An Illinois school district is defending an elementary school hosting a “Satan club” after the strange extracurricular activity prompted outrage from parents.
The “After School Satan Club” is sponsored by the Satanic Temple of the United States, which says the clubs are a response to the Christian Good News Clubs at public schools across the country.
Flyers for the club were displayed in the lobby of the Jane Addams Elementary School in Moline, and a photo of the flyer later circulated on Facebook.
The flyer said the Satan club would include science projects, puzzles, games, arts and crafts projects, and nature activities and promised to teach kids benevolence, empathy, critical thinking, problem solving, creative expression, and “personal sovereignty.”
The club was advertised for first grade to fifth grade children, regardless of religious background. It was scheduled to hold the first meeting on Thursday of this week, with four other meetings to follow.
At the bottom of the flyer was a permission slip for parents to fill out if they want their child to attend the after school club. The flyer also included a disclaimer of sorts from the school saying it cannot discriminate against groups that want to distribute flyers and encouraging parents to “assist their children in making choices appropriate for them.”
It added, “This is not an activity of the school or the School District.”
The Satanic Temple claims that the purpose of the clubs is not to convert children to Satanism.
“While the classes are designed to promote intellectual and emotional development in accordance with TST’s tenets, no proselytization or religious instruction takes place,” The Satanic Temple states on its website.
“Proselytization is not our goal, and we’re not interested in converting children to Satanism. 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,” the organization adds. “We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors.”
The Satanic Temple describes itself as a “non-theistic religion that views Satan as a mythical figure representing individual freedom.”
The flyer for the Satan club also claimed that the club would be run by volunteer teachers. Following pushback from parents, Rachel Savage, superintendent of Moline-Coal Valley Schools, issued a response to their concerns.
“No teachers from Jane Addams, or any other district teacher, is involved,” Savage wrote in a public letter to parents.
Savage said that a parent in the district reached out to the Satanic Temple and told them that Jane Addams offers a child evangelism fellowship club and asked to bring the After School Satan Club to the school.
“Since we have allowed religious entities to rent our facilities after school hours, we are not permitted to discriminate against different religious viewpoints,” Savage explained, adding that to illegally deny the Satanic Temple “subjects the district to a discrimination lawsuit, which we will not win.”
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