Ah, there’s a big kerfuffle in Orange County, Florida, and it’s all the fault of those troublemakers at the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). You can see the story at many places, like here, here, and here).
The trouble began when the Orange County School District allowed evangelical Christians (“The World Changers of Florida”) to distribute Bibles in public schools.
The inevitable (well, usually inevitable) followed: they were sued. As I recall, the FFRF proposed to distribute atheist literature in the school as well, and they were refused. The FFRF and the Central Florida Freethought Community then took the school district to court, and won: they could distribute atheist literature in the schools. (The stuff they wanted to give out seems pretty tame [see below]: no God is Not Great or The God Delusion, but of course books are expensive.)
Now something even better has happened: the Satanic Temple is elbowing in as well, for if Christians and atheists can distribute literature, so can Satanists. The can of worms is opened, and the annelids are crawling free. Of course this is going to drive the Floridians nuts, for they simply didn’t anticipate this. I could have told them!
At first I thought Satanists must be baby-nomming devil worshippers and promoters of evil, but they seem pretty innocuous. In fact, they seem a lot more beneficent than most other religions. The website of the Satanic Temple says this about their mission:
The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. Civic-minded, The Satanic Temple has been involved in a number of good works including taking a stand against the controversial and extremist Westboro Baptist Church, working on behalf of children in public school who have been subject to corporal punishment and more.
They’re better than Christians! In fact Satanism seems like humanism.
The Satanists also say this about the distribution of their literature in the schools:
The Satanic Temple’s spokesperson, Lucien [!] Greaves, explains, “We would never seek to establish a precedent of disseminating our religious materials in public schools because we believe our constitutional values are better served by respecting a strong separation of Church and State. However, if a public school board is going to allow religious pamphlets and full Bibles to be distributed to students — as is the case in Orange County, Florida — we think the responsible thing to do is to ensure that these students are given access to a variety of differing religious opinions, as opposed to standing idly by while one religious voice dominates the discourse and delivers propaganda to youth.”
Like the Satanists, the FFRF issued a statement saying that the school district forced them to this end, and that they really don’t want any religious literature in the schools. I heartily agree! Keep atheism, religion, Satanism, whatever out of public schools. That’s called “secularism” or “respecting the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
This is from the FFRF’s statement:
FFRF does not believe that satanists or Christians or even atheists should be distributing literature to public school students. We have given Orange County every opportunity to close the distribution forum and repeatedly asked them to do so. Each time, they have refused. FFRF does not endorse the New York based Satanic Temple’s literature any more than we would endorse the bible or think it should be given to students. However, Orange County Public Schools cannot legally prevent the temple from distributing its literature.
One thing should be absolutely clear: Orange County Schools has chosen to allow these groups in. Orange County is allowing Christians, atheists and satanists to distribute literature to students, but it does not have to.
FFRF will only distribute its own materials this January, including pamphlets such as An X-Rated Book: Sex & Obscenity in the Bible.
In case you want to see what the devotees of The Hornéd One are going to hand out, you can download The Satanic Children’s BIG BOOK of Activities for free here. I’ve reproduced the cover and two inside pages:
Two page from the Satanist book:
Something tells me that the distribution of religious literature will stop promptly.
h/t: Stephen Q. Muth, half of Butter’s staff