The Adopt-A-Highway idea, in which a group can submit a bid to the Department of Transportation to adopt a section of highway to clean up for the quid pro quo of having its name on a sign on the highway, has a new user whose name might give freeway drivers pause: the Satanic Temple Arizona. The group has adopted a 2-mile stretch of Interstate 10 near Casa Grande.
America Curl, a member of the Satanic Temple, contacted the Department of Transportation last summer. Curl recalled, “I just want to clean up a highway, please give me a highway to cleanup, and they said fine.” Curl filled out an online form and paid the necessary fee, adding, "Then, you put what you want on the signs. We wrote the Satanic Temple of Arizona. Then, you submit through DOT, and they get back to you really quickly."
Curl added, "I was a little hesitant, because I understand people know our name, and worry that we're going to do something crazy, and we're going to try and turn this into something political.”
Stu de Haan, one of the founding members of The Satanic Temple Arizona, stated, “People have this perception that one side does the good stuff and the other side does all the bad stuff. What we are really showing here is that Satanism is a legitimate religion, even though it’s non-theistic, we are showing the people do have a sense of community and they want to get involved."
De Haan asserted that the members of his group do not worship the devil; they just don’t believe in God. The members of his group showed up to pick up trash by using pitchforks just to mock those who criticize them. De Haan said, “A lot of what we hear is from the '80s and '90s called the 'Satanic Panic,' wild and atrocious myths that were just never proven to be true.”
The Satanic Temple’s website stated:
Every year litter and road debris poisons waterways and soil, is consumed by wildlife, and causes 25,000 accidents across the country. In Arizona, we clear 590 tons of trash at a cost $3,000,000 and 150,000 hours of labor. It is our chapter’s wish to help other Arizonans enjoy a clean and beautiful state. Over the course of a year, our chapter will undertake monthly cleanings along our stretch of roadway for a total of eight cleanup dates. This will culminate in a sign showing others our dedication to Keep Arizona Beautiful.
The Satanic Temple Arizona also notes on its website, “Esotericism and occultism are in the mix, yet, our Satanism is derived from the Miltonic-Romantic and French Decadent literary traditions, and is thus primarily political, intellectual, and artistic at its core.”