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'Satanic Services' at US Naval Academy? Midshipmen Want 'Satanic Temple' Study Space

10-18-2019
US Naval Academy Chapel
US Naval Academy Chapel

A group of US Naval Academy midshipmen who subscribe to The Satanic Temple have requested that the academy honor their non-theistic beliefs like it does for other faiths. 

The Military Times Observation Post reports that an October 8 internal email leaked out which said "Satanic Services" would soon be offered there on the campus located in Annapolis, Maryland.

Cmdr. Alana Garas, an academy spokesperson, disputes that report, explaining the midshipmen wanted a "study group space," the Military Times reported.

"A group of Midshipmen with beliefs aligned with those practiced by The Satanic Temple… requested a space where they could assemble to discuss and share their common beliefs," Garas wrote in an email. "The request was for a 'study group' space, not for holding 'satanic services.'"

She went on to say that the email was circulated prematurely before officially approved.

"This email was sent without the review and approval of the Naval Academy's command chaplain, as required by command policy," Garas said, according to Fox News. "It did not represent the US Naval Academy's Command Religious Program."

The Military Times also reported that Garas warned students who adhere to the "politically active" Satanic Temple from taking part in its political aspect, so it wouldn't seem like the Pentagon endorses those actions.

"Midshipmen have the right to assemble to discuss their beliefs as they choose, but, to be clear... military members will not engage in partisan political activities, and will avoid the inference that their activities may appear to imply DoD approval or endorsement of a political cause," Garas said.

Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves pushed back.

"The notion that members of The Satanic Temple within the Naval Academy could be denied the right to hold services because we are non-theistic and/or politically active has absolutely no credible basis in law or common sense," he said, according to Fox News.

"The Satanic Temple is no more a political cause than the Catholic Church or Southern Baptists," Greaves added.

Garas went on to say that before the original email leaked out, "arrangements were being made to provide the Midshipmen with a designated place to assemble as chaplains facilitate the beliefs of all service members, a responsibility outlined by Navy instructions."

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