Satanic Temple Rejects Dignified Burial of Aborted Babies: ‘Undue Burden on Religious Practices’

The Satanic Temple’s bronze Baphomet. Photograph: The Satanic Temple/AP
The Satanic Temple/AP

The Satanic Temple (TST) says the Supreme Court’s ruling that states can decide to dispose of the bodies of aborted unborn babies in a dignified manner, is against its religion.

Stating TST will not be subjected to laws that violate its religious beliefs, a press release says one of the temple’s fundamental religious beliefs is “the inviolability of one’s body.”

“Although the Supreme Court affirmed the right of states to have an interest in the disposal of fetal remains, their ruling allows for objections to the Indiana Law based on undue burden,” said TST spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, adding:

This law clearly places an undue burden on the religious practices of The Satanic Temple by interfering with burial rites. These traditions have existed since the birth of organized religion. Rejecting our claim would profoundly undermine a basic cornerstone of religious organizations. It would be profoundly hypocritical for any Church that advocates for religious rights not to support our claim.

In April, TST announced that the IRS had recognized it as a “church” with tax-exempt status.

“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,” the organization said in its announcement.

Despite its designation, however, TST says on its FAQ page it does not believe in Satan or in the supernatural.

According to Rolling Stone, TST had previously rejected the idea of pursuing tax-exempt status, but Greaves reportedly reverses this position in 2017 after President Donald Trump signed a “religious freedom” executive order.

TST devotes a page of its website to its support for abortion on demand, stating it “religiously objects” to any restrictions on abortion.

According to the press release:

Members of The Satanic Temple believe that non-viable fetal tissue is part of the woman who carries it, and as such, state impositions of ceremonial requirements dictating its disposal, barring any plausible medical or sanitary concerns, is a violation of TST’s Free Exercise allowing Satanists to contextualize the termination of a pregnancy on their own terms, with deference to their own religious beliefs. As such, TST affirms that this rule violates their religious beliefs and asserts that their members may refuse to adhere.

TST claims that, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the fetal burial law does not apply to its member because it violates a tenet of their religion.

“RFRA, a federal law enacted in 1993 designed to protect religious freedom, requires that when a religious practice conflicts with laws of the State, the State must provide a compelling reason for why religious rights should not be honored,” states the announcement.

Greaves said TST members “will not be made to pay for these punitive, superfluous, and insulting burials.”

“We claim exemption on religious liberty grounds, and we will almost certainly prevail in the courts if we are forced to fight,” he added.

“It’s time that petty sanctimonious panderers like Vice President Pence, who signed this law as governor, come to realize that religious liberty means freedom from unreasonable government imposition upon religious opinion and practice,” he continued, “not his own ‘freedom’ to impose a particular religiously-dictated practice upon the electorate whom he serves.”

 

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