at 9:31 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Seems to me like making sure reproductive rights apply to everyone who can potentially reproduce is pretty much a no-brainer.

Yes: I phrased my point badly. I found the mention that "The relevant law does not acknowledge that someone other than a woman might seek an abortion" was an odd moment of outrage. Spoiler: I'm pretty sure they meant "anyone capable of getting pregnant" but if you legally fall outside of womanhood, I'm pretty sure that's not a bus you want to be getting on in the name of parity. "How dare you persecute only the cisnormative! I demand equal suppression for all!"
posted by Ogre Lawless at 9:53 AM on January 26, 2018


"How dare you persecute only the cisnormative! I demand equal suppression for all!"

I don't think pregnant people who do not ID as female will be exempt from this type of oppression. Instead their existence is not acknowledged at all. Being trans isn't a "get your reproductive healthcare free from hassle!" card.
posted by Emmy Rae at 10:06 AM on January 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


I was thinking more that a trans man could insist that he didn't need to read the pamphlet or deal with the delay, as the law only applies to women seeking abortions.

I added the note because I'd first started to say, "the person seeking an abortion must be given..." and then looked up the law - and no, it specifically mentions "the woman," and phrasing like that has been used to challenge laws in the past. A law that requires women to undergo a hardship but does not require the same from men, is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:06 AM on January 26, 2018 [11 favorites]


Good job Satanists!
posted by medusa at 10:11 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


If I'm reading this right, Missouri requires gender confirmation surgery for legal recognition, although there might be exceptions.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:36 AM on January 26, 2018


One of the documents accepted to establish gender in Missouri is a US passport, which no longer requires surgery - "Under this policy, a transgender person can obtain a passport reflecting his or her current gender by submitting a certification from a physician confirming that he or she has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:42 AM on January 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


If that's been MO's position all along, that's not a win.
posted by jpe at 10:45 AM on January 26, 2018


While I hope this lawsuit manages to kill the law, I really want to make a variant of the "required pamphlet" that includes all the claims that are legally required, and then debunks everyone of them, whether that's this state's pamphlet or one of the other ones.

The law says the woman has to be given this info; it doesn't say that she can't be given additional information.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:53 AM on January 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


It might help their case if they could find people of other religions to argue that "life begins at conception" is a violation of their religious beliefs.


These folks might be able to help (Linked site NSFW).
posted by Slinga at 10:59 AM on January 26, 2018


Parker Molloy on Twitter: This is how all gender reveal parties should go, tbh
posted by Lexica at 11:39 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


lot more organized and active than the Discordians

I don't know that "organized" has never really been an adjective one would apply to Discordians. I mean, I'm a Pope myself, and I don't know where any of my vestments are. I'm not even sure what they look like.
posted by curiousgene at 11:49 AM on January 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


curiousgene: I don't know that "organized" has never really been an adjective one would apply to Discordians.

That's the joke.
posted by SansPoint at 12:10 PM on January 26, 2018


I think those people feel saying "gender" is less squicky than saying "sex".

Yes, I'm certain you're correct, but terms get less squicky the more they're used. I remember when you couldn't say "penis" on television.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:11 PM on January 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


> SansPoint:
"Aya Hirano: I'm not much of a joiner, but If I had to join up with a religion, I'd sign on to TST. They seem a lot more fun than the OTO types I've known, and lot more organized and active than the Discordians or the SubGenii (the latter of which I am a member, but not active)."

Also, a SubGenii.

But, if you can, for a second, see the logical fallacy in your statement. Are you complaining the Discordians are not organized enough?
posted by Samizdata at 12:23 PM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


The government doesn't recognize the Discordians, but that's only fair since the converse is also true.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:23 PM on January 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


At one point I was working on legally-recognized Discordian church. (I suppose technically I still am; it's not like I've gotten rid of any of the documentation.) (Or, also technically, I suppose I *have* a legally recognized Discordian church; I just haven't had any need to get it acknowledged by anyone outside of my pack of friends, associates, and a few mutuals on tumblr.)

Turns out, the process of becoming a legal church in the US is... bizarre. I mean, Discordians could never have come up with this stuff; we'd be positive that nobody would accept it because it's too weird. The whole system has less foundation in real-world facts than Bitcoin and is mostly a matter of waving around the right magic words and a fascinating game of tax chicken which, if the church loses, it will be required to pay moneys... but not lose its church status. Feel free to memail for extensive and hilarious details.

The current shenanigans with TST have a solid foundation in the erosion of common-sense arguments against religious dogma as gov't policy, supported by right-wingers who really can't comprehend that "religion" doesn't mean "Christianity" and that "religious differences" don't end with "the baptized vs the atheists."

By solidifying a claim that "the board of directors thinks contraceptives are immoral" as a valid business premise, they opened up the courts to claims of "X is immoral according to my religion and therefore it's a violation of the 1st Amendment to make me have anything to do with it."

And either way, the precedent will help fight religious bigotry enshrined in law. If we win - yay, strong blow against religious blocks to abortions. If we lose - suddenly, all the claims of "I shouldn't have to follow this law because it's against my faith" will face arguments that say, "that's not enough."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:46 PM on January 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


This wasn't a win at all. The Satanic Temple folks are a bunch of carnival barking PR hucksters, and it's funny that everyone fell all over themselves to congratulate them for this non-win.

