Once again The Satanic Temple is making an effort to reach out to children by spreading its teachings and philosophy through schools. This time they are doing so through an after school program, which they call After School Satan, that they plan to introduce to American elementary schools. They released a video yesterday explaining how they envisage the program to be. Predictably, The Satanic Temple justify this program by pointing out that evangelical Christians (*sigh* those guys again, they’re almost not worth it at this point) hold their own religious programs in elementary schools across America. In the video description, the Satanic Temple refer to an organization called the Child Evangelism Fellowship, a group aimed at spreading the Christian gospel to children (as the name would suggest).
While I do personally bemoan the sport of going after Christians as opposed to going after Islam – the more pertinent religious threat at large in today’s world – because I see evangelical Christians as the easy target, there is some validity to The Satanic Temple’s concern regarding the CEF, specifically the Good News Clubs they operate. A Good News Club is an after-school Christian education (or, arguably, indoctrination) program aimed at elementary school children. These clubs feature Bible lessons and promise fun activities such as songs and games centered around the gospel. However, these programs seem to be accused of indoctrinating children through shame and regular proselytizing about sin and eternal damnation in Hell, and avoiding that through obedience to Jehovah. Just take a look these books they hand about shame. In addition, according to journalist Katherine Stewart, there are about 3,000 of these Good News Clubs nationwide. Evidently The Satanic Temple feels that the best way to oppose Christian indoctrination is by setting up their own programs with their own activities in opposition to the Good News Clubs in order to teach a different set of values.
It’s worth noting that The Satanic Temple aren’t the only organization setting up its own counter-Good News Club program. There is also an organization called the Better News Club, an atheist and humanist organization that has set up Young Skeptics programs. These programs exist to counter the religious indoctrination of these Good News Clubs by teaching skepticism, reason and science and organizing activities themed around that purpose.
Personally, apart from the fact that these programs follow The Satanic Temple’s standard tactic of opposing the presence of Christianity by inserting Satanism in public avenues, I have no major problem with the programs themselves. If anything, thinking about it, I actually believe it to be at least a better idea than the idea of them offering Satanic coloring books last year.
The only other major problem I have is the way the program is the promotional video. To the outsider, the video seems like it’s promoting a horror movie or something like that. I kind of like the video, but that’s because I am a Satanist myself and I like what that program might offer, at least to a child. But at the same time, I think it’s a bit creepy that a video with dark, droning music and sepia-tone imagery that, again, must seem ghoulish to the outsider and possibly to children is a video promoting an after school club intended for school children. I feel like the video is aimed at other Satanists, which is a problem considering that I would imagine the intent is to advertise an after-school program to people who probably aren’t Satanists.