When he was a young child, Jesse Irvin Overholtzer was convicted by his sin, yet even though he was reared with a religious background, Jesse was taught that he was “too young” to pray or to understand the good news of salvation. Eventually, at age 20, subsequent to eight years of darkness and rebellion, he trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Overholtzer later became a pastor, and during that time he was convinced that children were able to understand the gospel message, if properly instructed, and could be regenerated just as an adult. Consequently, he founded Child Evangelism Fellowship in 1937, as a mission agency to children.
When public schools first began in the United States, there was a common practice of using the Bible to teach children to read. The precepts of Christianity were perceived as the basis of good citizenship and good government. The Bible was deemed essential for inculcating children with proper moral precepts and teaching them to be good citizens. Child Evangelism Fellowship thus accordingly established afterschool Good News Clubs as a ministry outreach to children. Currently, there are more than 3,500 Good News Clubs in public schools throughout the United States, and more than 42,000 clubs worldwide.
The impact of Child Evangelism Fellowship is so disturbing to a group called The Satanic Temple, that its members have commenced a plan to offer an After School Satan club in every public school that has a Good News Club. Satanic Temple leaders claim to have established their clubs in nine states already, with plans for more. The strategy began earlier in 2016, as leaders of the Satanic Temple plotted to instill their “wisdom” to elementary school children.
What Is the Satanic Temple’s Goal?
Members of the Satanic Temple emphasize that they do not “preach religion or follow evil notions of the Christian symbol of Satan, the devil.” As opposed to teaching children to worship the devil, the After School Satan club will focus upon the Satanic Temple’s tenants of “common sense, science and individual liberties.” One member clarified, “‘We’d really like to see no religion in the schools at all, but since there is already being presented a Christian view, we’re going to go to those schools that are presenting an after school Christian program and offer a Satanic one.”1 The proposed clubs are more intended to remove religious afterschool programs by claiming discrepancy between separation of church and state, with the granting of special rights to religious groups. The motivation for commencing the After School Satan clubs is to confront “religion in the schools, and it comes from a group that has worked to oppose the use of religious ceremony in the public arena, such as at city council meetings.”2
Lucien Greaves (born Doug Mesner), the Satanic Temple’s co-founder, asserted, “It’s critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think.” Satanic Temple members believe Satan is merely a “metaphorical construct” that symbolizes the rejection of tyrannical impositions upon the human mind. Temple advocates reject all forms of supernaturalism, and are committed to the notion that scientific rationality fosters the most constructive reality.3
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98 (2001), that forbidding religious clubs violated free speech rights and permitting the Club’s religious activities did not contravene the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which simply asserts, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Good News Clubs were permitted to meet in public schools after school hours to promote “moral and character development,” as would any other community group such as the Boy Scouts.
In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that invocations prior to local government meetings did not “violate the Establishment Clause as long as no religion is advanced or disparaged, and residents aren’t coerced.” Indeed, the alternative would be far worse in “having government officials and courts ‘act as supervisors and censors of religious speech,’ or declaring all such prayers unconstitutional.”4 Satanic Temple members have sought to challenge that ruling by volunteering to perform their own unique benedictions and invocations. One town responded by abolishing the recitation of opening prayers, which is the goal that the Satanic Temple desires.
American Christians should understand that the “wall of separation” prohibits government interference in religion, but did not prevent religion from influencing government. The Founding Fathers understood the need for religious influence as a moral foundation for society. Therefore, the original intent was to prohibit the newly formed federal government from interfering with the religious beliefs and practices of the individual states. The states wanted to maintain their freedom to establish a religion or prohibit a religion, and did not want to lose power to establish or prohibit a religion to the newly formed federal government of the United States.
Christians throughout the world must know that God established specific roles and responsibilities for the church and state. Neither church nor state are to control one another, or form an alliance with one another. The rule of Christ for the present dispensation is separate from the political realm. Nevertheless, Christians must recognize the divine commission to serve as the “pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15), and to exercise that duty by proclaiming biblical teachings within the political sphere and within all realms where God provides influence. The church can and should exercise religious liberty in submission to the authority of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit’s prompting, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
What Is Satanism?
