An “After School Satan Club” is slated to start at a Tennessee elementary school — much to the dismay of district leaders who acknowledge they lack legal options to stop the controversial program.
Already active in a handful of states, the program hosted by The Satanic Temple is scheduled to begin at Chimneyrock Elementary School when students return from holiday break.
Memphis-Shelby County Schools Interim Superintendent Toni Williams slammed the incoming program, but said there’s not much she can do to stop it.
“I want to assure you that I do not endorse, I do not support the beliefs of this organization at the center of recent headlines,” Williams said during a press conference streamed on WREG. “I do, however, support the law. As a superintendent, I am duty-bound to uphold our board policy, state laws and the Constitution.”
The after-school program was planned after parents expressed interest, campaign director June Everett told the station. It would take place in the library, but is not sponsored by the school district.
Attendance is optional at the after-school club that will offer science projects, community service, puzzles and nature activities.
“The Satanic Temple is a non-theistic religion that views Satan as a literary figure who represents a metaphorical construct of rejecting tyranny and championing the human mind and spirit,” the group claims, adding the club does not attempt to convert kids to any religious ideology.
The program is in a handful of states.
School board member Mauricio Calvo said school officials would explore possible options to “mitigate the situation” ahead of the Jan. 10, 2024 start date for the club.
He vowed if the program goes forward, he and other school officials would “make sure that all children are protected every single day.”
Calvo noted the school is in an “uncomfortable” position, citing the law that does not let the district pick and choose which programs are welcomed.
School board chair Althea Greene, who is a pastor, gave a more scathing assessment of the Satanic Temple.
“Satan has no room in this district,” she exclaimed.
Rev. Bill Adkins said he wants a solution found to combat the arrival of the program.
“We cannot allow them to have time with our children,” he said. “And that’s the bottom line.”
The district is required to have the Satanic Temple program inside the school because it allows other non-profit entities to use school property after-hours.
“Members of the satanic temple are not theistic Satanists, so they don’t believe in an actual real Satan,” Everett, the campaign director, told WREG.
“We can take Satan and view Satan as this creature and this character however we want,” she also said. “We don’t have to believe Satan as this evil deity. We can view Satan as we wish and that’s exactly what we do.”
Last month the Saucon Valley School District in Pennsylvania agreed to pay $200,000 in attorney’s fees to The Satanic Temple — and allow students to attend its after-school program on school grounds following a lawsuit.
The non-profit says it offers activities that “emphasize a scientific, rationalistic, non-superstitious worldview.”
With Post wires