The approval and subsequent rejection of another After School Satan Club, this time in Pennsylvania’s Saucon Valley School District, has kicked off threats of both violence and a freedom of speech lawsuit.
After School Satan Clubs, which organizers say are more about lighting up students’ curiosity than worshiping the devil or practicing the dark arts, have been receiving approval to use district spaces across the country to hold their meetings, as many other community organizations do. These clubs—according to their sponsor, the Satanic Temple—are meant to provide alternatives to The Good News Club and other evangelical religious organizations that regularly meet on K12 campuses.
The clubs have faced pushback from parents and others in some districts while in others they have launched with little controversy.
The latest firestorm began last month shortly after Saucon Valley administrators gave the club permission to meet on campus. That approval doesn’t seem to have drawn much notice until an angry caller left a voicemail with the district, threatening to “come in there and shoot everybody” over the club’s approval, WFMZ reported.
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That closed the district for a day, and authorities eventually arrested a 20-year-old North Carolina for allegedly making the threat, according to WFMZ. The scare also seems to have led Saucon Valley leaders to change their minds about the After School Satan Club, rescinding the invitation to the organization even after dozens of students had signed up to participate.
That decision drew the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union and its Pennsylvania chapter, which have threatened to sue the district if it does not permit the club to use its facilities. “The threats against you, your family and the District, as well as any other threats of violence that have been made in response to our clients’ facility-use application, are unacceptable and reprehensible,” the ACLU wrote in its March 3 letter to the district. “But penalizing our clients, who are also the victims of these threats, by denying them access to District facilities is unconscionable and unconstitutional.”
This week, the district informed the ACLU that it is sticking with its decision to deny the club’s request to meet, The Morning Call reported.
This After School Satan Club stirred no controversy
There appears to have been no local uproar in the Rocky Mountains as an After School Satan Club was set to hold its first meeting at Paonia K-8, part of western Colorado’s Delta County School District.
ASSC is ready for Spring in Colorado! TST proudly announces a NEW After School Satan Club launching at Paonia K-8 in Paonia, CO!
For more information: https://t.co/naztHmCjpR
To sign up your local student: https://t.co/kpxFIgYTi3
To support ASSC: https://t.co/RoA7hqQAOL pic.twitter.com/WbP2cbi9Jg
— The Satanic Temple (@satanic_temple_) February 21, 2023
The club was initiated by a parent who wanted their child to have an alternative to the Good News Club that meets at the school, a Satanic Temple representative told Colorado Newsline. The club is scheduled to hold three meetings this semester starting this week.
“In this particular case, it’s considered a religious group, and we allow other religious groups to use our facilities as well,” Delta County Assistant Superintendent Kurt Clay told KVNF.org. “In fact, in Delta County, we have from time to time let other churches rent some of our facilities and so once we allow one we have to allow all.”
In New York, on the other hand, a group protested in a church parking lot this week against an After School Satan Club scheduled to meet next week at Homer Brink Elementary School near Binghamton. Jason Van Fossen, superintendent of the Maine-Endwell School District, told WBNG that he was not surprised that some families were upset about the club’s arrival but that many factors were considered in its approval.
“The district was put in a very difficult situation,” Van Fossen told the station.