'After School Satan' Club Coming To Tacoma Elementary School
Leaders of the Satanic Temple of Seattle say they've been approved to launch an after-school club at Tacoma's Point Defiance Elementary School this winter.
Temple leaders applied with Tacoma Public Schools to start the club in mid-October, after abandoning a similar proposal in Mount Vernon because school facilities there would not have been available until April.
The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Massachusetts, calls itself a non-theistic religion espousing rational thought and empathy. Members don't believe in supernatural beings, including Satan, but say the figure is a symbol of independence and standing up to authority.
Lilith Starr, who leads the temple's Seattle chapter, said parents have expressed fear and anger on Facebook, but shouldn't be worried.
"Members of the Satanic Temple will be leading kids in art projects and puzzles and games that will help teach the kids science and rationalism and critical thinking skills they will need to make their own choices about the world," she said.
"We're not there to convert them to Satanism or prosthelytize," she added.
Satanic Temple leaders say they are trying to start clubs around the county to counter the growth of a school-based Christian organization called the Good News Club.
Starr said her chapter chose Point Defiance Elementary School because the Good News Club operates there.
She said she believes teaching critical thinking will prove especially important in the wake of the election.
"We expect to see more theocracy, more creationism, more religion taught in schools," she said. "We're there to kind of protect kids as much as we can from that and to offer another scientific, rationalist view."
Tacoma stands to have the second After School Satan club in the nation. Starr said another chapter has been approved to start a club in Portland, Oregon.
The After School Satan club is hosting a December 14 open house for parents, students, teachers, and staff at Point Defiance Elementary School.
Meetings are to begin immediately after school in the school's art room and end at 3:30 p.m.