In a move that’s likely to make the heads spin of various far-right religious figures, the IRS has reportedly given approval to The Satanic Temple to be a tax-exempt religious institution.
In a statement posted to Instagram, the temple announced that for “the very first time in history, a satanic organization has been recognized by the United States federal government as being a church.”
In another statement published on the website Patheos, temple co-founder and spokesperson Lucien Greaves said that the newly-obtained status will help the church further its activism.
“In light of theocratic assaults upon the Separation of Church and State in the legislative effort to establish a codified place of privilege for one religious viewpoint, we feel that accepting religious tax exemption — rather than renouncing in protest — can help us to better assert our claims to equal access and exemption while laying to rest any suspicion that we don’t meet the qualifications of a true religious organization. Satanism is here to stay,” Greaves wrote.
While the Temple may project the image of a religion that centers around dark themes and the occult, it’s primarily a non-theistic organization that seeks to shine a light on the hypocrisy of religious groups that try to undermine, or reinterpret, the separation of church and state.
“First I think it’s important to understand that we are an atheistic religion,” Greaves said in an interview with the Religion News Service in 2016. “… the religious context we frame our works in and our little subculture in is not dependent on a belief in a literal Satan.”
The Temple’s history of successfully trolling the Religious Right is unprecedented. They’ve put Christians’ “religious freedom” arguments to the test with their “After School Satan” school clubs, they got Arizona Christian lawmakers to ban public prayer, and even had a Satanic-themed coloring book made available for display at an elementary school. The Temple’s mission is to take the far-right Christian drive for religious superiority in the public sphere and use it against them.
H/T Friendly Atheist
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