Naval Academy Prepares for the Satanic Temple
Task & Purpose reports on a “leaked” US Naval Academy email that announced the advent of Satanic services to be held on the Academy grounds. (The story was subsequently picked up by the Military Times and FoxNews.) It turns out the email was “premature” and inaccurate:
a group of midshipmen “with beliefs aligned with those practiced by The Satanic Temple”…had requested a space for a “study group” to discuss their satanic beliefs — and not, as the email in question indicated, for holding satanic religious services.
The problem, of course, is The Satanic Temple isn’t a religious group. It’s an anti-religious group. From their own webpage [emphasis added]:
DO YOU WORSHIP SATAN?
No, nor do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural. The Satanic Temple believes that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan…Satanists should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.
This would be the equivalent of a group asking for religious space in honor of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — something that was explicitly created not as a religious belief, but as a mockery of religious belief.
The Satanic Temple has made a practice of trying to stigmatize religious exercise. Among other things, they’ve also opposed military memorials.
Should the USNA give Midshipmen space for The Satanic Temple? If they viewed them as non-religious, the group should be supported in the same way they give space to the Chess Club and Toastmasters, not that there’s anything wrong with the Chess Club. It’s just that the Chess Club and Toastmasters are similarly non-religious.
But if The Satanic Temple is properly viewed as anti-religious… well, would the USNA give space to an anti-Jewish group, just because they supported either their right to their beliefs or their “religious freedom”?
The other problem, too, is The Satanic Temple is explicitly a “politically active” group. That’s a separate conversation altogether, which even the USNA acknowledged in the press.
It has long been foretold that atheists and anti-theists would yearn for the “privilege” of religion and demand the same “freedoms” for things they did not practice. Atheist beards have already been denied in the military once, but how long until they’re approved?