William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Satanism & Religious Freedom

I have a right to be here, right?

I have a right to be here, right?

Religious freedom is an unalloyed good, isn’t it? The idea was so cherished that it was written into the founding document of our nation. “Congress shall make no law”, and so forth. People ought to be able to practice the religion they like without government interference.

We don’t have only religious freedom in this great nation, but the ideology of Equality, which is the secular doctrine of non-judgmentalism, the sacred belief that no belief is sacred, the tenet that no tenet can be the Truth, a position which translates to the assurance that all religions are mere habits or charming cultural traditions. Equality insists no religion is superior to another, an attitude that drains religion of transcendence.

Marry religious freedom and Equality and you get Satanism. Truly. You’ve seen the headlines: Satanists have petitioned and won the right to offer the convocation at several events, and they’re now asking for the right to form after-school clubs.

We’re talking nerdy, storefront Satanists here, the Saul Alinsky kind who talk (in public) about Lucifer metaphorically, not the serious devotees who shun the public eye. But still. Satanists giving public prayers and guiding your children. And you, under the freedom of religion, made to accept it.

The way these encroachments came about is interesting. For instance, WEAR-TV reports that “David Suhor, co-founder of the local chapter of the Satanic Temple” offered the invocation at a recent Pensacola city council meeting. In winning the right to speak, Suhor told the Washington Post, “When one group wants their message to be the only one and they try to enlist the agenda of the government, people get angry. True religious diversity means I don’t have to respect what you believe, but I’ll defend your right to believe it.” Diversity is a theorem of Equality; it’s worth recalling diversity always leads to mandated quotas.

The Satanic Temple also argued their way into the Phoenix City Council. USA Today reported:

Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilwoman Kate Gallego said they support letting the satanists speak. Stanton released a statement, saying, “the Constitution demands equal treatment under the law” even though he disagrees with the group’s message.

Gallego also pointed to First Amendment protections, adding, “I just believe we’re a diverse society and if we have prayer, we welcome all points of view.”

All points of view? So that if some people openly resurrected the cult of Baal and began sacrificing children (and not just to Planned Parenthood), this would be a bona fide religious practice? Would Gallego defend their rights?

Instead of offering human lives, how about a sect drawing a pentagram around a city? No possibility of harming anybody with that. That’s what happened in Lancaster, California. Christians were there to protest the ritual, which is their right, too. But they couldn’t possibly object to the rite on religious freedom grounds.

Evangelical and other Christian groups have won the legal right to conduct after-school programs in public facilities, a prominent example being the Good News Clubs. Satanists latched onto the legal argument used by these organizations and are using it to place their own After School Satan clubs.

According to The Washington Post, Doug Mesner, a.k.a. Lucien Greaves, said the Satanic Temple is going to “leverage” the same “religious freedom laws that put after-school clubs in elementary schools nationwide.” The legal group that fought for the Good News Clubs, the Liberty Counsel,

agrees that the Satanic Temple has a right to organize its clubs in public schools and takes the view that they can’t be banned so long as they’re not disruptive or engaging in rituals that put people at risk.

“I would definitely oppose after-school Satanic clubs, but they have a First Amendment right to meet,” said Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman.

The Post reminds us that in “2014, after the Supreme Court ruled that the regular recitation of prayers before town meetings did not violate the First Amendment, provided that towns do not discriminate among religions, the Temple decided to test just how much religious liberty towns allowed.”

It was the same story in the Granite School District in Taylorsville, Utah. A spokesperson wrote, “This ‘after-school Satan club’ must, by law, be treated like any other outside entity. If they want to rent a facility after hours and the building is available, they will be permitted to do so.”

It is clear from these examples that government officials will continue to succumbed to the argument that freedom of religion implies the State must not discriminate between religions, and that freedom of religion bars the State from forbidding any religion at State events.

