By HANNAH CREASEY /// Staff Writer
In response to a controversial Christian after school club starting in the Parkrose School District, another group has begun to apply for its own after school club: The After School Satan Club (ASSC). The Satanic Temple (TST), the organization behind the club, follows a non-theistic version of Satanism. For Finn Rezz, the head of the TST of Portland, Satan is an allegory.
“The allegory of Satan for us is that he questions arbitrary authority and arbitrary ideas,” Rezz said in an interview with the Pioneer Log. “We like to think that any idea that is given the credence of truth should be able to be questioned.”
According to Rezz, the message of the TST coincides a lot with a humanist point of view.
“Our values come down to self empowerment, critical thinking and having empathy for others,” Rezz said. “ We try to be inclusive and accept people for who they are and the world for what it is and to use those beliefs for social justice. Activism is a really big part of what we do.”
The ASSC would not have a religious component. Rather, it aims to provide kids with a positive environment and the opportunity to observe from an empirical, scientific point of view. An average day at ASSC would start with a light, healthy snack and be composed of science activities, art projects and critical thinking exercises.
An anonymous LC student from the class of 2020 said that her own experience being in a Jewish youth group helped her to stay more organized in school. However, she felt that sometimes, religious matters can be a delicate subject.
“I think that religious freedom is something that we Americans are very lucky to have, but that it can often get skewed and come with a lot of bias,” the student said. “A lot of politicians use religion to influence their decisions and that can often interfere with the laws we end up having or end up being taken away.”
While the ASSC has had a significant amount of community support, it is not always well received. John Luck, the director of Child Evangelism Fellowship, expressed his opinion in an interview with KGW Portland.
“I think it’s ironic that they say children should have access to a multiplicity of ideas,” Luck said. “And yet, they themselves have spent years trying to keep the Good News Clubs out of the schools… it’s just a publicity stunt and an exercise in hypocrisy.”
For Katie Wilson ’20, the debate raises important political questions.
“I think this raises questions about religious discrimination and reminds us why church and state are separated,” Wilson said. “If a Christian club is allowed, why is there such a big debate about a Satan club? The club is an extracurricular, so if someone doesn’t like the club, they can ignore it.”
Though the TST was hoping to start such a club for a while, the project gained momentum in response to the starting of many Good News Clubs, a group of Christian after school club, across the nation. The Good News Club was approved to function in schools after the 2001 Supreme Court Ruling “Good News Club v. Milford Central School,” which decided that the government cannot discriminate against religious speech in a public forum. The TST says starting the ASSC was to ensure that students were being provided a diverse range of options for after school engagement.
At Lewis & Clark College, students who are personally interested in exploring their own faith or learning about others have the option to check out the resources provided by the Interfaith Council. A lot of information is available online and students are free to check it out at https://www.lclark.edu/offices/spiritual_life/ on their own accord.