May 12, 2019

What Do You Think About The Satanic Temple?

Satanic minion

I would like to see the Hail Satan? documentary. Unfortunately, it is not playing anywhere near me. I don't want to see it quite badly enough to drive over 100 miles in each direction to do so, and that's what I'd have to do to if I wanted to see it in the theater. And really, I'm in no hurry. I'm sure I'll see it eventually, and I don't think this is a case of it being ruined by waiting. If you know anything about it, you know that it involves The Satanic Temple. And since I haven't seen the film, this post is not about the film but about its subject.

You have probably heard that The Satanic Temple was just recognized by the IRS as a religion. This was big news for the group. It means that they now have tax-exempt status just like the Church of Scientology.

It also means that an explicitly atheistic group (i.e., they do not believe in a literal Satan or any other supernatural entities) is now entitled to all the benefits the U.S. government typically reserves for theistic religions. For those interested in learning more about The Satanic Temple, you can find quite a bit of information about what they believe and how they compare with other Satanic groups on their website.

In many ways, I'm still not sure what to make of The Satanic Temple. I applaud their work on behalf of separation of church and state, and I have admired the creative manner in which they troll the Christian right. Their embrace of the outsider status is refreshing, as is their support for freethought. As a fan of horror flicks and metal music, I love the visual aesthetic of much of their imagery. When I visit their website, I find myself agreeing with most of what they believe. And as I have previously noted, it appears that their belief system is ethically superior to the Ten Commandments (not that this should be particularly hard to accomplish).

On the other hand, I'm not sure that the best way to oppose religion is to create another one. Isn't no religion still preferable to an atheistic religion? I think I'd prefer to see us reach the point where we didn't need religion of any sort. And while I would never blame The Satanic Temple or any other Satanic group for this, the creation of an atheistic religion that has "Satan" in the name is going to make it harder for Christians to overcome their delusion that we atheists are all "devil worshipers."

How about you? What do you think about The Satanic Temple? Are they good for atheism and/or the separation of church and state?