The government is inconsistent, however. For instance, consider that the government routinely admonishes citizens on what to eat, warning of the dangers of certain foodstuffs. Yet, for the most part, the government does not forbid the public access to these supposedly deleterious products, though government often bans the products from government facilities. In the same way, the State could declare Satanism harmful and therefore forbidden at government events. This would not keep Satanists from freely exercising their religion, except on State property. The danger, of course, is that as Christianity wanes, the State could equally decide Christianity is harmful and therefore ban it from public venues, too. There is ample reason to suppose they would. Hillary Clinton said (more than once) that people have to change their religious beliefs on cultural matters, or risk being ostracized.

One extreme or the other will be embraced. Either all religions will be made welcome, and any attempts at protesting a religion’s presence at a public event, such as happened in Pensacola, will be treated harshly, or all religions will be banned. Either choice will accelerate the disappearance of traditional Western religion from public life.

22 Comments

  1. All hail Plankton!

  2. Sacrificing children is a crime, satanism is not. (Only 300 years ago I would have been burned on a stake by devout catholics for this writing)

  3. Religious freedom as it exists today would never have been considered “religious” by the framers of the constitution. Arguments on religious freedom are always made using the Constitution as the guide, ignoring that the writers of the Constitution routinely denied religious freedoms. Even today, Mormons cannot legally have more than one wife so they have “church wives”. The framers of the Constitution were, unfortunately, relying on common sense, which has since died. (I doubt they ever imagined a nation based on “Gimme” and “Fairness” as the outcome of their revolution. They certainly never imagined the tentacles of the government strangling schools, businesses, etc. Government overreach is one of the ways this conundrum evolved and removal of government from everyday life is the only way to fix it. Which will never happen with the “Gimme” mentality. Yep, we’re toast.)

    It will be interesting when burkas are required, female circumcision and sharia law is implemented as part of the freedom of religion. Then there’s live sacrifice of goats, eagle feathers in ceremonies, peyote, etc. What if a religion evolves that includes 24/7 drunkenness as part of its beliefs? How can we deny this group equality? Perhaps one where children are kept inside until they are adults to make sure they are not exposed to bad things? There are no lines at this point. Everyone gets to practice however they want.

    Equality only works in fantasy.

  4. Hans Erran: Your “crime” is another’s religious belief. You’re being narrow-minded and bigoted here.

  5. What a lot of people don’t realize is that “Congress shall make no law … ” meant there should be no national law regarding the specified list. The Amendment doesn’t say “No state shall …”. The freedoms we take for granted are interpretation and not something explicitly stated.

  6. The biggest threat to religious freedom is religious freedom!

    That’s your argument. Either you’re arguing that the freedom is a problem, or that religion is a problem. Which is it?

  7. Sacrificing children is a crime, satanism is not. (Only 300 years ago I would have been burned on a stake by devout catholics for this writing

    No, you wouldn’t have.

  8. In America, it would have been Puritans 350 years ago. In Europe, it would have been Catholics 300 years ago.

  9. I guess this is all about setting demarcation points. When “common sense” (whatever that might be) is ruled out as the guideline, then the demarcation between religious practice that may be oddball and that which is evil becomes blurred and arbitrary. It’s very much like trying to define porn–one man’s pornography is another’s erotic literature, and the only thing we can resort to is Justice Potter Stewart’s remark.”I know it when I see it,” even if he couldn’t define “pornography”.

  10. I am all for inequality as long as I or my group is given the top preference.

    In light of recent posts, what is the essence of human freedom? Perhaps, one will need to know what the essence of human being.

  11. RandyW: This is about common sense and the ability foresee consequences. Granted, the framers of the Constitution did not see the fall into anarchy and even if they had, they probably would have denied it. There is no argument against religion or freedom. Enough freedom or religion abused and we all go down. That’s just the way it is. Humans lack the ability to stop this, so nature corrects us over and over.

  12. This WILL be used by the “force people to acknowledge gay marriage” activists.

    “All points of view? So that if some people openly resurrected the cult of Baal and began sacrificing children (and not just to Planned Parenthood), this would be a bona fide religious practice? Would Gallego defend their rights?”

    The state is an organization that claims a monopoly on the use of force. People engaging in human sacrifice are initiating force and are therefore government agents. That, in turn, is forbidden by the establishment clause.

