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Freethought Today · April 2016

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Illinois school district’s satanic ban is spurious

After hearing from a local resident, FFRF 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. 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.

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.

"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."