When most people think of the Satanic Temple, they make assumptions based on the portrayal of satanism in the media. The complete story of the Satanic Temple is more complex; the group is defined in large part by their advocacy for social rights movements such as the “abolition of corporal punishment in public schools [and] legal protection against laws that … restrict women’s reproductive autonomy.” What makes people hesitant about the idea of the Satanic Temple is its apparent association with Satan. However, Satanism is a non-theistic religion, meaning that there is no belief in a god. The founders of the Satanic Temple thought that it was unjust that only those who believed in the supernatural could live by a code of conduct, and thought that people who did not believe in the supernatural should be just as committed to their morals. Therefore, Satan is used as a symbol for rebellion against arbitrary authority in the teachings of the Satanic Temple.
The Satanic Temple has continuously struggled with negative media portrayal, especially in fictional novels, film and television negative. Lucien Greaves, co-founder of the Satanic Temple, criticized Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” for using the Baphomet statue without the religion’s permission. Baphomet symbolizes Satanism’s interests in empathy and unique liberties, but is often portrayed as a symbol of fear or of the occult.
One common misconception about the Satanic Temple is that they sacrifice animals. However, the official website states, “rituals never involve the promotion of suffering, do not involve animals, and are always consensual among all participants.” For example, Black Mass is a celebration of “blasphemy” that expresses personal liberties without entailing harm done to a living creature.
In an interview with Gabi, an Oakland Tech junior, she discusses her experience as a part of the Satanic Temple, which she has participated in for about a year. She initially joined because she “remember[ed] being really afraid about abortion rights being threatened … and remember[ed] thinking about other ways this right could be protected … one of them being under the religious freedom act … because [abortions] are considered a right in the Satanic Temple.” In response to Texas’ recent ban on abortions, the temple is challenging the state by invoking the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which permits first trimester abortions. Gabi discussed how, although her rights to bodily autonomy are important to her, she would never be a part of something that didn’t align with her morals and that she thought was unethical. Before she joined the Satanic Temple, she did thorough research to ensure that this is something she wanted to be a part of. During this process, she discovered that the organization “put a lot of [her] feelings about how people should conduct themselves into writing.” With in-depth research and knowledge, this unique practice is not what it seems. The Satanic Temple promotes a deep conviction of personal accountability, and at its core, caring and empathy for others.