The Satanic Temple says it will open 15 new chapters nationwide, as well as several internationally.
In an interview with Aleteia, Jex Blackmore, a leader of the Satanic Temple’s new Detroit chapter and a member of the group’s executive ministry team, said her organization’s view of Satan is not the same one presented in the Bible as the “Father of Lies.”
“Satan, to us, is not a deity or entity, but rather a symbol of the ultimate revolutionary iconoclast exemplified by Milton, William Blake and Anatole France,” Blackmore said, likening her group’s variety of satanism to a humanist philosophy that hopes to give its followers a sense of identity, community, and shared values.
Blackmore added that her group is a “non-theistic religious organization” that does not subscribe to “supernaturalism,” and does not participate in animal sacrifices and other rituals often attributed to satanic groups.
“Our group includes mothers and fathers, veterans, musicians, professors, entrepreneurs and students,” Blackmore continued. “We represent all different walks of life.”
The Satanic Temple, which claims to have more than 10,000 online members, including teens and seniors, was in the news recently when it attempted to organize a “black mass” at Harvard University, and then for its desire to erect a statue of Baphomet, a bearded, goat-headed pagan deity, in Oklahoma City to counter an installation of the Ten Commandments at the state capitol.
The organization, however, is not affiliated with another satanic group, the Dakhma of Angra Mainya, led by registered sex offender Adam Daniels, which is planning to perform a black mass September 21st at the Oklahoma City Civic Center.
The Satanic Temple has been outspoken about its opposition to informed consent laws for women seeking abortions, and has offered to officiate at same-sex weddings in Michigan as it works toward overturning that state’s laws that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Additionally, the Satanic Temple has held a “pink mass” ritual, which they claim is performed to turn an individual gay in the afterlife, at the grave of the late Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Jr.’s mother.
“We have slightly more females than males involved in the online community, but overall we are very diverse,” Blackmore says about her group.
“People, especially in the United States, find meaning and identity by belonging to certain groups that not everybody belongs to,” said Rev. James T. Bretzke, a Jesuit priest and professor of moral theology at Boston College. “There is always going to be a fascination with religious ritual, which you’re not going to get in everyday life, coupled with this new idea, this repackaging of rationalism under the satanic label.”
The fact that the Satanic Temple is largely an online organization suggests its popularity is rooted in the ease with which members can become connected.
“The internet makes it much easier than in the past to find information about satanism,” said Carlo Climati of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome, in a 2011 Telegraph report. “In just a few minutes you can contact satanist groups and research occultism.”
“There is a particular risk for young people who are in difficulties or who are emotionally fragile,” he added.
Climati also told Catholic News Agency that a society dominated by relativism “fosters the spread of satanism.”
Satanism “destroys those universal values that are written in the hearts of each human being,” he said. It creates “a society that is turned on its head, in which good becomes evil and evil becomes good.”
Young people, Climati continued, become overcome “by the illusion of a life that appears to be free of all rules” and by a deceptive sense of freedom that leads them “to a state of dependency and slavery.”