Last week, the Satanic Temple announced it wants a place on the traditional menu of after-school activities in American elementary education, like sports, scouts, and the increasingly robust, evangelical-sponsored Good News Club. The Internet started freaking out, including, notably, the Liberty Counsel, an organization that purports to argue on behalf of religious freedom (provided that the religion is Christianity, as evidenced by their victories list).
Disappointingly, the bitchingly-acronymed ASS Club seems like it’s going to be way less metal than some of us hoped. “ASSC meetings typically include a healthy snack, literature lesson, creative learning activities, science lesson, puzzle solving and art project,” reads a letter distributed to school leaders. Though typically I would be wary of Satan-repping secularists offering your kid an apple, after talking to Amy Monsky, who co-wrote the ASSC curriculum, my bigger fear is that Lucifer’s youth army will be bored. The group is basically a science and philosophy club going around in devil’s clothing.
“At the beginning of the year, we will start with students talking about themselves,” Monsky explains of the planned, Beelzebub-agnostic trajectory. “Then we move from themselves to others to their communities to the world and giving back.” Students should finish the year with community service goals for the summer, like sending cards to patients in nursing homes. Not exactly a hell-raising time.
Other ambitions for the club include lots of ethical and creative thinking and hands-on activities. Before you get too excited, the ASSC has arts and crafts in mind–not drinking goat’s blood from a communal chalice in the aftermath of ritual sacrifice. For example, the kiddos will make “evolution bracelets” as part of the fall’s lesson plan. “Each bead represents a milestone, like the Big Bang to the beginning of life. Like a bead for the tetrapods,” Monsky says excitedly. “We take a very scientific approach to life.”
In addition to her work for the ASSC, Monsky is the the Regional Director for Camp Quest Southeast, a weeklong celebration of secular-humanist thought for child-philosophers ages 8 to 15.
The Satanic Temple, it turns out, does not actually believe in Satan. They are secularists with a metaphorical conception of the Father of Lies. It’s the theistic satanists, who take a religious stance on the devil, that you need to watch out for. As co-founder and spokesperson for the Temple Lucien Greaves pointed out, “Devil worship doesn’t really make sense to us. Why would you replace one deity with another? One superstition with another?”
Among the districts being targeted by the Temple is Prince George’s County’s, which is currently reviewing a request to start a chapter of the ASS Club at Bradbury Elementary and to set up shop at Back to School Night to advertise the devil’s offering to parents.