Turns out, the process of becoming a legal church in the US is... bizarre

Since there's no formal process, this comment strikes me as......bizarre.
posted by jpe at 3:14 PM on January 26, 2018


The win here is a formal statement that the ultrasound isn't required if the woman doesn't want it. This is both a matter of, "yay, she can't be forced to undergo an annoying and sometimes frightening procedure that requires her to see and hear things she doesn't want or need to be exposed to," and, "she doesn't have to pay for the procedure," which was being required for some.

There is indeed no formal process for becoming a church. There is a process that the IRS wants churches to follow, but they grumblingly put up with churches that don't -- at least, they do now, after a number of lawsuits in the 70's by non-Christian churches that they initially denied tax-exempt status to.

But the range of formal documentation that's permitted in churches is still bizarre. They're organizations that have a legally-recognized existence and purpose, so you'd think there'd be rules about how that works. Instead, it's the most delightfully Discordian part of the US gov't process I've ever seen.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:48 PM on January 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


Can we please acknowledge that trans men exist, can get pregnant, have issues accessing medical care, particularly when they are or may be pregnant and not go googling what changing your documents involves? It's feeling very much like speculating with other people's lives for your own amusement, which is not so cool.
posted by hoyland at 8:10 PM on January 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


ErisLordFreedom: "The park decided to remove the Christian monuments that had been approved rather than let the Satanists also use public space."

Which is the whole reason TST mounts these challenges. Someone has to come along and not only say "this is an offensive use of government resources"; they have to prove that the people enacting the "equal protection will be afforded to all religions" policy aren't actually acting in good faith.
posted by Mitheral at 9:43 PM on January 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


This wasn't a win at all. The Satanic Temple folks are a bunch of carnival barking PR hucksters, and it's funny that everyone fell all over themselves to congratulate them for this non-win.

Having been a member of the Temple for a while, and, you know, having my partner who has been a Temple Satanist for nearly a decade...

No. No, you are wrong. You're wrong that the Temple members don't take these beliefs seriously. (I do, for one thing; so does everyone I've met in the Austin groups.) We have the Tenets in a poster on our wall; we have a little Baphomet shrine not three feet from where I'm currently sitting. (My household currently all have our official memberships because we felt good sending the money to the main group, knowing it will go to causes like this.) I can name every single one of our tenets and nod, slowly, and say I deeply believe this and I believe it with feeling. This is my sincere religious belief. It does not have to be theistic to be sincere.

(And I'd argue the Satanic Temple folks I know are a bit more serious about their religious beliefs being beliefs than the Pastafarian and Discordian people I've met, although this may have to do with the explicitly political bent of the Temple, in the sense that we know full well that sincerity is a qualifying aspect of a religion--and the Tenets are based in sincere ethical and moralistic principles for a reason.)

You are wrong that the point being made by the Temple, that religious freedom does not only apply to conservative assholes, is not an important and valid point. The best way through the "religious freedom" acts is by pointing out that religious freedom must apply to all citizens, not only a chosen few. Atheists and secular humanists and freethinkers are defined as "without religion" and not protected under these laws, which is why they have become so popular among the religious Right, and more liberal religious sects have not chosen to fight them on religious grounds.

So we have. That is important. You can tell me this isn't a fucking win when you show me an organized group of any other religion standing up for bodily integrity of individuals in the courts. You think the Temple is carnival PR hucksters? Fine. You fucking get your church in order--if you have one--and you destabilize this pretentious religious belief that conservative and ascientific loons are the only people with the access to sincere religious beliefs that govern abortion law.

You do it. Then you can sneer at us.
posted by sciatrix at 7:08 AM on January 27, 2018 [39 favorites]


(Mind you, ELF can obviously school me on the Discordian side of things; you'd have more experience on that than me by a country mile.)

For more on the distinctions between the Church of Satan (assholes) and the Satanic Temple (my kind of folks), incidentally, I'll refer folks to this comment of mine a year or so ago. Here, again, are the Satanic Temple's actual tenets:
1. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
2. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
3. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
4. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
5. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
6. People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
7. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.
Fuck yes, I am sincere in my belief in each and every one of them, and I am pleased to use them as guiding principles as I conduct my ethical and moral life. Hucksters, my ass.

(Re Satanic Temple relationship to Church of Satan, it's definitely true that the Satanic Temple is using the shock value of "SATAN" to horrify conservatives, but my experience is that everyone associated with the Satanic Temple kind of bends over backwards to differentiate themselves from the CoS. They both actually do come from the same original doctrinal place in LaVey Satanism, but Lucien Greaves is not a particular fan of the CoS and has taken a very different approach to the original ideas and updated them significantly for modern ethics.)
posted by sciatrix at 7:12 AM on January 27, 2018 [20 favorites]


A few more notable things about the Temple and I'll stop:

-More on the Satanic Temple's view on other Satanist groups via the FAQ:
HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SATANIC ORGANIZATIONS?
Many Satanic organizations focus on pointless and misguided efforts to establish a monopoly on a vision of the one ‘true’ Satanism. This obsession with ownership has fomented an unfortunate culture in which Satanism’s most vitriolic critics are often self-identified Satanists.

