MOLINE, Ill. (WHBF) — Many local parents are upset about planned after-school meetings by a group called The Satanic Temple at Jane Addams Elementary School in Moline.
The After School Satan Club met for the first time at the school on Thursday. They have additional meetings planned for Feb. 10, March 10, April 14, and May 12. A flyer about the club says the activities will include science projects, puzzles, games, arts and crafts projects, and nature activities.
Moline-Coal Valley School District spokeswoman Candace Sountris said Tuesday that there is concern and confusion over this upcoming after-school club at Jane Addams Elementary.
“The Moline-Coal Valley School District and Board of Education have policies and administrative procedures in place which allow for community use of its publicly funded facilities outside the school day,” the district statement said Tuesday, noting it doesn’t discriminate against any groups who wish to rent public facilities, including religious-affiliated groups.
“Religiously affiliated groups are among those allowed to rent our facilities for a fee,” the district said. “The district has, in the past, approved these types of groups, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism fellowship group. Flyers and promotional materials for these types of groups are approved for lobby posting or display only, and not for mass distribution.
“Students or parents are then able to pick up the flyer from the lobby, if they so choose, which is aligned to District policy,” the statement says. “Please note that the district must provide equal access to all groups and that students need parental permission to attend any after-school event. Our focus remains on student safety and student achievement.”
According to The Satanic Temple website, the mission of the nationwide group says it is to “encourage benevolence and empathy, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense, oppose injustice and undertake noble pursuits.”
Among its fundamental tenets are:
- One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.
- The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
- One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
- 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 one’s own.
The group — which distributes “Devil’s Advocate” scholarships to students — has become the primary religious Satanic organization in the world with congregations internationally, and a number of high-profile public campaigns designed to preserve and advance secularism and individual liberties, the website says.
“The rise of The Satanic Temple has been met with an increase in commentary regarding what Satanism is as media outlets struggle to grasp how this upstart religion has begun to shift religious liberty debates with claims of equal access,” the site says.
A Facebook post Monday from Moline parent Necia Cole (attaching a photo of the club flyer) was met with incredulous responses, including this: “Wait what????? How is this even a thing? Who approved this? I just know they’re about to catch hell because I would be going tf off.”
Cole added to her post Tuesday: “I will add that the flyer was only allowed due to the rules and regulations that the school has to allow it. My kids attend a pretty good school. I may also add that no teacher physically passed out the flyers.”