After School Satan Club to go ahead despite uproar from faith leaders

US

An After School Satan Club will go ahead despite opposition from faith and education leaders in Tennessee.

Around 40 members of the faith community joined leaders at Memphis-Shelby County Schools to criticise the planned club and to question The Satanic Temple’s intentions in offering it.

According to local newspaper the Commercial Appeal, the protesters wanted to make it clear that students would need signed permission slips to attend and to express support for religious organisations that had partnered with the district.

“You see the faith-based community standing here,” board chair and local pastor Althea Greene told the publication.

“We’re going to stand up and we’re going to be vocal. Satan has no room in this district.”

The After School Satan Club (ASSC) is a federally recognised non-profit organisation and national after-school program with local chapters across the US.

The club, which is associated with the Satanic Temple, plans to host sessions at Chimneyrock Elementary School in Cordova from 10 January in the library.

More on Tennessee

A flyer about the club describes the Satanic Temple 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 “emphasise a scientific, rationalistic, non-superstitious worldview”.

Memphis-Shelby County Schools said in a statement that the district would rent out the space to the non-profit organisation under its current rules.

Since the announcement, interim Superintendent Toni Williams said some have demanded that the district ban all faith-based organisations from schools.

She added: “As a superintendent, I am duty bound to uphold our board policy, state laws, and the Constitution.

“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 organisations that partner with our district.”

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