Christian Science Monitor Asks If Satanists Should Be Allowed to Form Clubs in School… and the Answer is Clear
In an op ed piece in Wednesday’s online version of the Christian Science Monitor staff writer Rowena Lindsay poses the question “Should Satanist Be Allowed to Run After School Clubs in Public Schools?”. The answer is clearly “Yes”. As Ms. Lindsay notes in her articles in a 2001 Supreme Court ruling (Good News Club vs. Milford Central School) the court ruled that the government cannot discriminate against free speech in “limited public forum” – such as after-school clubs in public schools. Those who support Christian clubs are, in many cases, opposed. Based on the CSM’s overview of the issue, though, they don’t have the Constitution on their side:
Rather than advocating evil and devil-worship, the club meetings will focus on games and activities to promote free thinking, according to Lilith Starr, founder of the Satanic Temple of Seattle. After School Satan Clubs have been proposed in Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, Portland, Ore., Tacoma, Wash., Salt Lake City, Tucson, and Los Angeles, and while theses clubs may also be protected under the US constitutional right of freedom of speech and religion, many parents are not happy.
“We believe strongly in religious plurality and we fight for equal representation for all religions,” Lilith Starr, a Harvard graduate, told the Los Angeles Times. “Whenever religion enters the public sphere, like the Good News Club at public schools, we take action to ensure that more than one religious voice is represented, and that is our intent with the After School Satan Club.”
From my perspective Ms. Starr is doing a tremendous public service by engaging the communities in a dialogue about where public support for schools should begin and end. School districts who open the door for any religiously affiliated organization would be hard pressed to close the door on any particular religion and those who close any door would be hard pressed to demonstrate an open and inclusive ethos. In my opinion public schools should serve as a marketplace for ideas and, to the end, should offer as many opportunities for civil public debate on issues as possible and offer students as many avenues to explore as possible.