Parents, would you be alarmed if you received a flyer inviting your children to a Satanic after-school club?
As PressConnects.com recently reported, some parents in the Maine-Endwell Central School District (MECSD) in Broome County, New York expressed understandable concern after receiving exactly such a flyer. According to the story, an After School Satan Club is scheduled to meet at Homer Brink Elementary School on 10 afternoons. The club is sponsored by Reason Alliance and by The Satanic Temple, and it claims to offer activities such as arts, crafts, science, and community service projects. A parental consent form is required for participation.
In a letter to parents, Superintendent Jason Van Fossen laid out the reasoning behind the district’s decision to allow a Satanic club to meet on school grounds. The superintendent correctly explained that the district is constitutionally required to offer religious groups equal access to school facilities for after-school clubs and other community activities. Given that obligation, the Satanic club’s request to use school facilities left the district with three options: Ban all non-school organizations from using school facilities, allow facility use by some non-school organizations but not others (which would likely result in legal action), or continue allowing outside groups—including religious groups like the Satanic club—access to school facilities. The district chose the third option. Superintendent Van Fossen noted that the district did not endorse the Satanic club.
The establishment of a Satanic after-school club at Homer Brink Elementary School is not a random or isolated occurrence. In fact, it is part of a strategic effort to thwart the Gospel message. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), requests to start Satanic clubs have been made at schools in multiple states. CBN reports that parental opposition to such clubs has “left school administrators with a difficult decision: accept all clubs no matter the viewpoint or shut down after-school clubs altogether.” Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel states that the true purpose behind the Satanic clubs is to push schools to react by shutting down all religious clubs, including Good News Clubs. Sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship, thousands of Good News Clubs share the Gospel with children across the United States. The Supreme Court of the United States held that schools that allow outside organizations to use their facilities for after-school activities cannot exclude Good News Clubs from meeting on their premises (see Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98 (2001)). A Good News Club was allowed to meet at Homer Brink Elementary School beginning last spring.
Here is the moral of the story: If a Satanic club is formed at your children’s public school, don’t protest. Just pray. Protesting against these clubs plays into the Satanists’ hands. If parents and others protest the formation of a Satanic club, the school might respond by shutting down after-school clubs altogether to avoid allegations of unfairness. That action would not just prevent a Satanic club from meeting at your children’s school; it would also prevent a Good News Club from meeting there and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, it is likely that Satanic clubs will struggle to gain attendees; as Fred Pry of Child Evangelism Fellowship points out, “‘Parents are the gatekeepers for all the clubs in schools. All of them need permission slips signed by the parents…if no children sign up, Satan clubs are not going to exist.’”