ILLINOIS — Lucien Greaves understands the backlash that often occurs when parents of elementary school children first see fliers in school buildings introducing the idea of an after-school Satan club.
But he said that once parents took a moment to learn that the club – which should soon begin operating at Addams Elementary School in Moline – had nothing to do with proselytizing young minds to something demonic, the co-founder of The Satanic Temple says things tend to calm down.
But that’s not happening immediately in school districts like the Moline-Coal Valley District, where officials allow the Satanic Temple to rent space to hold meetings that teach individuality, critical thinking, and other tenants. that Satanists promote with their after-school clubs.
The Moline-Coal Valley School Board approved the club using the district space at a meeting last month, WQAD reported. In a statement, the district said it would not discriminate against groups who can rent school property and would provide the same opportunity to the Satanic Temple as groups like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Good NewsClub.
The club does not include the participation of any district teachers and is licensed under a Supreme Court ruling that provides school space for outside groups. The Moline-Coal Valley District previously endorsed the Good News Clubs, an evangelical organization, using school space for after-school meetings.
The Moline-Coal Valley district is the first district in the nation where a new series of clubs will be launched, Greaves told Patch on Friday. The Satanic Temple first started after-school clubs in 2016, but those clubs have since stopped meeting after the group failed to purchase liability insurance. That’s no longer the case, and Greaves said the band plans to expand its collection of after-school clubs.
Greaves said a new round of expansion will depend on parental interest, however, which implies that parents first understand the concept of what the Satanic Temple is trying to accomplish. The Moline-Coal Valley District is one of five districts nationwide that will be part of the next round, he told Patch.
But convincing people takes time.
“People who make the mistake of often thinking that because we look outrageous and we do these bold public maneuvers asking for equal time in a forum where we are well aware that there is a certain population that doesn’t want us there, that our favorite outcome is the outrage and uproar that we’re going to generate by doing this,” Greaves told Patch. “This is not the case.”
He added: “I know a lot of people automatically assume we’re doing this for prank purposes… but after a while, and hopefully not after a long time, the (Satanist) label just doesn’t mean that much. to what actually happens in practice.”
Instead, Greaves said he wants to see positive results emerge from a club that sees Satan as a mythical figure who represents individuality and freedom of choice. But he said that because the word “Satan” is attached not just to the name of the group, but to the name of the afterschool club, people often misinterpret the organization’s mission.
He said the program used by the group enriches the educational prospects of children and does not impose any religious teachings in its after-school clubs. He said the purpose of the classes is not to indoctrinate anyone, but rather to teach students to think for themselves and establish positive feelings about themselves.
The courses, which were established by Satanists, are taught by people who pass background checks and strictly follow the curriculum developed by the organization. According to the group’s website, the goal is to teach students to be more caring, empathetic, problem-solvers and express themselves creatively.
But after the district’s decision to allow the club to meet, parents had mixed feelings. In a statement released this week by Moline-Coal Valley Superintendent Rachel Savage, the district said flyers were placed in the hall of Addams Elementary School stating that parents must sign a release form. so that their children can attend.
The statement says the Satanic Temple has the same rights to use school space as others.
“Illegally denying their organization payment to rent our state-funded, after-hours institution subjects the district to a discrimination lawsuit, which we will not win, likely taking away thousands upon thousands of taxpayer dollars. to our teachers, staff and classrooms,” Savage said in a statement, according to the Quad Cities Area Television Network.
Greaves said that over time, most parents come to appreciate the group’s teachings, which he says makes any initial apprehension worth it. While the founders of the group understand the feelings people may have about the use of the word “Satan” or “Satanic” – or other mythological constructions, the only way to change these thoughts is to show people in what the group consists of.
He said it often comes down to people allowing themselves to accept a different point of view than they have traditionally taken.
“It’s going to be a bit difficult when people go beyond their assumptions, but honestly, after a while when people realize we’re just another point of view…then that shock value s ‘will fade,” Greaves said. “And contrary to popular perception of us, we don’t thrive on shock value. We’ll be fine standing up for our positive values when people aren’t railing against our presence in a public forum.”