How should one understand Satanism? Is it a competing religion through worship of a supernatural being? As already indicated in assertions from the Satanic Temple, Satanists do not believe that Satan is an actual being. Satanists are atheists who perceive the world as indifferent to them, and thus assert that all ethics and morality are subjective human constructions. Embracing a subjective worldview, the Satanist can be understood as worshiping self, an “I-theist.” Even though Satanists do not regard Satan as a literal being, their pursuit of everything that is evil and unholy (in contrast to what is good and holy) certainly epitomizes the biblical depiction of devil worship. By its very definition, Satanism is nothing more than a sequence of negations. Everything that embodies
Satanism is obscured in opposition to Christianity. As long as humanity persists in rebellion to God, the assertions of Satanism will appeal to those who are fascinated with the paranormal and love their immorality.
Satanism is a topic that many people would prefer never to address, yet for others it is a philosophical religion that can be traced to many sources, such as: classical voodoo, the eighteenth century Hellfire Club of Britain and Ireland, the ceremonial magic of Aleister Crowley, and the 1920-30s Black Sun Society of Germany. Where modern Satanism departs from its predecessors is its organization into a church and the candidness of its magical endeavors, which began with Anton Szandor LaVey in the 1960s, with his Church of Satan and his foreboding The Satanic Bible.
The Satanic Temple differs from the beliefs of LaVey by embracing its own guiding beliefs and principles. The superseding principle of the Satanic Temple is the utilization of current scientific evidence for determining the most authentic and rational decisions. The Satanic Temple also rejects the authoritarianism of LaVeyan Satanism, which they believe is adverse to Satanic concepts of personal sovereignty. Temple advocates also deny paranormal notions of the universe, as evident in LaVey’s edict instructing a person to recognize “the power of magic.”5
Christians should never become comfortable with evil. The Apostle Paul never allowed himself to become comfortable with pagan idolatry. He had seen many pagan cities, yet never had a passive attitude toward them. When the apostle was at Athens, “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” (Acts 17:16). The presence of evil provoked Paul to contend against “the Jews, and with the devout persons” in defense of the living God. God has given His church the power to persevere as bold witnesses against the wiles of the devil (Acts 1:8).
Nevertheless, the church must also “be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt 10:16), which would mean not falling victim to the entrapment that the Satanic Temple has prepared with its After School Satan club. Recognize the specific God-given responsibilities of both church and state, which include the divine commission and privilege to influence government, and thus be wise against those who are seeking to remove all religion from government operated schools. After School Satan clubs can be allowed to operate alongside Christian groups, such as afterschool Good News Clubs. Ultimately, the believer in Jesus Christ must recognize that neither embracing scientific rationalism nor underestimating Satan can provide the light and truth of the gospel message. Temple advocates affirm that only they believe what is demonstrably true, and thus a great opportunity exists to examine the “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3) that allow one to approach the Bible rationally and examine its claims that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again.
1 George Franco, “‘Satan Club’ proposed for Cobb County elementary school” [article online] (Fox 5 Atlanta, 1 August 2016, accessed 24 August 2016) available from http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/184255651-story.
2 Katherine Stewart and Moriah Balingit, “Several school districts say After School Satan clubs likely in line with policies” [article online] (The Washington Post, 1 August 2016, accessed 24 August 2016) available from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/several-school-districts-say-after-school-satan-clubs-likely-in-line-with-policies/2016/08/01/c5ea1558-581a-11e6-9aee-8075993d73a2_story.html.
3 Katherine Stewart, “An After School Satan Club could be coming to your kid’s elementary school” [article online] (The Washington Post, 30 July 2016, accessed 25 August 2016) available from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/an-after-school-satan-club-could-be-coming-to-your-kids-elementary-school/2016/07/30/63f485e6-5427-11e6-88eb-7dda4e2f2aec_story.html.
4 Richard Wolf, “Supreme Court upholds prayer at government meetings” [article online] (USA Today, 5 May 2014, accessed 25 August 2016) available from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/05/supreme-court-government-prayer-new-york/4481969.
5 Anton Szandor LaVey, “The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth” (Church of Satan, 1967, accessed 29 December 2016) available from http://www.churchofsatan.com/eleven-rules-of-earth.php.
Midnigth Call - 03/2017