After School Satan Clubs in Public Schools? Hell No. Here’s Why

tst-baph-statueDo Satanists have an absolute right to teach their anti-Christian message to elementary students in public schools?

Earlier this summer, the Satanic Temple released this incredibly creepy promotional video to advertise its new After School Satan Clubs.

Shortly thereafter, Centennial Elementary School, a public school in Mount Vernon, Washington, decided to open its doors to the Satanic Temple, and is permitting an After School Satan Club chapter to hold meetings and events for students on school grounds this school year.

The Seattle Satanic Temple is also considering starting chapters of the club in the Tacoma and Puyallup school districts.

This is not the first time the Satanic Temple, known for their elaborate stunts of political theater, has raised the ire of traditional, God-fearing Americans. They won a court challenge allowing them to place a Satanic holiday display on Florida Capitol grounds in 2014, placed another Satanic “nativity” scene on Michigan Capitol grounds the next year, and successfully goaded a Florida School District into prohibiting the distribution of Christian materials in schools by threatening to distribute Satanic coloring books to students.

The Satanic Temple’s leadership is hoping their entry into public schools will result in the termination of Christian after school clubs by spooking school administrators into preventing all religious groups from hosting voluntary clubs in schools for students.

Every school approached by the atheist organization to start an After School Satan Club also hosts a Good News Club, an interdenominational Christian after school program that many principals credit with noticeably improving behavior among students.

The Satanic Temple – which assures parents it is atheistic despite its copious use of recognizable Satanic imagery and rhetorical appeals to Satan’s rebellion against God – is claiming the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom gives it the right to start after school clubs in public schools. This is especially ironic considering that the American founders who ratified the First Amendment believed that humans beings, created in the image of God, are given religious liberty by God – the same God that the Satanic Temple denies.

Federal courts have already decided that parody religions, which lack sincerely held religious beliefs and are used to advance political agendas, are not entitled to religious protections under the First Amendment. When a “Pastafarian” member of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion (FSMism) sued the Nebraska State Penitentiary where he was a prisoner for refusing to accommodate his religious requests, the U.S. District Court of the District of Nebraska decided,

“The Court finds that FSMism is not a “religion” within the meaning of the relevant federal statutes and constitutional jurisprudence. It is, rather, a parody, intended to advance an argument about science, the evolution of life, and the place of religion in public education. Those are important issues, and FSMism contains a serious argument—but that does not mean that the trappings of the satire used to make that argument are entitled to protection as a ‘religion.’”

The District Court refused to give religious protections to Flying Spaghetti Monster religion, which was formed for political advocacy with the intention of promoting militant atheism and a radical reinterpretation of separation of church and state.

Similarly, the Satanic Temple is a secular advocacy group that seeks to intolerantly mock and parody traditional religions and supplant our Judeo-Christian national heritage.

The “whole purpose” of the After School Satan Clubs “seems to be driven by an animosity toward Christian clubs; hence the provocative name,” said Family Research Council’s Travis Weber.

It is evident, then, that in the words of the U.S. District Court, the Satanic Temple is “not entitled to protection as a ‘religion’” because its brand of Satanism is not a “sincerely held religious belief.”

Additionally, the framers of the Constitution would likely find it inconceivable that the First Amendment is being used to defend the inclusion of atheistic clubs, using the name of Satan, in public schools.

Joseph Story, an early Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote in his Commentaries on the Constitution,

“The real object of the [First] amendment was, not to [encourage], much less advance [Islam], or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian [denominations], and to prevent national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”

He later wrote that,

“Probably at the time of the adoption of the [U.S.] constitution, and of the [First] amendment to it… the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship.”

In fact, the Supreme Court formally declared the United States a Christian nation, legally and historically speaking, in Holy Trinity Church v. United States (1892). And nearly five decades earlier in Vidal v. Girard’s Executors (1844), it stated that public schools have a responsibility to teach the Bible and the Christian religion.

These court cases and the intentions of our founders suggest that the Satanic Temple cannot justify its anti-Christian After School Satan Clubs by appealing to the First Amendment.

Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty law firm, says it will provide pro-bono legal counsel to public schools that refuse the Satanic Temple’s request to start After School Satan Clubs.

“School administrators do not have to tolerate groups that disrupt the school and target other legitimate clubs,” said Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel.

Schools would be wise to recognize that they are under no legal obligation to allow After School Satanic Clubs, and concerned parents should demand no less of their local schools.

This post was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington: http://www.fpiw.org/blog/2016/08/23/satanists-look-to-move-into-washington-elementary-schools/.

Why Schools Aren’t The Place to Learn About Gender Identity

classroomWashington State’s new health and physical education standards have provoked a strong backlash from parents and citizens who are outraged that children will be taught about gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation in elementary school. For example, children in third grade will now be taught that they can choose their own gender. Their fourth grade peers will learn about the spectrum of sexual orientation.

Astonished by what their children will be taught under the new standards, parents are left wondering whether public schools are the appropriate forum for dialogue about gender identity and sexual orientation – especially in elementary and middle school.

Parents should be concerned. The latest science supports what we used to regard as commonsense – that teaching very young students about gender identity and alternative sexual lifestyles could be a confusing and harmful experience for them.

The American College of Pediatricians warns against parents, doctors, and teachers encouraging children to undergo gender transition.  “Endorsing gender discordance as normal via public education and legal policies, will confuse children and parents, leading more children to present to ‘gender clinics’ where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs.” The American College of Pediatricians likens the normalizing of transgenderism among children to “child abuse.”

Despite this, Washington’s public education system stands firmly behind its decision to push gender identity and gender expression on students as young as five years old, despite strong warnings from the medical community.

The vast majority of children who struggle with gender identity will eventually outgrow their confusion and accept their biological sex. According to statistics provided on page 455 of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5, as many as 98% of boys and 88% of girls who struggle with gender dysphoria as children will no longer identify as the other gender after finishing puberty.

Gender transition, which is promoted as the solution to gender dysphoria, is also dangerous. Cross-sex hormones present unsafe health risks for the individual undergoing transition. These hormone treatments increase the risk of high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke, and cancer. When children undergo cross-sex hormone therapy, their growth is often inhibited and their fertility is often irreversibly impaired.  The suicide rate among those who have undergone sex reassignment is twenty times higher than that of the general population.

Teaching gender identity and sexual orientation in schools normalizes the behavior. Once the behavior is normalized and students are told they can choose their own gender, we will undoubtedly see an increase in children pursuing harmful hormone therapies and irreversible gender reassignment surgeries.

If public schools rationalize gender dysphoria to young students, why are we to assume that more children won’t be subjected to the associated risks, as the statement by the pediatricians’ association suggests?  Children who would have otherwise never “struggled” with gender dysphoria may now be taught to question their own identity.

Teachers are rarely equipped to teach about topics relating to gender identity and sexual orientation.  Requiring them to teach this information may also cause them to violate their own beliefs.  Additionally, how can parents be sure that their convictions and values will not be undermined by what their children are being taught in school?

Schools should heed the warnings from doctors and researchers. Children are harmed when they are taught that alternative gender identities and sexual orientations are normal. Conversations with children about gender identity and sexual orientation should be left to parents and doctors, not schools.

This post was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington: http://www.fpiw.org/blog/2016/06/07/opinion-why-schools-arent-the-place-to-learn-about-transgenderism/.