The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions


Aurora Miller, Staff Writer

“Empathy. Reason. Advocacy.”

If you were to ask most people what the above tagline made them think of, their first answer would likely not be a pentagram. The motto appears at the top of the website of The Satanic Temple (TST), an organization started by Lucien Greaves in 2012. They’re “a symbol of self-love, separation of state and religion, and empathy,” according to freshman satanist Milo Anderson.

In recent months, the Satanic Temple took action against the Texas Heartbeat Act (which bans abortions at six weeks of pregnancy), first with a failed lawsuit and second with a declaration that abortion is a religious ritual, where they wrote to the FDA claiming rights to medical abortion drugs as a faith-based right. The Satanic Temple has congregations around the country, one of which is here in Colorado.

Like many others, I read about the Satanic Temple and found myself surprised that an organization with such an inflammatory name. According to TST, the symbol of Satan represents rebelling against widely accepted authority. They have participated in activism alongside the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Most Satanists don’t actually worship Satan,” Anderson said via text interview. “We’re really just glorified atheists who don’t agree with the homophobic, misogynistic, and racist ideals of Christianity.”

Anderson later clarified that they do not believe that Christianity is inherently bad. “I think Christianity as a religion should be respected, as should every other religion,” Anderson said. “However, I believe we shouldn’t ignore the parts of it, and the few believers in it, that do in fact value racism, homophobia, and misogyny.”

TST hasn’t just attracted the attention of those who agree with their political stances. Creek Teenage Republicans founder James Ruehmann, who dislikes the Satanic Temple, comments that “Of course I’ve heard of the Satanic Temple.”

However, seeing isn’t always believing. “[Although] I do consider it to be a religion, I really don’t like their view on legislative morality,” Ruehmann said. He also said it’s “rich coming from them” when TST declared abortion a religious right.

This brings up a critical flaw in TST’s model: trying to call out the issues in America’s laws around religion while taking advantage of those laws themselves. This immediately alienates skeptics and those who may disagree with its politics.

The Satanic Temple has allies in the outsiders, those who would happily criticize legislation or attend events such as SatanCon, a convention-protest taking place in February 2022. But if TST wants to appeal to those on the fence, they have to change their approach. 

They have to balance firm activism and satirical hypocrisy with logic and education, and an openness to those who may be a part of the religions they’re satirizing.