Hail Satan?
May 18, 2019 8:37 PM   Subscribe

What is religion? There's not a convenient or easy answer.

Hail Satan? a new documentary by director Penny Lane looks at the Satanic Temple (Previously) and how they bridge the line between religion and trolling.

Trailer (somewhat NSFW).

The documentary centers primarily around two different displays of the Ten Commandments on government grounds in Oklahoma and Arkansas that they attempted to get removed (success in Oklahoma, not so much in Arkansas). Previously - interesting factoid on some ten commandments statues.

Though they have stayed mostly silent recently in regards to the recent attacks on women's rights in the US, some are calling for them to jump into the fray, including a Christian minister.


And please, don't confuse them with the Church of Satan.
posted by aloiv2 (23 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Oh I cannot wait for this!!
posted by greermahoney at 8:40 PM on May 18

Ugh...***The Satanic Temple. Not Temple of Satan. So much for proofreading this ten times.
posted by aloiv2 at 8:41 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]

[fixed that]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:43 PM on May 18 [6 favorites]

The tweet from the Christian minister:
Prediction: A law suit by The Satanic Temple on the basis of religious freedom will put an end to the draconian anti-abortion law.
From his mouth to satan’s ears!
posted by greermahoney at 8:45 PM on May 18 [16 favorites]

I have long believed that trolling and other semi-satanic things have a potential of good. For certain definitions of good.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:47 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:05 PM on May 18 [16 favorites]

Great concept, good documentary, 30 minutes too long.
posted by fairmettle at 12:59 AM on May 19

I have that T-shirt the guy is wearing at 1:54. Something about a unicorn and the slogan "Hail Satan" is just hilarious.

Where do I get the horns?
posted by lordrunningclam at 5:41 AM on May 19

I went to see the documentary a week ago at a Landmark theater. Good documentary. Lucien, the founder of TST, is an awesome, but also probably quite infuriating dude to work directly with.

The film did make me want to join up. And I'm already a UU/independent Taoist (not affiliated with any temple).
posted by kalessin at 6:14 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]

A woman on why she left the Satanic Temple -- basically, she felt they weren't doing enough to hear out its members that were queer, women and/or people of color.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 8:55 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]

>What is religion?

I know it when I see it?
posted by flug at 9:24 AM on May 19

Card carrying member of the Satanic Temple checking in! Either we have religious freedom or we don't. Call us trolls, call us provoceteurs, hell call us insincere (we kind of are depending on your perspective, but only as insincere as your average religious person). But you can't call us wrong.
posted by East14thTaco at 9:51 AM on May 19 [16 favorites]

Where do I get the horns?
Canonically, “if you mess with the bull you get the horns.”

This has nothing to do with the thread topic, but in the spirit of inquiry and all...
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 12:30 PM on May 19

So as someone raised Orthodox Christian who finally admitted his atheism rather late in life, I often think on why. It's trite, but basic theodicy leads me to a gnostic interpretation of theism. That is: if the metaphysics of the religion I grew up in were true, it would necessarily lead to the Abrahamic god being the villain of the story.

I appreciate the raw dionysian fun in the leverage that all of the occult/metal/burlesque trappings give you. I understand how part of the reason to Hail Satan is to express your lack of fear in the face of a Christianist ruling class. I just wish there were a better place for an opposition philosophy that doesn't wear the trappings of the oppressor's lies so brazenly.

And yet every time I think this, I go back to Milton. Moloch speaks in book 2 of Paradise Lost, outlining his strategy for the fallen angels after having been so brutally tortured:
No! let us rather choose,
Armed with Hell-flames and fury, all at once
O'er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way,
Turning our tortures into horrid arms
Against the Torturer; when, to meet the noise
Of his almighty engine, he shall hear
Infernal thunder, and, for lightning, see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among his Angels, and his throne itself
Mixed with Tartarean sulfur and strange fire,
His own invented torments.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:28 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]

I'd strongly recommend watching the documentary if you have the chance. The Satanic Temple is extraordinarily aware and intentional about using the trappings that they do. I don't know for certain if folks in The Satanic Temple feel this way, but personally, I've always liked Neil Gaiman's ideas about Lucifer/The Lightbringer kind of being the one who got screwed over by the Christian God.

For a lot of us, the mythology and symbolism is not as binary or clear cut as even Milton (and I know Paradise Lost is a complex piece of literature, for sure) would have us consider. The Satanic Temple uses trolling as one of its tools for spiritual and cultural development, and is clearly a force for democracy against the Religious Right in these times. I think with Trump in ascendance in the US, and fascism experiencing a rise in a lot of the rest of the worlr, we need The Satanic Temple and like minded folks to challenge and balance that.

Also, I'm a bit over 50 years old. I don't know about you, but a lot of my life's joys so far have been earned by hard work and indecision and anxiety and suffering (though I'm getting much better at overcoming and persevering). The devil described as a torturer and tormentor? Not as scary to me as the prospect of religious persecution and censure for not believing in the right god.
posted by kalessin at 2:42 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]

Saw this at the Ashland Independent Film Festival, it was hilarious and wonderful.
posted by moons in june at 4:21 PM on May 19

Another TST person checking in! There's also a Fanfare thread if anyone wants to discuss it there. I'm interested to see how the organization handles the sudden new influx of interest and inquiry into membership - one of the things that I think Penny Lane really tries to convey in the documentary but that doesn't come across super strongly is that TST is for Satanists by Satanists. Its activism is at its core a religious practice, as is everything else they do. (One of the individuals in the Q&A after my local screening called Satanism "a coming home" in almost exactly the same terminology Christian churches use.) I'm curious to see what happens with an influx of people who want the activism but know little or nothing about the philosophy start turning up at local chapters.

I just wish there were a better place for an opposition philosophy that doesn't wear the trappings of the oppressor's lies so brazenly.

I am the rare Satanist for whom this does not apply, but many of the lovely Satanists I know come from deeply, deeply fucked up religious backgrounds of all stripes. Their blasphemy is very deliberate, very cultivated, and, for them, a tremendous expression of their own personal power. It's much, much more than a simple expression of anti-theocratic sentiment (although it's that, too.) I personally often bemoan that there aren't as many Satanic rituals for people like me -- people who want their Satanism as a stand-alone without the Christian trappings -- but the reasons people perform Black Masses and wear upside-down crosses are usually, uh, a lot more personal than one would expect.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:59 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]

Though they have stayed mostly silent recently in regards to the recent attacks on women's rights in the US, some are calling for them to jump into the fray, including a Christian minister.

Also I think this is a bit of a shitty mischaracterization - TST is so small overall that the only real hammer they can wield their religious status and the only nail they can hit is the court system. They're well known for their reproductive justice efforts, but court systems take time -- first you have to find a plaintiff, then a lawyer in that state who's willing to work for something named "The Satanic Temple", etc., etc. Plus, I think they know that Planned Parenthood & the ACLU have a close eye on the fight in Georgia and Alabama, and that their efforts might be better spent elsewhere in areas that do not have such high profile support. Individual members are distraught about this (in fact, the most noise from male allies I've seen about reproductive rights this past month has been from TST leadership folks) but there isn't much that TST as an org can do with the resources they have right now. That might change in the future, going forward -- suffice it to say everyone I interact with is keenly aware of the problem.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:34 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]

Hail Satan indeed
posted by greenhornet at 12:51 AM on May 20

What is religion?

The... opiate of the masses?
posted by prepmonkey at 7:51 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

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