MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Faith and education leaders are denouncing plans for an After School Satan Club at a Tennessee elementary school but said they would follow the law and allow the organization hosting the club to meet.
Around 40 members of the faith community in Memphis stood united with leaders at Memphis-Shelby County Schools on Wednesday to criticize the planned club and to question The Satanic Temple’s intentions in offering it, according to the Commercial Appeal newspaper. The faith community and educators also wanted to make it clear that students would need signed permission slips to attend and to express support for religious organizations that have partnered with the district, the newspaper reported.
“You see the faith-based community standing here,” said board chair and local pastor Althea Greene, who wore a clerical collar. “We’re going to stand up and we’re going to be vocal. Satan has no room in this district.”
The Satanic Temple plans to host the club at Chimneyrock Elementary School in Cordova. It will begin meeting January 10 in the school’s library and run through the spring semester, according to an announcement Tuesday posted on social media.
A flyer about the club says the Satanic Temple is a nontheistic religion that views Satan “as a literary figure who represents a metaphorical construct of rejecting tyranny and championing the human mind and spirit.”
It says it does not attempt to convert children to any religious ideology but offers activities that “emphasize a scientific, rationalistic, non-superstitious worldview.”
Memphis-Shelby County Schools said in a statement that the district would rent out the space to the nonprofit organization per its policy.
Since the announcement, interim Superintendent Toni Williams said some have demanded that the district ban all faith-based organizations from schools, but that won’t happen.
“As a superintendent, I am duty bound to uphold our board policy, state laws, and the Constitution,” she said during the event. “But let’s not be fooled. Let’s not be fooled by what we’ve seen in the past 24 hours, which is an agenda, initiated to make sure that we cancel all faith-based organizations that partner with our district.”