An After School Satan Club was, perhaps not surprisingly, voted down by the Northern York County school board earlier this year when organizers sought to begin meeting at one of the Pennsylvania district’s elementary schools. And though the clubs—created by the Salem, Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple as a counter to Christian evangelist Good News Clubs and similar student groups—have been barred from several other districts, they haven’t been blocked everywhere.
An After School Satan Club has been allowed to set up shop at Donovan Elementary School in Lebanon City Schools near Cincinnati, Ohio. “A local resident and taxpayer of Lebanon City Schools” worked with The Satanic Temple to get the chapter approved, Superintendent Isaac W. Seevers wrote in a message to his district, adding that the club is neither sponsored nor endorsed by the district.
“The district does not and is not legally allowed to discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religiously affiliated groups,” Seevers wrote. “The district has approved these types of groups in the past, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism program. The Good News Club has met after school at Donovan Elementary School for years.”
Organizers say After School Satan Clubs are more about lighting up students’ curiosity than practicing any dark arts. There is no devil worship or attempts to convert children to Satanism, and the organization doesn’t even believe there is a Hell, the Satanic Temple says on its website.
The mission of the Temple’s “Educatin’ With Satan” after-school program is to promote the intellectual and creative interests of students through self-directed education, rationalism and free inquiry. “We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting otherworldly horrors,” the group says.
The Moline-Coal Valley School District also noted its approval of a Good News Club in explaining to the community why an After School Satan Club was permitted to begin meeting last winter, KWQC.com reported. Just this month, Tehachapi USD near Bakersfield, California, approved an After School Satan Club, which will gather at Golden Hills Elementary School, the Tehachapi News reported.
Tehachapi students need a parent’s permission to participate in the club. “The district cannot discriminate among groups wishing to use TUSD facilities or distribute flyers to students based on viewpoint,” Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson wrote to the community. “We are committed to working to minimize any distractions this news may create, while ensuring our focus is always on providing a safe and secure learning environment.”