Recent news has surfaced that the Satanic Temple plans to launch a program they are calling “After School Satan.” They are starting the clubs in elementary schools in response to after-school Christian clubs that target young children with the gospel. They want to offer an alternative.
Obviously, this has generated some press as well as a groundswell of noise from the faith community.
While the movement is true and I’m not particularly thrilled about it, I want to suggest that everyone take a deep breath and relax. Read on to find out why.
First some bad news. The clubs are real and the Satanic Temple has already listed some of the schools that they are targeting. One is close to me. You can check snopes.com if you want, but I assure you, this is a real thing.
The good news is that the purpose of the clubs is probably not what you picture. There will be no animal sacrifices and ritualistic Satan worship. According to their website: “After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us.” In other words, they are promoting scientific rationalism and individual freedom, not the worship of Satan.
But that’s actually bad news. Satanists reject the involvement (or existence) of God in our lives and cling to sayings such as, “Do as thou wilt.” In other words, they encourage people to choose their own path based on what they want and what they deem is right. So “rational thought” apart from God’s activity easily captures the essence of the Satan we find in Scripture. It sounds nice, but it results in very bad things.
The good news is that these clubs are being started in response to organizations like the Good News Club and Rise Up. Satanists see that God is gaining ground in the lives of an entire generation and they don’t like it.
The bad news is that “After School Satan” is free to meet just like a Christian club can. You can try to stop it, but you can’t. And you probably shouldn’t. Why?
The good news is that the United States has made it clear that students have the freedom to exercise their religion outside of school hours. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in Good News Club v. Milford Central School that schools cannot discriminate against after school-clubs like this. If Christians want the freedom to meet like this (and most do), then we cannot stop others of different faiths from doing likewise. The minute we deny Satanists access to a public forum, someone will take steps to deny Christians of the same.
So that means some bad news: The Satanic Temple might soon have the opportunity to influence impressionable young minds in elementary schools across the nation.
But may we all rejoice in some REALLY GOOD NEWS: In the battle between good and evil, our God will win. After School Satan clubs shouldn’t freak us out. There has always been a conflict between our God and His enemy and our God has always been victorious.
From Elijah’s victorious showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, to Jesus rolling up His sleeves and going toe-to-toe with Satan in the desert, our God is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than anything that could ever can stand against Him. A school club doesn’t frighten Him and it shouldn’t frighten us.
Instead, we must remember that God wants to use His followers to be salt and light in our world and in our circles of influence. We must confidently walk with Him and see a club like this not as our enemy but as our mission field.
I truly doubt that After School Satan Clubs will show up in schools across the country. Everyone needs to relax. But if they do show up in your child’s school, it presents a great opportunity to remind your kids that there are always two ways they can go: on the wide or the narrow path, on the way that leads to life or that leads to self.
We tend to insulate our kids from these two diverging paths. Many of them don’t fully realize the difference until they are older teenagers or in college. Sadly, many of them aren’t prepared for the choice and settle for what the world has to offer once they gain a little independence. We haven’t had the chance to train them.
Ultimately, the bad news is that our kids will struggle with the choice between God’s way and the world’s way all their lives. The good news about these clubs is that they might give parents the opportunity to start preparing them for that choice much earlier. They might also give our kids the opportunity to see God show up and be real, powerful and victorious in their schools and in the lives of their friends. And that might not be a bad thing after all.
In fact, it might be exactly what they need.
I know that not everyone is going to agree with me on this. What do you think?
Adapted from infoforfamilies.com, a ministry founded by Barrett and Jenifer Johnson. After serving in the local church for 25 years, Barrett and Jenifer launched INFO for Families as a ministry designed to encourage people through speaking, personal coaching and resource development. Barrett served for 15 years in youth ministry before serving for 8 years as the Family Minister at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta, one of the largest churches in the South. He has degrees from Texas A&M University and Southwestern Seminary, but he and Jenifer have received their best education through the no-holds-barred nature of everyday family life.