The Satanic Temple is not interested in establishing itself as the sole arbiter of Satanic practice. Rather, we are open to working with other self-identified Satanic organizations to promote general recognition of Satanic legitimacy.

While many Satanic organizations seem to revel in superfluous hierarchies while isolating themselves in petty organizational autocracy, the Satanic Temple eschews rigid, centralized authority and focuses its efforts on effecting tangible constructive change. We believe in building a politically active Satanic movement and invite others to join us in these efforts.

HOW DOES TST’S SATANISM DIFFER FROM LAVEYAN SATANISM?
TST has its own guiding principles and tenets, distinct from the LaVeyan school, that we feel represents a natural evolution in Satanic thought. The overriding principle calls for utilizing the best scientific evidence available to make the most rational real world decisions. To that end, we reject LaVeyan social Darwinist rhetoric that fails to agree with what is currently known regarding social evolution, specifically as it relates to research in evolutionary biology, game theory, reciprocal altruism, cognitive science, etc.

TST also strongly rejects the LaVeyan fetishization of authoritarianism. We believe this is antithetical to Satanic notions of individual sovereignty. Further, while LaVeyan Satanism is atheistic — in that it rejects the notion that Satan is a conscious entity — it is still supernaturalist. TST does not forward supernatural theories of the universe and finds little value in LaVeyan edicts such as those that instruct one to “acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.” (From the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth, Anton LaVey)
-Incidentally, their "About Us" section prioritizes their guide for effective protest over the quick introduction to Lucien Greaves, the main temple founder. This seems entirely in character for them, especially because the organization as a whole is very, very careful about what kinds of protests happen in their name (as I know from experience working with the Austin chapter). The guidelines themselves are, I think, rather well thought out and useful for anyone currently trying to achieve change.

-The Satanic Temple believes that religious donations should not be tax-deductible, and therefore has deliberately not sought status as a tax-exempt religious organization with the IRS in accordance with those beliefs. They do have a non-profit entity associated with the temple (Reason Alliance) which helps with providing grants for some of the programs, like the After-School Satan Program, the Religious Reproductive Rights abortion access funds, and challenges on legal corporal punishment. As best I can figure, the founders of the Temple set up Reason Alliance because people kept bugging them for somewhere to donate to that was tax-exempt, since the Temple itself is not. Reason Alliance is also not incorporated as a religion.

-I went to the site to check on some of these things and I found out they're selling rainbow TST patches and pins as well as the older Venus-themed stuff that is designed to support the Religious Reproductive Rights fund. (You can donate to specific funds for things the church is trying to do and they'll earmark that donation for those causes, basically, which is a thing I like about them.) I... this seems dangerous.

Really dangerous.

I can't put the stickers on my laptop because it's for work, but I could wear a lapel pin...

oh no.
posted by sciatrix at 7:48 AM on January 27, 2018 [12 favorites]


And I'd argue the Satanic Temple folks I know are a bit more serious about their religious beliefs being beliefs than the Pastafarian and Discordian people I've met

Probably as you'd expect, I'd describe the Discordian position as "complicated" on that front, since dividing things into serious/not serious is a set of ideas about reality that a Discordian may or may not choose to adopt at any given time, for health reasons.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:11 PM on January 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


Atheists and secular humanists and freethinkers are defined as "without religion" and not protected under these laws

I'm don't know that this is true and it's not constructive to spread a message that non-religious people are not entitled to First Amendment protections. It's certainly easier if you have an established religious organization to point to, but US v Seeger feels relevant here.
posted by hoyland at 8:33 AM on January 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Evangelical Christians like to claim that humanists and atheists have no religion and therefore have no 1st amendment protections against religious discrimination. This is slippery to argue against in court, because the nature of religion is, by Constitutional law, illegal to pin down.

(Occasionally the xians argue that atheists and humanists do have a religion, and that they're illegally promoting it under the guise of secular education standards. Truly, their ability to bypass cognitive dissonance is awe-inspiring; many Discordians have to study for years to be able to hold that many directly contradictory opinions at once.)

TST offers them a foundation for solid religious claims for lawsuits: an organization whose principles are founded on founded on fancied-up language for Bill & Ted's "Be Excellent To Each Other," and a name that's guaranteed to catch attention and bring the most fanatic religious bigots to the fight. Even the ones who believe that it'd be okay to have multi-faith prayers before city council meetings or multi-faith statues near the courthouse will demand that anything calling itself Satanist not be given gov't-sanctioned space.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:57 AM on January 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


today I went into work with the intention of getting a lot of work done. that happened and also I have a newfound respect for the Satanic Temple

to quote John Darnielle for a minute:

when you punish a person for dreaming his dream,
don't expect him to thank or forgive you.
the best ever death metal band out of Denton
will in time both outpace and outlive you.
hail Satan!
hail Satan tonight!
hail Satan!
hail hail!

posted by runt at 11:57 AM on January 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


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