Do you know how those moments come up in your life and most would tell you it’s just a coincidence, but you know better? Had one of those the other day. I was returning a video to Redbox (yes, I still rent actual disks), and just randomly turned on the radio. It landed on NPR. As a trained Christian Apologist, I know it’s a good idea to educate myself on different views and contrasting opinions. And there are certainly some interesting shows on NPR! I think the Lord wanted me to land on this station simply to hear this interview—what I was about to listen to highlighted, to me, just how far we’ve drifted from the United States original Christian foundations. Having veered off that path, we are now whacking our way through jungles of behavioral boundary pushing.
NPR was interviewed a professing Satanist. He spoke about a documentary movie that’s he helped produced called, “Hail Satan?” which chronicles the rise of the Satanic Temple. The overarching intention of the film is to try and change people’s minds about this so-called “religion.” Are they serious?
The Satanic Temple was founded in 2013 in Salem, Massachusetts, initially as a prank but quickly gained authentic followers. The intent was to challenge Christian symbols, like displays of the Ten Commandments (in Arkansas), the teaching of religion in public schools (where does that even happen today?), and to target some pastors and other political figures who are professing Christians. They are testing the First Amendment by challenging that if the government opens in Christian prayer, for example, then it’s only fair that other “prayers” be allowed; or, if a Christian monument is allowed on public lands, then a Satanic one should be displayed, as well.
And this group has erected a statue of its own. The ‘Baphomet’ bronze sculpture, a goat-headed beast with two “adoring” children gazing up at it, defiantly stands over 8-feet tall in its hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, after winning litigation that got the removal of the Ten Commandments display from the Oklahoma State Capitol.
But the Satanic Temple’s goal isn’t to remove Christian monuments – it is to erect Satanic ones. They won in Illinois, where the group was allowed a spot near the annual Christmas tree and Menorah. It displayed a sculpture with a forearm of a young woman wrapped in a coiled snake, holding an apple with a sign stating: “Knowledge is the greatest gift.” This, of course, is mocking the traditional Biblical story of the fruit eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The Satanic Temple will also be getting what all other, traditional religious faiths have received—tax exempt status. The IRS just granted the Satanic Temple non-profit status. Great. The religious tenants of this so-called “religion,” the Satanic followers claim, are a general rebellion against authority, specifically fueled towards Christianity – shocking, I know.
Of this documentary, the spokesperson claims they just want to educate people to change our assumed notion that the United States is a Christian nation, and that the government should not dictate what is considered “acceptable forms” of religious expression. This group thinks that most Americans who believe in God are just “superstitious.” To them, belief in God is believing in myths. This should not endear them to most U.S. citizens.
This is a “non-theistic, Satanic construct,” co-founder and spokesperson of the Satanic Temple, Lucien Greaves, called his religious movement. Someone challenged this description, saying why not just be an atheist? The director of the documentary, Penny Lane, a professed atheist herself, answered that by saying, “Atheism is boring.” Wow. She said that atheism doesn’t give you an organizing set of principles or ethics to live by or a community in which to belong.
“Giving up the idea of religion leaves a gigantic ‘meaning-hole’ in your life,” Lane said.
The sense of common purpose and ethics is what these Satanists are connecting to, recognizing the good in organized religion by a sense of belonging. They’re just copy-cats. Many who reject organized religion join the Satanic Temple, and ultimately “go to church” for that same sense of community that traditional churches have offered.
Greaves (apparently not his real name) said that although they use Satan’s name in their religion, they do not believe Satan is a real spiritual force of evil. They think he is merely a mythological character, and to retain the myth that Satan is the author of evil has done “real, tangible harm in the world,” he said. Greaves claims his religion doesn’t want to get rid of other religions, but that it wants to expand the definition of religion to include people like him.
Yet, Lane directly contradicted Greaves’ claim that the Satanic Temple is not out to rid us of traditional religion. “These old ideas that are hard to get rid of,” she stated.
Lane said that the fear of going to hell and belief in the devil has been used to keep people in line. “Embracing blasphemy, and rejecting the religion that terrorized them, or didn’t allow them to question things, is extremely liberating,” she said.
The group’s statement says: “…it understands the Satanic figure as a symbol of man’s inherent nature, representative of the eternal rebel, enlightened inquiry and personal freedom, rather than a supernatural deity or being.” The see Satan as one who stands up for skepticism, even at great personal cost.
Greaves said that those who think they are: “speaking on behalf of Jesus assume they are morally correct at all time and thus, don’t need to revise their thinking.” As if Christians need to ‘revise’ our thinking? According to Greaves, yes. Hmmm… just what needs revising in Christian morality?
Let’s look at the “morally correct” tenets of what Jesus taught, shall we?
1. Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)
2. To be merciful (Matt. 5:7)
3. Be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9)
4. Don’t hold onto anger or insult others (Matt.5:22)
5. Don’t lust after people (Matt. 5:28)
6. Go the extra mile (Matt. 5:41)
7. Love your enemies (Matt. 5:44)
These are just some of the teachings of Christ. To learn more, please read the New Testament for yourself.
Jesus encouraged his followers to pursue ethical excellence. It’s not easy, to be sure, and many Christians don’t do a great job of living morally upright lives. Yet, that does not negate the standards set by Christ himself. So, I am not seeing where the problem lies with this kind of moral thinking, as Greaves asserts.
Greaves says that we should judge Satanists by their real-world actions. Well, what are those actions, then?
The goals are “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will,” according to the group’s official statement.
Yet, in an interview with reason.com, Lane said that these Satanists don’t care about what people think and rather enjoy “pissing people off along the way.” That sounds so ‘empathetic,’ Ms. Lane.
Continuing to look at what Satanists’ believe, they state that they are guided by the “individual will.” What does that mean, exactly?
Lane said that this group is “atheist at its core.” Then, I wonder, where does an atheists’ moral standard rest, objectively, for human behavior? This is where the Satanists, and atheists in general, have a fatal flaw in their reasoning.
To leave morality up to the ‘individual will’ is a frightening concept. This means that morals are fluid, and what is immoral today can become moral tomorrow, simply due to individual preference.
We don’t have to look far back to see how this “individual will” kind of morality of played out.
Just last century, we have many horrific examples of “individual will” morality. Hitler comes to mind first. He saw the Jewish people as sub-human, and convinced an entire country to murder them by the millions.
Stalin, the dictator of Communist Russia, also had millions murdered in a futile attempt to eradicate “accused enemies of the working class,” a.k.a. religious people or anyone opposed to bowing down to the State.
Fascist Mussolini removed political opposition via the secret police by creating a totalitarian state.
Yes, these are extreme examples of individual will gone bad. I’ve heard some atheists argue against these comparisons, saying atheists can be good without God. But without an objective, moral standard to place human behavior in, who gets to set those standards? You? Me?
For heaven’s sake, it is completely obvious that this atheistic worldview, if allowed to perpetuate and grow, will spawn more leaders like Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.
Despite the Satanists’ angst against anything ‘traditionally
religious’, basing objective moral standards of human behavior in a
transcendent standard (a.k.a. God) is still the best way to manage humanity.
Yes, we can do a better job of it, like allowing people to ask skeptical
questions and doing our best to provide reasonable answers. And yes, we should not
use religion to frighten people or abuse them in any way, shape, or form. But
to succumb to the Satanic Temple’s view of life? Now that is truly a hellish
 This year marks the 70th anniversary of the McCollum v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, forbidding religious instruction in our public schools. It’s also the 55thanniversary of Abington v. Schempp, preventing bible-reading and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.