A Tennessee elementary school’s plan to allow the Satanic Temple to host an after-school program in its library is facing backlash from the students’ parents and family members, one of whom insists the program is equipped to “negatively impact” children.
The Satanic Temple plans to host its first After School Satan Club (ASSC) in Cordova, Tennessee, on Jan. 10, 2024, at Chimneyrock Elementary School.
A flyer for the event describes the Satanic Temple as a non-theistic religion recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a church. The church views Satan as a literary figure who represents a “metaphorical construct of rejecting tyranny and championing the human mind and spirit.”
They added that the “Satan Club” will not attempt to convert students to any religious ideology. Instead, the Satanic Temple encourages “children to think for themselves.”
One parent who asked that their identity remain anonymous due to the circumstances told Fox News Digital that she is “concerned and anxious” over the school’s decision to play host to the group next year.
“This program has great potential to negatively impact children at school there,” the parent said. “At a time when our kids should be growing and learning to be better people, this comes along. The name itself is just out of touch with what most of us want our kids exposed to.”
“My kid won’t be attending, and I hope other mothers and fathers out there will be mindful before allowing their children to participate,” the parent added. “We’re better than this – as a group, as a community, and hopefully as a school.”
The parent, who said her child expressed no interest in attending the program ever since they were made aware of it, said she hopes to see the school reverse its decision on allowing the program to take place in the school library.
“My child’s school library isn’t for this kind of program,” the parent said. “My suggestion to the Satanic Temple would be to find somewhere else, maybe more accepting, to take this.”
Ashley, who only provided her first name for interview purposes, is the aunt of a student who attends the school and said she hopes to see the program get canceled before it “perverts the minds of innocent children.”
“My niece isn’t much into religion, but that’s OK because she’s still young,” Ashley told Fox News Digital. “What isn’t needed is a group claiming to help kids think for themselves that pushes a view that Satan isn’t a bad thing, I’m just not OK with that.”
ASSC will provide teachers help to prepare “fun activities” centered on their seven fundamental tenets: benevolence, empathy, critical thinking, problem-solving, creative expression, personal sovereignty and compassion.
“All After School Satan Clubs are based on activities centered around the Seven Fundamental Tenets and emphasize a scientific, rationalist, non-superstitious worldview,” the event’s flyer stated.
The ASSC, which was requested by a parent at the school, was running at eight schools last year. Four schools are currently running ASSC this school year.
After being made aware that a parent had requested the after-school program, Ashley questioned, “What parent does that?”
“This, to me, is only creating a wedge between those of different faiths and backgrounds. That’s the part I’m not OK with,” Ashley added. “Students shouldn’t be subject to this information, no matter what it’s being disguised as.”
“Districts from last year have updated their policies to keep both the GNC and ASSC out, and some of the GNC’s have not returned for this school year – hence the reason we aren’t active in those schools,” Everett, the ASSC campaign director said.
She added, “Our active clubs are in California, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and soon to be Tennessee.”
Everett explained further that school officials would not send out a permission slip for the club “due to an enforced flyer policy,” even though the school had previously sent out permission slips for the Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Club that operates on campus, before school hours.
School district officials said they’re committed to upholding the First Amendment for all nonprofit organizations seeking to use their facilities outside of school hours.
“The Satanic Temple, recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) public charity, falls under this policy and has the same legal rights to use our facilities after-hours as any other nonprofit organization.”
“We started the after-school program in 2016, and since then we’ve had a number of them in operation in various places, some of them still in operation, some of them not for whatever reason,” said Lucien Greaves.
“People don’t understand a lot of the pro-social values we rally around,” he added. “We want people to know we’re active in the communities, and we’re doing productive things.”
Greaves described the kind of activities that the ASSC would facilitate in this after-school program as a self-directed learning process that entails playing games, solving puzzles, activities, and other things that are educational for the kids – where they can choose which ones they want to work with.
The Satanic Temple originally constructed a complex curriculum and consulted people in the field of education, but then changed it after realizing that it had become too elaborate.
“We really wanted to build something that would be a fruitful endeavor for the kids,” Greaves said.