Satanic Temple uses ‘religious freedom’ argument to defy Indiana’s fetal burial law

In April, The Satanic Temple announced that the IRS had approved them to be a fully tax-exempt church. Yesterday, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the state’s fetal burial law. These two events have now come together to give the Temple another golden opportunity to troll right-wing Christians.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the Temple announced that as an IRS-approved religious organization, the Indiana law violates one of its seven tenets and therefore doesn’t apply to them.

“One of The Satanic Temple’s fundamental tenets is the inviolability of one’s body,” the statement read. “Members of The Satanic Temple believe that non-viable fetal tissue is part of the woman who carries it, and as such, state impositions of ceremonial requirements dictating its disposal, barring any plausible medical or sanitary concerns, is a violation of TST’s Free Exercise allowing Satanists to contextualize the termination of a pregnancy on their own terms, with deference to their own religion beliefs. As such, TST affirms that this rule violates their religious beliefs and asserts that their members may refuse to adhere.”

In other words, the Temple is taking the “religious freedom” argument Christian fundamentalists use to undermine things such as LGBT rights and is using it against them.

Quoting Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves, the statement went on to declare that “members of The Satanic Temple will not be made to pay for these punitive, superfluous, and insulting burials.”

“We claim exemption on religious liberty grounds, and we will almost certainly prevail in the courts if we are forced to fight,” Greaves continued. “It’s time that petty sanctimonious panderers like Vice President Mike Pence, who signed this law as governor, come to realize that religious liberty means freedom from unreasonable government imposition upon religious opinion and practice — not his own ‘freedom’ to impose a particular religiously-dictated practice upon the electorate whom he serves.”

NPR reported this Tuesday that Indiana’s Supreme Court is leaving in place part of the Indiana law that mandates that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.

The court did not take up a second part of the law that banned abortions because of fetal abnormality, the fetus’s race, sex or ancestry. A lower court struck down that part of the law in addition to the burial provision. The Supreme Court, though, said it will wait for other lower court rulings before weighing in on the fetal characteristics provision.

As DeadState has pointed out many times before, the Temple’s history of successfully trolling the Religious Right has beein an effective tool in putting the’ “religious freedom” arguments Christian activists use to the test. The Temple’s mission is to take the far-right Christian drive for religious superiority in the public sphere and use it against them. 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.

Featured image: The Satanic Temple/Facebook 

Sky Palma

Before launching DeadState back in 2012, Sky Palma has been blogging about politics, social issues and religion for over a decade. He lives in Los Angeles and also enjoys Brazilian jiu jitsu, chess, music and art.