Satanic Temple Has Spiritual Lessons to Teach

Satanic Temple MonumentElizabeth alerted me to this bit of excellent news, Satanists to Give Prayer at Phoenix City Council Meeting. In December, two members of the Satanic Temple, Michelle Shortt and Stu de Haan, requested to be able to do the opening prayer for the regular meeting. It is scheduled for 17 February.

Not surprisingly, some of the council members were unhappy about this. But Phoenix City Attorney Brad Holm released a statement saying that prayer will go forward as planned. He seems to be one of people who has studied the Constitution and the Supreme Court and found that it would go against our laws and traditions to stop the Satanic Temple.

I fully expect when the Satanic Temple members speak, they will be quite serious about it. The core of the teachings of the Satanic Temple is that Satan is a symbol for those whom the society casts out.

Before I get into this, can I quote a little Shakespeare? “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose; By any other name would smell as sweet.” The people who hate the Satanic Temple know nothing about it. They just know that they were taught in Sunday School that Satan was the Bad Guy™ in the Bible. And as I’ve discussed, the modern conception of Satan — The Devil! — is really not the traditional one. Certainly in Job, Satan is more of a helper to God — making sure that man really does love God and isn’t just pretending because God is so good to him.

I fully expect when the Satanic Temple members speak, they will be quite serious about it. The core of the teachings of the Satanic Temple is that Satan is a symbol for those whom the society casts out. To use John Edwards’ words, Satan is a symbol for the other America — the one that is only shown on the television when it is at its worst. Satanism is quite consistent with Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Indeed, I would say that Satanism is more in keeping with Christianity than most American Christians I see who seem only interested in stopping abortion (without a care for the child after it is born) and vilifying same sex couples.

Intolerance Toward Satanic Temple

Councilman Jim Waring thinks that the Satanic Temple should have been told no because he thinks they are just trying to be offensive. Notice how far we’ve come in these 225+ years! Waring is arguing that the offense taken by the vast majority of Americans trumps the offense taken by the minority. Every time I go to an event where there is some kind of prayer, I bristle. I hate it. I am offended. I think, “How dare you!” Because these people only think it is okay because most people believe this Iron Age nonsense. It is presumptuous to think that I do.

There’s just one problem with Jim Waring’s thinking: it goes entirely against the Bill of Rights. Despite what idiot Fox News pundits say, Christians are not being oppressed in this country. They say this when Christians are called on their special rights — like doing 95% of all the public prayers in the nation. Majorities don’t need to be protected; minorities need to be protected. The whole of human history has shown this. And that is what makes our Constitution a remarkable document for its time.

De Haan said, “We don’t intend on doing anything offensive.” And I’m sure he’s being honest. It’s not like the Satanic Temple has an organizational structure like the Catholic Church, but everything I’ve seen from them indicates that they take it all seriously. But if this leads to someone in a pirate suit and colander talking about beer volcanoes, fine. And if that means that older religions decide that they don’t want to do these kind of public prayers, well, happy days are here again! Because, as I said, I find them offensive as hell. And they have no place in the workings of a secular government.

If we don’t allow the Satanic Temple to give prayers at city council meetings, then the government has established a religion. It may not be a particular one, but it has divided religions into those that have rights and those that don’t. And if we do that, we really are lost. But frankly, I think at least a third of this country already is.


See also: Seven Tenets Beat Ten Commandments.

13 thoughts on “Satanic Temple Has Spiritual Lessons to Teach

  1. The way christians (most of them) need to continuously and deliberately reindoctrinate themselves is strange. It’s more than just their purity obsession. It’s like they realize how fragile their belief is. But the public prayer tic is more about their need to piss all over everything to claim territory. And we are meant to see their unwanted evangelism as doing us a favor. The greatest possible favor. The crashing lack of humility behind this privilege, it never ceases to astonish.

