Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Satanic Coloring Book Having Intended Effect

As I covered back in September, The Satanic Temple is now distributing "The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities" at schools in Orange County, Florida. The book was created in response to a decision allowing a church group to distribute religious materials on school grounds, which the Temple in no way supports. Instead, it issued its own literature to point out to the board how inappropriate the ruling was and essentially embarrass them into changing the policy. According to a recent statement from the board chairman, it seems to be working.

"This really has, frankly, gotten out of hand," board chairman Bill Sublette said during a workshop on Thursday. "I think we've seen a group or groups take advantage of the open forum we've had." Though the board discussed reversing the policy on Thursday, it won't vote on the matter until early next year. The policy allows groups to hand out Bibles and some atheist pamphlets, and the Satanic Temple decided to start handing out its own materials about Satanism to make sure that students are exposed to various beliefs.

"We would never seek to establish a precedent of disseminating our religious materials in public schools because we believe our constitutional values are better served by respecting a strong separation of Church and State," Doug Mesner, co-founder and spokesman for The Satanic Temple, said in a statement under the pseudonym Lucien Greaves. "However, if a public school board is going to allow religious pamphlets and full Bibles to be distributed to students — as is the case in Orange County, Florida — we think the responsible thing to do is to ensure that these students are given access to a variety of differing religious opinions, as opposed to standing idly by while one religious voice dominates the discourse and delivers propaganda to youth."

See, where I part company with The Satanic Temple is that I'm completely fine with an open forum, if that's what it is. If one religion can distribute materials in school, all others must have equal access to do the same - and really, to my way of thinking that's a better state of affairs than no representation of religious beliefs at all. The problem is that most of the time, these moves are little more than a veiled attempt to secure special access and privileges for Christians, which to members of minority religions like me is just not okay.

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