Apparently, all is not well in the realm of Satanism.
Following news that the Satanic Temple will be setting up their first chapter house here in Detroit, a rival group — the Temples of Satan — told the Free Press their list of grievances about those other Satanists.
The problem, according to Temples of Satan, is the Satanic Temple doesn't actually worship Satan as a deity. According to "The Satanic Temple: Frequently Asked Questions," a pamphlet distributed at Dally in the Alley, the Satanic Temple does "not believe in either God or the Devil as supernatural forces." In the Satanic Temple, Satan is a metaphor for the "eternal rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority," or a "metaphorical construct."
The Temples of Satan, on the other hand, actually does worship Satan. And they take issue with what they see as a group of atheists appropriating their religion.
"They are not Satanists," Cindy Fleming of the Oxford, Mich.-based Temples of Satan told the Free Press regarding the Satanic Temple. "If they want to speak on behalf of a political agenda, they need to do it as the atheists they are. They do not need to use a religion. They don’t believe in anything, any religion — so why are they using a religion to do it? That is hypocritical, it’s an oxymoron and it’s not even credible."
Fleming also said that the Satanic Temple does not speak on behalf of all Satanists. "They cannot, and nor do they, speak on behalf of the rest of the Satanic community, that believe in the creator, who we call Satan ... the one that predates Christianity," she said. "The one who is in the first creation epic, who fought the dragon Tiamat for mankind."
Confused yet? There's also the Church of Satan, which distances itself from the Satanic Temple as well. As the Freep pointed out, disagreeing groups within a religion are present in just about about every religion.
Speaking of the Freep, an amusing aspect of their coverage was their fixation on the rival factions' social media numbers. They point out that the Satanic Temple has 10,000 likes on Facebook, while the Temples of Satan's leader, Rev. Tom Erik Raspotnik has 17,000 Twitter followers — as if this means anything. Don't they know these days you can just buy Twitter followers? It's the perils of starting a religion in the digital age.
In other Satanic news, our sister publication Orlando Weekly notes that the Satanic Temple announced it will distribute literature in Florida public schools in response to the school board's decision to allow Evangelical materials to be distributed on school grounds. We asked the Satanic Temple if they will disseminate Satanic literature in Michigan schools, and spokesperson Doug Mesner responded:
It's important to recognize that we are only distributing Satanic literature in school districts that have already allowed the encroachment of religious materials. We are not seeking to disseminate our materials alone, or looking to impose policies that allow for religious propaganda to be presented to students. To the contrary, we feel that it is best that religious literature be kept out of public schools. However, in the case that some witless School Board seeks to impose such indoctrination upon their students — as in the case of Orange County, Florida — we feel that the best antidote is to meet their material in kind; to show the students that there are multiple voices and multiple choices. In fact, this ill-contrived move by the Florida school district puts us in a position of unique advantage: Surely, almost all of the students are generally aware of Christian literature and the Bible. However, they may have had no exposure at all to actual Satanism. We feel quite confident that — given the choice between tired Evangelical texts and Satanic literature — Satan will prove remarkably popular with the kids. Rest assured, we will happily appear at any school district in Michigan that might allow for religious literature to be disseminated to their students. When the school boards create that opening between the line separating Church and State, The Satanic Temple considers itself explicitly invited.