The Satanic Temple is a Church for Imperfect People

I recently co-authored a piece with Murphy Fawkes for Free Inquiry responding to some common criticisms of the Temple.

The Satanic Temple is far from perfect. It is made up of human beings and is therefore a profoundly flawed institution. But, as we argue in the article, that’s also the point. TST has enshrined imperfection and growth in the 6th Tenet, which reads, “people are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one’s best to resolve any harm that might have been caused.”

Murphy and I argue that TST co-founder Lucien Greaves exemplifies this Tenet and demonstrates that TST is a church for people with messy pasts who want to do good despite that fact.

In 2002, Greaves appeared on a radio program called Radio Jihad alongside Shane Bugbee and his then-wife (both vicious anti-Semites at the time) as well as Tom Metzger, founder of White Aryan Resistance. The choice to appear on this radio show was, at best, regrettable. In his twenties at the time, Greaves struggled to articulate an anti-theistic stance. The crass manner in which his distaste for superstition was relayed sounds anti-Semitic, especially when quote-mined out of context, as we feel it was in Sword’s article. 

Greaves has lived with the consequences of this event ever since. As Sword also noted, Greaves has issued a public statement clarifying what he intended to say in that program, stating that he no longer thinks it is acceptable to hate anyone because of their supernatural beliefs. He continues to champion the cause of justice and compassion. 

Some people look at Greaves’s public history and feel nothing but disgust. We look at his history, and the Sixth Tenet, and feel immense relief. TST is for imperfect people, a church where we can grow and pursue the greater good despite our imperfections. Stephen Long, one of the coauthors of this piece, once held fundamentalist and homophobic beliefs that he now deeply regrets. TST has been a place for him to pursue noble actions in spite of that history. Greaves’s notoriety as someone who has made mistakes in the public eye is a benefit; it signals TST’s core value that people can change, learn, and grow. If the cofounder can pursue justice despite saying unwise things in his youth, so can we.

We address other concerns in the article as well, including: is TST a “real” religion? Are TST’s legal strategies effective? Is TST activism for reproductive care helpful?

Read the full article here.

But that’s just me. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or on my discord server. If your comment is excellent, I might feature it in a blog post. And, if you enjoy my work, please consider becoming a patron and signing up for my newsletter.

Photo by SIMON LEE on Unsplash

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