The Satanic Fight for Human Rights
An Interview with Lucien Greaves, Co-Founder of The Satanic Temple
A lot of us feel like it kind of came to us, or that we were born into it.
The Satanic Temple (TST) are a fascinating organization. Although they are often portrayed in the media as mere pranksters trying to troll the legal system, they are much more than that. They are a collection of like-minded individuals united by their commitment to ideas of compassion, freedom, and rationality, and who have adopted the symbols of Satanism in a non-theistic way.
For many, the idea of “non-theistic Satanism” sound ridiculous. How can somebody be a Satanist without actually worshiping Satan? And, what’s more, how can something be a religion without being theistic? These are not easy questions, and TST has had to deal with them since their very inception, even before US Courts. Indeed, as Joseph P. Laycock mentions in his seminal study of TST:
“By demanding religious rights for non-theistic Satanists—and doing so in court where their arguments must be taken more seriously—TST forces us to consider what “religion” means for a country that promises religious freedom.”
What made TST interesting for me, however, was not the philosophical question of what is a religion, or whether supernatural beliefs are a conditio sine qua non for something to be considered as such. I leave that to the members of TST. Instead, what caught my attention were the legal battles in which the Temple has found itself, fighting before US Courts for religious liberty, the separation of church and state, reproductive rights, and even protecting children from corporal punishment in schools (which, somehow, is still not completely banned by law in the US).
And yet, despite how (in)famous TST has become, it remains a victim of what some scholars have referred to as “ignorant familiarity”. This is the belief that some have about how they really know what TST is and what it stands for, despite their absolute ignorance about it. This is partly explained by the symbols used by TST, and which have traditionally been associated with evil and wickedness (despite their fictional nature). People know about the Christian Satan, and what it represents there, and extend that understanding to what they think TST does.
Hoping to set the record straight about TST, I met with Lucien Greaves, the co-founder and spokesperson of the Satanic Temple. We had a very long and interesting conversation where we discussed not just the origins, ideas and legal battles of TST, but also went through some of the criticisms that the Temple has received both from within and from outside its ranks. It was a very interesting and fruitful discussion, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
A transcript of the interview (with LOTS of links and references for you to peruse) is available below for subscribers only (and, don’t worry, you can cancel anytime).
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