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Tyree: After School Satan Clubs

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Danny Tyree

Danny Tyree

Sometimes it’s difficult to approach news items with the proper balance of bemusement, curiosity and wariness.

(Sometimes it’s difficult to approach news items at all, when there are shouts of “When are you going to carry out the garbage?” and “That lawn isn’t going to mow itself!” But I digress.)

According to a story at The Hill, After School Satan Clubs have been growing like the Dickens since their establishment at the beginning of 2020.

The clubs are associated with the Satanic Temple (“founded in the Year of Somebody Else’s Lord 2014”) and serve as an alternative to Christian-based extracurricular activities for elementary school students.

Although I authored the 2020 book, “Yes, Your Butt Still Belongs in Church,” I don’t feel particularly threatened by the existence of clubs that cater to marginalized atheists, agnostics, pagans and followers of other belief systems; but the naming system does get under my skin.

I mean, most modern Satanists spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with self-inflicted PR problems. They must constantly point out that they don’t believe in a literal Satan and don’t worship evil, so — other than for shock value — I’m not sure why they choose to be the Satanic Temple or the Church of Satan or Beelzebub’s Bungalow to start with.

It’s like Jiffy Lube changing its business model without changing its name. (“No, we specialize in extremely lethargic service, and we would really rather sell you a horse than lubricate your gas-powered vehicle…”)

The press releases paint the clubs as focusing on tolerance, empathy and common-sense science (“There’s a perfectly good reason Grandpa was wearing his cloth mask in the casket, Billy…”), but I hope they don’t devolve into snobbery. You know, like “Yo’ momma is so narrow-minded …” taunts or charitable gestures such as “Here’s a new pair of mittens, because your family probably wears them out knuckle-dragging …”

Some organizers of After School Satan Clubs have faced combative Christian parents or even death threats. The organizers are not rolling over and playing dead (mostly because that would start unproductive arguments over whether death means eternal oblivion or Becoming One with the Universe or drinking mead in Valhalla or being reincarnated as a writer who belatedly realizes he should have trademarked Beelzebub’s Bungalow or…).

No, sir, they are standing their ground, winning lawsuits and defying their opponents with, “Oh, Mythical Realm of Punishment Concocted to Keep Superstitious Believers in Line, No!”

Expansion into high schools would seem a no-brainer for future growth, but the devil is in the details (so to speak). For one thing, faculty sponsors would have to guarantee that the personal demons they’re wrestling with are purely metaphorical.

And secondary school students would need to be willing and able to take on more of the workload. But “Let’s go empathize with endangered cephalopods” has tough competition in a life-phase dominated by raging hormones, driver’s licenses and afterschool jobs.

(The seven tenets of the Satanic Temple may be some outstanding prose, but they are no match for an impudent 17-year-old’s “I got your tenets right here!”)

It will be interesting to track how the clubs grow and evolve. If any traditional Christians are truly concerned about them, they will need to up their game in the marketplace of ideas.

(“The preacher had the right idea last Christmas. You know, preacher what’s-his-name. Same first name as congressman what’s-his-name …”)

— Danny Tyree is a columnist with Cagle Cartoons Inc.