(CNSNews.com) – The Satanic Temple of Seattle (TST) announced on Tuesday that it plans to start an “After School Satan Club” (ASSC) at Point Defiance Elementary School in Washington State’s Tacoma Public Schools District.
The Satanic group withdrew its previous request to start the club at Centennial Elementary School in the Mount Vernon School District after learning the club would not be able to meet until several hours after school let out due to other after-school activities sponsored by the district.
"We have our own school activities and that includes our own after-school program," said Centennial Elementary School Principal Erwin Stroosma. "When that kind of stuff is going on, we don't allow other organizations to rent the facility."
“We’ve found that Point Defiance is better suited to hosting our pilot program,” the Satanic group stated on its website.
"I don't mind that we made a switch," said Lilith Starr, head of the TST chapter. "[The national organization wants] us to go somewhere where we can try to get in as soon as possible."
The TST filed its application to start an after-school club back in August after learning that Centennial Elementary had a Good News Bible Club, a ministry of the Child Evangelism Fellowship, which hosts weekly bible lessons.
The Satanic group's website states that one of its goals is to place an “ASSC in every school where the Good News Clubs, or other proselytizing religious groups, have established a presence.”
The Good News Bible Club also withdrew its request to use space at Centennial Elementary due to the same time and space constraints, though the Christian group has rental space applications pending at four other elementary schools in the Mount Vernon district.
The initial announcement that the Satanic group would start an ASSC at Centennial prompted many parents to express their concerns.
When one parent attending a school board meeting in September asked how many other parents didn't want the club there to raise their hands, nearly everyone in attendance reportedly did so.
"We didn't invite them to the school, they put our name on a website," Principal Stroosma said. "We fell like we're pawns in a game - someone else is manipulating us."
"This is going to be infectious and widespread," said Mike Cheek, whose grandchildren attend school in the district. "I know that if there is anything to do with Satan, it is dark and it is evil.”
In September, Seattle attorney Duncan Forbes advised the school district to approve the TST application under the threat of “costly litigation,” ironically citing a Supreme Court case won by the Good News Bible Club, which according to its website “teaches morals and respect for others, helps build character, strengthens families, assists schools and encourages children.”
Forbes pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 2001 case, Good News Bible Club vs. Milford Central School District, that if schools allow an outside organization to use their property, then they must do so for all organizations, religious or secular.
While TST claims be an atheist activist group, its website states that the group “celebrates the literary Satan as a potent symbol of rebellion against tyranny.”
“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,” the website claims.
Eight other elementary schools in the country that have Good News Bible Clubs have also received similar applications from the TST.