Satanic Reverses: Religious Exceptions Are a Real Win for Devil Worshippers

Behold the demonic spawn of the crumbling church-state divide!

Illustration by Andrew Rae

Last May, the Supreme Court decided in favor of Christians asserting their right to open town meetings with prayers. An unintended consequence of this and other recent court rulings knocking holes in the wall between church and state is that Satanists, pagans, and pranksters have eagerly embraced their newfound right to express their spiritual beliefs on public time and property:

  • Two days after the Supreme Court’s decision, a newly converted Satanist started asking towns in Florida if he could open town meetings with a prayer to his “Dude in Charge.” (So far, without luck.)
  • In September, an “agnostic pagan pantheist” opened a county commission meeting in Escambia County, Florida, with a two-and-a-half-minute chant invoking the elements and four directions. (“Powers of Air! We invoke and call you/Golden Eagle of the Dawn, Star-seeker, Whirlwind.”)
  • After a judge ruled in September that religious pamphlets could be handed out in public schools in Orange County, Florida, the Satanic Temple published The Satan­ic Children’s Big Book of Activities, a coloring book that includes a connect-the-dots pentagram.
  • In December, a chapter of the Satanic Temple was allowed to display a fallen angel in the Capitol of (where else?) Florida, alongside a holiday display by Flying Spaghetti Monster-worshipping Pastafarians and a Festivus pole made of beer cans.
  • Also at Christmastime, Satanists in Detroit set up a “Snaketivity Scene” on the lawn of the Michigan Capitol. A Republican lawmaker who set up a competing nativity scene insisted, “I’m not afraid of the snake people. I’m sure that Jesus Christ is not afraid.”
  • The Satanic Temple has commissioned a nearly nine-foot-tall bronzed statue of a Baphomet, a goat-headed idol seated on a throne before two children, which it plans to erect in the Oklahoma Capitol. The building already has an enormous copy of the Ten Commandments that’s being challenged by the ACLU.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend