Parents of students at Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia are voicing concern over a new after-school program titled “After-School Satan Club (ASSC)” which is gearing up to have its first session in a few weeks at a elementary school within the district, WTKR reports.
“But now, it’s okay to have devil worshipping in school around impressionable minds and age,” parent Melanie Ballard told WTKR. “Children absorb everything they see and hear and they model what they see adults do.”
The club’s campaign director says the club has nothing to do with the supernatural and it’s only concerned with encouraging evidence-based discussion and rational debate.
“We do not believe in a supernatural Satan as a symbol because legend has it that Satan was the first to start asking questions and was cast out of heaven for that reason,” ASSC’s June Everett said. As WTKR’s report points out, the club’s flyer insists it’s not looking to convert children into any sort of religion and only wants to encourage them to look at the world scientifically.
“A lot of the activities are based on community projects or different kinds of crafts that you can share with families or friends. They can color in a book or make a friendship bracelet,” Everette said.
“If we were to name it something like the ‘Fluffy Bunnies’ or ‘Rainbow Club’ and people were to find out it was run by the Satanic Temple, that would be worse,” Everette continued. “We do get a lot of people who say, ‘Why don’t you call it the afterschool science club or afterschool critical thinking club?’ We could do that, but then when people find out it’s run by the Satanic Temple and that Satanists are the ones running the club, we feel that will create more of a problem.”
University of Richmond law professor Jack Preis told WTKR that Chesapeake Public Schools don’t really have a choice when it come to allowing the Satan Club because if the school is going to allow one religious club to meet, all other clubs must be allowed — regardless of religion — thanks to the First Amendment.
In a statement released on Friday, Chesapeake Public Schools clarified that the club is not district-approved but stated that they are required by law to allow ASSC to host a class.
“The School District has long held policies and procedures in place which allow varied community groups to use our publicly funded facilities outside of the school day. This is common practice among school districts around the state and nation. Over the years, different religious groups have requested and been allowed to rent our facilities after hours. By law, CPS cannot discriminate based on beliefs among groups wishing to rent our facilities,” the statement read. “Consistent with the law as detailed above and the criteria set out in the CPS Board policy regarding community use of facilities, the School District has approved a building use request from an organization known as the ‘After School Satan Club’ (ASSC) to host gatherings after school hours at B.M. Williams Primary School.”
The statement went to say that the School Board will address the club at its next meeting where parents can voice their concerns directly.