While the Satanic Temple doesn’t align itself with any political parties, campaigns or candidates, the organization’s goals are in staunch opposition to the Trump administration’s crackdowns on reproductive health, freedom of the press and transgender rights. “We want First amendment [rights], we want women to have control of their bodies, and we want the LGBT community to have equal rights,” Morrison says. “Obviously with Trump and Pence being in office and with the administration that’s being put in place right now, we’re probably looking at a more aggressive stance” than in previous years. He says membership in the organization surged after Trump was elected, with thousands of members now spread among dozens of chapters around the world.
More than 1,000 backers helped the Satanic Temple surpass its $20,000 fundraising goal, but the statue of Baphomet — the mythical horned goat that has become a kind of mascot for Satanists — was never erected; a 2015 Oklahoma Supreme Court decision banning religious monuments on state property had already accomplished the goal of removing the Ten Commandments from the Capitol. Instead, the Satanic Temple took its 9-foot-tall Baphomet statue to Detroit, where it held a party that was billed at the time as the largest public Satanic ceremony in history, drawing hundreds of supporters. The group has since stepped in to exercise its religious freedom — and challenge the authority of religious groups, sometimes partnering with the ACLU to do so — in city councils, public schools and state legislatures across the country.
At L.A.’s Union Nightclub last month, the Satanic Temple held its largest gathering to date — the 1,200 tickets sold far exceeded attendance at the Detroit party, according to organizers. With on-site tattooing, a performance by a band of goth rockers in white masks and black hoods, and a series of so-called destruction and bloodletting rituals — the latter conducted by a group of women bonded to one another by piercings on their necks and faces — it didn’t exactly scream political fundraiser. But for many of its attendees, the late-night party served as a first introduction to the Satanic Temple’s L.A. chapter, which counts only about a dozen steady members but hopes to grow its base in the coming year with public community meeting scheduled for late March and a slate of actions in the works.
“I love sitting in our meetings because we represent exactly what we should be in Los Angeles,” Morrison says. “It’s not a bunch of white, goth kids. We’re Asian, black, Hispanic, right across the board, and it’s a mix of people from all walks of life, who have all come together under a common mission.”
That mission includes efforts such as the After School Satan Club, designed as a science-based alternative to the Good News Club, which pushes an evangelical agenda in thousands of public schools across the country. Morrison says the group’s request to host After School Satan at Chase Street Elementary in Panorama City last summer went ignored by L.A. Unified School District. He’s now pushing to get After School Satan installed at Hollywood High instead. Read more