The Satanic Temple — the activist group known for working to build a monument to Satan at the Oklahoma State Capitol next to a monument of the Ten Commandments, among other pursuits — will form its first chapter house in Detroit, spokespeople from the group tell Metro Times
Doug Mesner, aka "Lucien Greaves," (who we interviewed earlier this year
), says that though no firm location or even date of opening is set, the Detroit chapter house will be the group's first.
Heading the operations locally will be a woman known as "Jex Blackmore." ("We get a lot in the way of death threats and that kind of thing," Mesner explains. "I encourage people to maintain a pseudonym.") Blackmore, who is from metro Detroit originally, met Mesner a year and a half ago at a lecture at Harvard, and began working with them as a consultant shortly after.
Blackmore says they are looking at various properties, including one in Corktown. "The preference would be for it to be visible, that it's a community-type center and a place where people can feel safe," Blackmore says. "We need to see how things play out here. Our number one priority is that everyone feels comfortable and safe. If it doesn't meet the needs of our members to be public, then we might make a decision to make a private location. We would prefer not to do that, though," she says.
Mesner explains that the goal is "to have a local presence and serve as a network for outsiders who self-identified as satanists who are drawn to the obscure, anomalous, bizarre, forbidden, and be a physical presence." It will be open to the public for certain hours, provide literature, a meeting space, and even perform traditional church services like marriages and funerals.
Mesner says that Detroit's reputation as an underdog, as well its history of nurturing rebellious underground artistic communities, made it an appealing location for the Satanic Temple's flagship chapter house. It should also be noted that Mesner is from the Detroit area originally as well.
When asked what separates the Satanic Temple from other places of worship, Mesner says "we promote a distinction between religion and superstition. We don't worship Satan as an actual conscious entity. We don't endorse supernatural explanations of the world. We do, however, have a community that has shared values and aesthetic and symbolic structures and practice that provides all the necessary elements of a religion.
"To insist that a religion must necessarily prescribe to supernatural beliefs is philosophically insulting to us," he says. "In that sense, you could call it a place of worship, as long as you understand that."
Blackmore likens the Satanic Temple to biker club chapter houses. "Not that I would say we have necessarily the same kinds of beliefs as biker clubs, but they have a very visible presence and a sordid history with the church and other conservative-type people."
Mesner says the group is speaking with a broker today, and that they consider the Detroit chapter active. "Jex is pretty much ready to go," he says. "She'll be at Dally in the Alley, and she's already networking with people." The local chapter has already launched an effort against Michigan's informed consent laws
, which require women to read state-mandated and state-written materials before receiving an abortion.
More information is available at thesatanictempledetroit.com