School District Defends ‘After School Satan Club’ for 1st-5th Graders: ‘Equal Access’

pledge classroom students
William Thomas Cain/Getty

The Moline-Coal Valley School District in Illinois released a statement Tuesday defending a flyer that surfaced advertising an “After School Satan Club” for children in grades one through five, claiming the decision to allow the group rested on “equal access.”

The district’s After School Satan Club is scheduled to hold its first meeting Thursday, from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m., a KWQC TV6 report said.

The report provided the school district’s statement about the club:

The Moline-Coal Valley School District understands that there is concern and confusion over an upcoming after-school club at Jane Addams elementary.

The District would like to provide information on the situation. The Moline-Coal Valley School District and Board of Education have policies and administrative procedures in place which allow for community use of its publicly funded facilities outside the school day.

The district does not discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religious-affiliated groups. Religiously affiliated groups are among those allowed to rent our facilities for a fee.

The district has, in the past, approved these types of groups, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism fellowship group. Flyers and promotional materials for these types of groups are approved for lobby posting or display only, and not for mass distribution.

Students or parents are then able to pick up the flyer from the lobby, if they so choose, which is aligned to District policy. Please note that the district must provide equal access to all groups and that students need parental permission to attend any after-school event. Our focus remains on student safety and student achievement.

Superintendent Rachel Savage also shared on the district’s website:

To illegally deny their organization (viewpoint) to pay to rent our publicly funded institution, after school hours, subjects the district to a discrimination lawsuit, which we will not win, likely taking thousands upon thousands of tax-payer dollars away from our teachers, staff, and classrooms.

As Breitbart News reported in March 2017, Judicial Watch obtained documents that showed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) fast-tracked tax-exempt status for an “After School Satan Club” in Tacoma, Washington, while the federal agency was discovered to be either denying conservative and Christian groups the same status or delaying a response to them for years at a time.

The report noted:

According to the watchdog group that uncovered the IRS scandal during the Obama administration, the After School Satan Club at Point Defiance Elementary in Tacoma applied for its tax-exempt status designation on October 21, 2014 and received it only 10 days later on October 31, 2014.

The Satanic Temple’s (TST) website page titled “Educatin’ with Satan,” says its club program “is an after school program that promotes self-directed education by supporting the intellectual and creative interests of students.”

TST, which largely operates as a pro-abortion rights organization, adds:

The After School Satan Clubs meet at select public schools where Good News Clubs also operate. Trained educators provide activities and learning opportunities, which students are free to engage in, or they may opt to explore other interests that may be aided by available resources. The environment is open and parents are welcome to participate. While the classes are designed to promote intellectual and emotional development in accordance with TST’s tenets, no proselytization or religious instruction takes place.

“Proselytization is not our goal, and we’re not interested in converting children to Satanism,” TST informs. “After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us.”

“We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors,” TST adds.

In its sharp criticism of “Good News Clubs,” TST asserts the clubs:

…are an after school program established by an insidious organization known as the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) whose stated mission is to ‘evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living.’

TST cites “an analysis” of “Good News Clubs” from 2011 by a group known as Intrinsic Dignity that states:

… the program places “a heavy emphasis on sin (~5000 mentions), obedience (>1000 mentions), punishment (~1000 mentions), and hell (>250 allusions, including 52 direct uses of the word “Hell”). Children are told, in very personal terms, that they are sinful, wicked, deceitful, and deserving of punishment, death, and an eternity of suffering in hell.” The Good News Clubs strive to train children to evangelize to other children to bring them to their religious thinking.

In December, TST unveiled an installation in the Illinois Capitol rotunda that showcased its “deity,” Baphomet, a winger goat creature, displayed as a babe swaddled in a manger.

The group announced in April 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had recognized it as a “church” with tax-exempt status.

The organization said:

This acknowledgment will help make sure The Satanic Temple has the same access to public spaces as other religious organizations, affirm our standing in court when battling religious discrimination, and enable us to apply for faith-based government grants.

Despite its designation as a “church,” TST is non-religious and states on its FAQ page that it does not worship Satan:

[N]or do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural. The Satanic Temple believes that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. Satanists should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.

Rolling Stone reported that while TST had previously rejected the idea of pursuing tax-exempt status, Greaves reversed that position in 2017 after President Donald Trump signed a “religious freedom” executive order.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.