The Satanic Temple Doesn't Believe in Satan But They May Sue In His Name Anyway

The Satanic Temple is considering a lawsuit against the state of Mississippi if it adds the words "In God We Trust" to the state flag. The religious entity suggested if God is mentioned, Satan should be, too.

Despite the campaign for his name to be added to the flag, the Satanic Temple doesn't actually worship Satan. It's all part of a campaign for equality and religious freedom.

The temple responded to the pending flag design in a letter to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, Fox News reported. It comes after changes to the Mississippi flag were announced to ensure its current Confederate imagery would be removed. But Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves specified the flag must include the mention to God.

This directly violates the Satanic Temple's beliefs, which advocate for unbiased religious representation. In their mission statement, listed below, the temple actually explains that one of their goals is to disrupt political and social decisions that convey their own religious agendas on the general public.

Newsweek subscription offers >

"The Satanic Temple has publicly confronted hate groups, fought for the abolition of corporal punishment in public schools, applied for equal representation when religious installations are placed on public property, provided religious exemption and legal protection against laws that unscientifically restrict women's reproductive autonomy, exposed harmful pseudo-scientific practitioners in mental health care, organized clubs alongside other religious after-school clubs in schools besieged by proselytizing organizations, and engaged in other advocacy in accordance with our tenets."

The Satanic Temple website FAQ goes on to confirm they truly don't worship Satan. "No, nor do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural," it reveals. "The Satanic Temple believes that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan."

Satanic Temple Statue
The Baphomet statue is seen in the conversion room at the Satanic Temple where a "Hell House" is being held in Salem, Massachusett on October 8, 2019. The Hell House was a parody on a Christian Conversion centre meant to scare atheist and other Satanic Church members. Getty/JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP

Newsweek subscription offers >

So, if they don't truly believe in Satan, why the name? It was chosen for shock factor, and to make a statement about the wide-reaching beliefs about good and evil.

The Satanic Temple Co-Founder Lucien Greaves told Newsweek more about the concept. "We're really a Satanic religion (the only federally recognized and international Satanic religious organization) albeit non-theistic -- our beliefs do not support supernaturalism," he said, before pointing to a former "Letters To Satan" Q&A column which explained the point.

"This question is often the first to trouble and confuse the minds of the many who feel that Satan universally represents all that is horrific and anti-human, and that 'religion' belongs solely to the superstitious," Greaves explained in the column, which was published in both The Detroit Metro Times and The Orlando Weekly in 2014.

"Ours is not the Satan of medieval witch-hunting mythology, but the eternal rebel in opposition to tyranny—the literary Satan best exemplified by authors such as Milton, Blake, Shelley, and Anatole France. The self-identified Satanist embraces their outsider status and is drawn to the forbidden, anomalous, and the hidden. We identify with the symbolism of 'blasphemy' as an expression of liberation from superstition. We bow to no God, or gods, and we reject all arbitrary edicts and unjust authority."

The website expands on the point.

"To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions," the explanation continues. "Satanists should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse."

The Satanic Temple became a religious entity in 2013. While some do consider it a formal religion, many simply refer to The Satanic Temple as an advocacy group. They don't refer to scripture, Satanic or otherwise.

This article was updated to include comment from Lucien Greaves.

The Satanic Temple Doesn't Believe in Satan But They May Sue In His Name Anyway | Culture