FFRF says Satanic ban is spurious

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking for an Illinois school district to lift its ban on Satanic material.

The Rich Township High School District for several years has imposed a prohibition on Satanic symbols, literature and activities in the district’s handbook. Its reasoning is that Satanism is not protected by the First Amendment and that even if it were, the belief system’s harmful concepts would severely disrupt the school environment.

But the First Amendment applies to Satanism, too, asserts FFRF, a state/church watchdog organization. In a 1981 ruling (Thomas v. Review Board), the U.S. Supreme Court said that “religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection.” This certainly pertains to Satanism.

A local citizen, aware that the prohibition is unconstitutional, alerted FFRF to the First Amendment violation.

And the tenets of Satanism do not justify discriminatory treatment. It can be argued that almost all religions promote hatred and bloodshed. By many measures, Satanism is less susceptible to this criticism than Judaism, Christianity or Islam.

The Old Testament, holy to both Judaism and Christianity, is replete with violence. Followers are commanded to commit murder (Deuteronomy 17), infanticide (Psalm 137:8-9 and Isaiah 13:16) and stoning (Numbers 15:32-36). In the New Testament, Jesus condones slavery (Luke 12:47-48), commands his followers to sell their clothes to buy weapons (Luke 22:35-36) and states that he has violent intentions for the world (Revelations 14:10). The Quran, the revealed word of God to Muslims, orders the devout to fight nonbelievers (2:193 and 8:12), while a Hadith (dictums attributed to the religion’s prophet, Muhammad) directs Muslims to kill Jews.

“Of course, adherents of these religions often try to explain these verses away, perhaps arguing that they are metaphorical or only apply in unique circumstances,” says FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne. “If this ad hoc reasoning is sufficient to forgive these passages, the same leniency must be granted to the texts of Satanism and other minority religions. Compared to the texts of more popular religions, the tenets of Satanism are reasonable and benign.”

The language directed at Satanism in the Rich Township High School District student handbook is a relic of ignorance and intolerance, FFRF contends. The organization urges the district to remove the language from its handbook.

FFRF is national state/church watchdog organization with 23,000 nonreligious members, including more than 700 individuals in Illinois.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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