An Ilinois school district has defended the presence of an after-school “Satan club” following criticism from parents.
The “After School Satan Club” is sponsored by the Satanic Temple of the United States. The Satanic Temple says the clubs were created in response to Christian Good News Clubs being established in public schools nationwide.
Several flyers for the club were posted in the foyer of the Jane Addams Elementary School in Moline, Illinois, and a photo of one of the flyers was shared on Facebook.
According to the flyer, the Satan club would include science projects, puzzles, games, arts and crafts projects, and nature activities, as well as lessons in benevolence, empathy, critical thinking, problem solving, creative expression, and “personal sovereignty.”
Regardless of religious affiliation, students in first through fifth grade were invited to join the group. The first meeting was set to take place on Thursday of this week, with four sessions to follow.
At the bottom of the flyer was a permission sheet that parents could fill out if they wanted their child to participate in the after-school club activities. The poster also includes a type of disclaimer from the school, stating that it cannot discriminate against groups that wish to distribute flyers and urged parents to “assist their children in making appropriate choices for them.”
“This is not an activity of the school or the School District,” the advertisement for the club added.
The Satanic Temple claims these clubs are not meant to convert children to Satanists.
On the Temple’s website they say, “while the classes are designed to promote intellectual and emotional development in accordance with TST’s tenets, no proselytization or religious instruction takes place.”
“Proselytization is not our goal, and we’re not interested in converting children to Satanism. After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us,” the organization adds. “We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors.”
Their website defines themselves as a “non-theistic religion that views Satan as a mythical figure representing individual freedom.”
The club flyers claim teachers will voluntarily run the club. Following outraged parents’ criticism, Rachel Savage, the superintendent of Moline-Coal Valley Schools, issued a response.
Savage wrote in a public letter that “no teachers from Jane Addams, or any other district teacher, is involved.”
Savage explained a parent in the district reached out to the Satanic Temple and informed them that Jane Addams Elementary School runs a child evangelism fellowship group and requested that the After School Satan Club be brought to the school.
Savage explained how there is nothing she can do to end the club, saying, “since we have allowed religious entities to rent our facilities after school hours, we are not permitted to discriminate against different religious viewpoints.”
Savage said banning the Satanic Temple club “subjects the district to a discrimination lawsuit, which we will not win.”
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