A critique of the Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets

It occurred to me recently that, because of my more critical stance on The Satanic Temple, I should do a critique on their seven main tenets. I’ll do this the same way I did my critique of the 11 Luciferian Points of Power.

  1. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
  2. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
  3. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
  4. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
  5. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
  6. People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
  7. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Now here’s my take on each of them.

  1. It’s very telling that this is the first tenet because this is one of the main points of divergence from other variants of Satanism, particularly the original Satanism espoused by Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan that founded. Compassion and empathy for all creatures sounds like something a Christian, a Hindu or a Buddhist might espouse, even if placed within the confines of reason. I would think that, for a Satanist, it is best to show compassion and empathy only to those that deserve it. I do not think you can show compassion and empathy to all things without being a bodhisattva.
  2. What is being stated here? Is justice being defined as something that takes primacy over the law, rather than something that is propagated through the rule of law? If that’s the case, I don’t think I like where this is heading. The only way to achieve “justice” outside the rule of law is through vigilantism. Or, alternatively, trial by public opinion as is fashionable in the modern age. Do you know what that means? It means that someone can be accused of rape, he would be found not guilty in a court of law, but he would be still be hounded by people who misguidedly believe that the voices of the “victims” have been silenced or that they matter more than an impartial ruling. Such a culture would end in the presumption of guilt, rather than the presumption of innocence. Is that justice? I would usually emphatically say no.
  3. Fair enough. I suppose this is the main justification for your abortion-related activism and your support of Planned Parenthood, but it is a fine tenet. But if we are going to talk about abortion, what about the body of the fetus? Is it your body to do with as you wish? And we’re not talking about a body part that you modify in accordance with your desires, but rather a growing life-form that depends on the body of the mother and will eventually become conscious and alive.
  4. Does that include bakeries? Don’t get me wrong I agree with the principle, but I’m curious if they’re willing to include freedom of conscience for private business owners on that list as well. I won’t be surprised if they aren’t, by the way.
  5. I may hold you to that. But seriously, this is essentially a statement that objective reality, determined by the best scientific understanding currently available, is the ideal basis for forming your worldview. No real issues here. In fact, you could argue that the same, or similar, rationalist approach is found within the Church of Satan and The Sect of the Horned God.
  6. The point here is pretty straightforward: nobody’s perfect, so don’t try and act you are and make up for what what mistakes you make instead of justifying them. That’s completely fine in my books.
  7. Except for #2, clearly. But anyways, we get the clear sense that the aim is to propagate the values of compassion, justice and benevolence, whatever those things entail in their minds. This, again, establishes divergence from pretty much most other forms of Satanism – which makes it interesting how both the first and last tenets serve this function.
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One response to “A critique of the Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets

  1. “Compassion and empathy for all creatures sounds like something a Christian, a Hindu or a Buddhist might espouse, even if placed within the confines of reason.”

    Well, no, that’s simply not correct. Those religions tell us to be kind to everyone, full stop. That’s an entirely different animal from being compassionate within reason. If these meant the same thing, they would say the same thing.

    Also note the language employed: “compassion” and “empathy,” which are not at all the same thing as doing good works or practicing non-violence or any of the other, much more narrowly tailored instructions that other religions hand out. The wording here is not accidental.

    “I do not think you can show compassion and empathy to all things without being a bodhisattva.”

    And the Tenet doesn’t tell us to show compassion to all things. It tells us to “strive within reason.” You can’t just throw away these qualifiers. They’re not there by accident.

    “What is being stated here? Is justice being defined as something that takes primacy over the law, rather than something that is propagated through the rule of law? If that’s the case, I don’t think I like where this is heading.”

    Really? Why not? It’s hardly a radical position to argue that laws may be wrong and that when they are we must employ our own better judgment. This is what most people believe and abide by anyway. If you think otherwise then that’s your right, but it’s a rather extremist position to take.

    “But if we are going to talk about abortion, what about the body of the fetus? Is it your body to do with as you wish?”

    You know that this is a silly question, even to the point of being intentionally disingenuous. What is a fetus going to do with its body? In quite literal terms, it has no autonomy. American law has made this distinction for decades, so the rest of us ought to be at least equally capable.

    “Does that include bakeries?”

    Yes, of course bakeries have the right to offend us. And then we have the right to react to that offense however we see fit; probably negatively, since that’s part and parcel of what “offend” means. You’ve got to own up to the ramifications of what you say and do, including the legal ramifications.

    Oh, but I did just invoke the law, didn’t I? And we’ve already established that the law isn’t the end all and be all of a dispute, as per the Second Tenet. What happens if these two Tenets seem to conflict? Fortunately, there’s a Seventh Tenet to provide clarity and focus.

    Admittedly, different people might end up reconciling those Tenets in different ways. And that’s good; personally, I’ve had enough of religions that try to portion human experience into rigid “commandments” or “Rules of the Earth.” Better, I think, to push people toward making their own moral decisions, for better or worse. Rules come and go; critical thinking and empathy ought to have a longer shelf life.

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