TUSCON, Ariz. — At least for the present, an Arizona school district has rejected an atheist group’s “After School Satan Club,” a national effort that was launched in order to make a point about Bible clubs in public schools, as it notes that the organization must have a faculty sponsor in order to proceed with its application.
“Recent media reports have brought attention to a request by The Satanic Temple to hold an ‘After School Satan Club’ at Roskruge Bilingual K-8,” the Tuscon Unified School District wrote on its website this week in a post entitled “To the community: Satanic Temple club NOT offered on a TUSD campus.”
“Our legal counsel has referred the organization to our policy requirements regarding after school clubs,” it said. “The suggested club does not currently meet the minimum requirement of having a faculty sponsor for the operation of any student club on a Tucson Unified School District campus.”
As previously reported, Satanic Temple Co-Founder Doug Mesner, who goes by the name Lucien Greaves, outlined on a website dedicated to the effort that its goal is to place clubs in districts where Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is hosting after-school Good News Clubs.
“All of the districts we’ve approached are nearby to local chapters of The Satanic Temple, and each school district has hosted, or is now hosting, Good News Clubs in their schools,” he said.
“The Satanic Temple does not advocate for religion in schools. However, once religion invades schools, as The Good News Clubs have, The Satanic Temple will fight to ensure that plurality and true religious liberty are respected,” the group’s website also outlines.
“This being the case, we are sure that the school districts we’ve approached are well aware that they are not at liberty to deny us use of their facilities, nor are they at liberty to deny us any level of representation in the schools that they afford to other school clubs—such as fliers, tables, brochures, and school-wide announcements,” Greaves said.
He explained that districts across the country have been sent letters about The Satanic Temple’s intentions to offer the club in schools.
“It’s important that children be given an opportunity to realize that the evangelical materials now creeping into their schools are representative of but one religious opinion amongst many,” Greaves said. “While the Good News Clubs focus on indoctrination, instilling them with a fear of Hell and God’s wrath, After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us.”
But the Tuscon Unified School District says that The Satanic Temple doesn’t have a faculty sponsor for the club, and therefore, the After School Satan Club will not be offered at Roskruge Bilingual. It pointed to its club policy, which reads, “With the principal’s approval, a school club may be formed (1) if it is determined there is student interest, and (2) providing the club is sponsored, co-sponsored, or monitored by a faculty member.”
The Satanic Temple told the Arizona Daily Star that it is working to find a sponsor as directed.
However, the district also advised in its public statement that it has asked The Satanic Temple to remove its name from its website. It asserted that the After School Satan Club website incorrectly states that the club is being offered at Roskruge, but the site only lists the school as being among the locations where the group has “offered to present our curriculum.”
Other schools listed on the site include Still Elementary School in Cobb Springs, Georgia, Chase Street Elementary School in Panorama City, California and Watkins Elementary School in Springfield, Missouri.