Members of the Satanic Temple want to start "After School Satan Clubs" in elementary schools across America in an effort to push back against Christian clubs, according to The Washington Post.
Chapter leaders from New York, Boston, Utah and Arizona met in Salem, Massachusetts, to discuss their plans on July 10. They were joined online by others from Detroit, Florida, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and San Jose.
Their strategy: target districts where schools host an after-school Christian program called the Good News Club.
The group plans to introduce the clubs this week; it's petitioning school leaders to grant them permission to start when the school year begins.
"It's critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think," Doug Mesner, the Satanic Temple's co-founder, who also goes by the name Lucien Greaves, told the Post.
The newspaper reports that the Satanic Temple's goal is not for elementary students to worship the devil. The group doesn't hold to a belief in Satan and it is against every type of supernaturalism, according to the Post.
Greaves said "Satan" is a "metaphorical construct" which symbolizes taking a stand against all forms of repression of the human mind.
"While the Good News Clubs focus on indoctrination, instilling children with a fear of hell and God's wrath, After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism," Greaves said. "We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of an everlasting other-worldly horror."
The Good News Club's website says, "Each club includes a clear presentation of the Gospel and an opportunity for children to trust the Lord Jesus as Savior. Every club also includes strong discipleship training to build character and strengthen moral and spiritual growth."
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that banning an after-school program because of the sponsors' religious views went against freedom of speech. The case utilized the resources of Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel, organizations which promote religious freedom.
"We would like to thank the Liberty Counsel specifically for opening the doors to the After School Satan Clubs through their dedication to religious liberty," Greaves told the meeting of chapter heads in Salem. "So, 'the Satanic Temple leverages religious freedom laws that put after-school clubs in elementary schools nationwide.' That's going to be the message."
"I would definitely oppose after-school Satanic clubs, but they have a First Amendment right to meet," Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel's founder and chairman, told the Post. "I suspect, in this particular case, I can't imagine there's going to be a lot of students participating in this."
"It's probably dust they're kicking up and is likely to fade away in the near future for lack of interest," he continued.