  13. I want an answer to Randy’s question. I was wondering the same thing.

    JMJ

  14. JMJ: Come on. That is not the true question. As usual our host has helped us out.

    Equality, which is the secular doctrine of non-judgmentalism, the sacred belief that no belief is sacred, the tenet that no tenet can be the Truth, a position which translates to the assurance that all religions are mere habits or charming cultural traditions. Equality insists no religion is superior to another, an attitude that drains religion of transcendence.

    The true question is whether there can be truth? Whether there exist the good old Devil? My response for both is YES.
    So freedom in a sense is just an illusion. If in doubt give a try and fly. Can you? No you can not. Whether you like or not, man per se can not do everything he/she wishes. You can go on and find examples all around for our own boundaries.
    As transcendence and teleology is also an everyday experience. You don’t even have to be a believer, you are still transcendental. At least a very-very large majority is whether they know or not.
    There remains of course what is understood by Truth? Is that a practical truth or an ontological one? How much percent of truth is The Truth?

  15. Truth, to me, is something that is essentially logically true, regardless of conditions. Conditional truths are a subset of these, to me. Consider this singularity. God Is Existence, whole and complete, the substance from Whom all contingent existence exists, when and whether actual or not.

  16. That is fine. Unconditional truths are, however, perhaps less tangible than the conditional ones. My comment was aimed at the everyday experiences in life, which give solid, sometimes rather simple demonstration of otherwise abstract ideas.
    Nothing wrong with the abstractions, of course, as long as one keeps reality in the forefront. Alas, one sees a sort of slipping towards a virtual word closer to tales and dreams than reality. A kind of “red shift”, if I may make a long shot.

  17. Is truth demonstrable? How do you distinguish between truth that is not demonstrable and things that are unfalsifiable untruth? Should we assert things as true before we have a reliable mechanism for determining whether it is actually true?

  18. I don’t worry about this. The satanists will get tired of it and fade away, once they have made their noxious point.

  19. What “noxious point” is that?

  20. RandyW
    August 21, 2016 at 4:52 pm
    ” Is truth demonstrable? How do you distinguish between truth that is not demonstrable and things that are unfalsifiable untruth? Should we assert things as true before we have a reliable mechanism for determining whether it is actually true?”

    Curiously, this seems to be the same question Tom (Aquinas) asked himself and which resulted in the Scholastic Method of investigation he pursued. It’s not so much a matter of “proving” something “true” as “proving” (known) alternatives false.

    If you have no reliable premises from which reliable conclusions can be drawn then any argument falls in a heap of speculations or superstitions.

    Some things can be proved certainly false if they contradict certainly known truths (or real premises).

    The most basic certainly known truths (premises) are self-evident; intuitively known because their only alternative is their contradiction which is self-contradictory and thus absurd.

    Start from there, Randy. After that reality is the limit.

  21. “Sacrificing children is a crime, satanism is not. (Only 300 years ago I would have been burned on a stake by devout catholics for this writing
    No, you wouldn’t have.”
    Oh yes he would, in England,
    No, you’re right!
    It would be in the order of four hundred years ago or more and for far less.

    Witches were burned and drowned, much of this went on because of enforced religious beliefs. A complete failure to recognise the point about freedom and overlooking Jesus in preference to other ‘special books and religious maniacs.
    Catholics thought they could rule with the sword or the threat of violence or shunning or anything else they could muster, as if that reaches the soul or the mind of the person.
    There are criminal laws to cover satanism such as inciting crimes or others which I won’t bother to list. Given that there’s not about to be a list of banned religions people will have to live with it and manage it as best they can.
    Evil and darkness have become the new sexy in media and entertainment. Pulp Fiction was the first example of this which I experienced. The first time I watched a movie and found myself laughing with the criminals, really bad ones. An uncomfortable feeling. The movie looks tame now.

  22. And another poor soul, given an education consisting of myths about the Catholic Church.

    The Catholic Church as an institution fought witch burning. Most of “The Inquisition” was a response to lay people engaging in witch hunts, which the Church took over and, as a result, ended almost all of the persecutions.

    The Catholic Church also did not try to rule by force. Only the Spanish/Portuguese branch, during a time when they failed to heed the Pope, engaged in this behavior.

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