    • Matt Taibbi once described it as the recently converted having to constantly check their pockets to see if their faith is still there. I don’t because my faith is rock solid and no arguing with me will get rid of it. However I am not the average evangelical since I don’t even believe in spreading the Gospel-as far as I am concerned “you have google, go nuts.”

    • That’s a good line about marking territory. It also reminds me of people like Huckabee saying that God has been banned from public schools. As if children can’t pray all they want in public school. To them, a lack of explicit indoctrination means “God” is banned.

      But I should be clear: it is conservative Christians. There are liberal Christians like Elizabeth Bruenig who don’t seem to want to push religion everywhere in the public square (even though she is religiously anti-abortion).

  2. I was talking to a colleague about this and he was all “you should watch this video of Rubio giving a great answer to an atheist.” After I watched it I did not point out the obvious about it: Rubio is going to, of course, say everything right. But once he is in office, he will definitely show a preference just like Bush did.

    What I did point out is how uncomfortable it makes me to have politicians/office holders talk about religion. I am a theist but it has no place in government unless God decides to come hang out on Earth a lot more.

    • Of all the GOP field, Rubio as president scares me the most. He’s very slick. He could actually sell right-wing snake oil. Cruz and Trump can only be bought by true believers.

    • And I just don’t trust conservative Christians. I’ll give them abortion as an issue if they are dedicated to taking care of all born humans. But instead, it is “no abortions” and then “law of the jungle.” On the other hand, hippy Christians and mystics are some of my favorite people!

      • I wouldn’t since I happen to be one of the people they would force gestation on if they could.

        But I can see why it would be nice to just get rid of the cudgel they use.

        • I wouldn’t agree with that position. But I would accept it as a defensible position. But when you say “not abortion” and then “law of the jungle,” it’s clear that you just hate and want to control women.

          • I may need some clarification on what you don’t agree on with the position-the fact that they want to require women to gestate regardless of the feeling of the woman carrying the fetus?

            Since that is something I think you don’t like and so I think it is another situation where we agree but are not quite matching up.

            • Hmm. I’m not sure what the confusion is. I don’t disagree with you at all. But I think you got the impression that I was saying I was okay with banning abortion in exchange for a strong welfare state. I was not. I was only saying that if they were for that, I would at least grant that they have a tenable position. But they don’t even manage that, because they care about the fetus only until it becomes a baby, and then it can starve for all they care.

              It’s part of a common argument I make that there is a kind of conservatism that I would respect, even if I would totally disagree with it. It’s sad that we don’t even have that. We have a kind of conservatism that is quite simply evil. There’s no other way to put it.

              • I didn’t get that from the initial response. However, like usual, we agreed-I just was not clear what you meant at first.

              • People dismiss Morgan Spurlock. One, because he has the dumbest mustache ever, and two, because his film “Super-Size Me” was something of a stunt. But he’s a better filmmaker than he’s given credit for.

                His series, “30 Days,” was excellent. People who disagreed with each other spent 30 days in someone else’s shoes. It was the stunt from “Super-Size Me” applied to a lot of different issues. A border-patrol terrorist spends 30 days with an undocumented Mexican family. That sort of thing. It was outstanding and compassionate. No wonder it was cancelled.

                In one episode, a fierce pro-abortion activist spends 30 days with a serious anti-abortion couple. And by serious, I mean they actually give a shit about mothers and children. The couple works to get young mothers jobs. They work to get young mothers affordable healthcare for their babies. If conservatism was actually like this — if “compassionate conservatism” was anything more than a ruse — we could be having friendly arguments about whether liberal or conservative solutions would best solve our problems.

                As it is, conservatism is just (along with libertarianism) a code word for fascism. It’s the most brutal, destructive instincts of the human species given a reasonable-sounding label. “Woman-hating, racist-killing, power-worshipping cruelty porn” sounds bad; “conservatism” sounds better.

  3. I am sad to report that the City Council voted to get rid of the opening invocation rather than have the awesome sauce event.

    But it got the result the Temple was looking for so it’s all good. Off to a chocolate festival!

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