How can you consider yourself a legitimate religion when Satanism only exists in opposition to Christianity?
Invariably, in the course of our campaigns, we are confronted with the ignorant assumptions, dissembling criticisms, and confused objections of those who would create false arguments in favor of government-recognized Christian exceptionalism. Operating under a cheap and unconvincing claim of constitutional support, puzzled lawmakers with theocratic aspirations struggle to reconcile their proclaimed allegiance to government viewpoint neutrality with their panicked impulse to exclude Satanists from any and all public privileges. What this usually amounts to is a rejection of the notion that Satanism can be considered a religion at all. Conveniently defining “religion” from the model of their own practice, these self-appointed defenders of Christian America scoff aside the very notion of an atheistic religion (thus also casting out Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, and other examples, as somehow being non-religions).
During the uproar related to The Satanic Temple’s public holiday displays, it wasn’t uncommon to read ignorant and irresponsible text from outraged hack reporters stating “The Satanic Temple believes in neither God nor the Devil, but exists merely to mock Christianity”. No citation was — nor could be — provided for this brash accusation that ran contrary to everything we, The Satanic Temple, ourselves had to say about our own motives and mission.
Apparently, for some tender-headed bloviators, it’s altogether too much to comprehend that archetypal tales can hold meaning and impart values even if not taken as literal histories. Ironically — given that early Christianity could easily be seen as little more than Jewish heresy, dependent upon, and defined by, the older religion — self-identified Christians today fail to recognize ever-present forces of cultural syncretism.
The fact is (and the facts have been publicly available in our materials all along), The Satanic Temple (TST) forwards its own affirmative values, and doesn’t merely act in rejection of, or in opposition to, that which Christians claim as their own. The claim that TST merely exists to “mock Christians” is a facile attempt at justifying viewpoint discrimination, a cheap attempt at intellectualizing sanctioned religious preference. In the case of the holiday displays, it was tedious and aggravating to read the willfully ignorant write of our “true” motives outside of what we ourselves had stated. If one is to take the liberty of deciding, by fiat, that our displays were really just an attempt to mock Christians, we’d be no less justified declaring the Nativity scenes placed on public land as nothing more than open and calculated mockeries against secular law and non-religious holiday observers. After all, what’s so difficult about keeping such displays to ones home and/or Church?
Lucien Greaves is the pen name/pseudonym for Doug Mesner, spokesman for The Satanic Temple.