MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017 AT 8:30 A.M.
BY JENNIFER SWANN
A blood-letting ceremony at the Satanic Temple's recent fundraiser
It's become increasingly apparent that Donald Trump's administration wants to make religion inescapable, even for secularists. Education secretary Betsy DeVos has donated millions of dollars to private religious schools and once described her education reform as a mission to "advance God's kingdom." Vice President Mike Pence, a born-again evangelical Christian who cast the tie-breaking vote in DeVos' Senate confirmation, also has a history of using politics to advance his religious agenda; last month he became the first vice president to speak at the annual anti-abortion March for Life, and has long waged war against Planned Parenthood in his home state of Indiana. Then there's Ben Carson, nominated as secretary of Housing and Urban Development — a creationist who once said the theory of evolution was encouraged by Satan.
Perhaps Carson wasn't entirely wrong, at least, not when you consider the Satanic Temple, a nontheistic activist organization that has for years worked to champion science — notably evolution and climate change — as a counterpoint to religious teachings pushed by public institutions nationwide. Contrary to its name, the Satanic Temple is not composed of the kind of devil worshippers Carson evoked during his speech at a Seventh-day Adventists gathering in 2012. Rather, these Satanists identify as justice-oriented atheists, using the symbol of Satan not just as parody but also to challenge religious groups that use the mantle of God to justify their actions. At a time when religious advocates hold tremendous power in the White House, the Satanic Temple's mission may become more important than ever — if its would-be supporters can get past all the demonic imagery.