Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Letters to a Satanist: Don't you think you'd recruit more sympathetic minds if you used another figurehead?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 5:40 PM

click to enlarge Illustration by Lee DeVito
  • Illustration by Lee DeVito
Illustration by Lee DeVito Recently, Metro Times, our sister paper in Detroit, unveiled a new column called Letters to Satan. Readers are invited to submit questions about Satanism to be answered by Doug Mesner, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple. Since the Satanic Temple has been so active in Florida in the past couple of years (they rallied for Gov. Rick Scott last year, and more recently, they’ve been saying that they’ll be handing out literature at Orange County Public Schools), we figured we’d run some of the letters, too. Here’s the next installment. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Don't you think you'd recruit more sympathetic minds if you used a figurehead more popular than the one blamed for bringing evil into the world?

Often, it happens that The Satanic Temple’s activities draw the attention of those who find our campaigns to embody their ideals of the highest moral virtues (in defense of personal sovereignty, plurality, women’s rights, gay rights, etc.). These same people, however, at times feel a dissonance in attributing such activities to Satanism, which is often associated with cruelty, evil, and immorality. As I’ve pointed out in many my writings, there is a culture of Satanism, and “Satanist” isn’t an arbitrary label that we feel could be exchanged for another. Satanism embraces the spirit of free inquiry and celebrates “blasphemy” as a declaration of independence from superstitions of old.

According to a common misperception, “Satan” is the adversary, and if traditional organized religion embodies the highest moral virtues, Satan must then stand in diametric opposition to decency itself. Of course we see that, in reality, traditional dogmas in the modern era often stand in stark opposition to reasoned moral positions. There is no reasonable, secular argument against marriage equality. Religious doctrines are often called upon to justify the corporal punishment of children and the general oppression of women. As our civilization progresses, it is largely in spite of, and at the expense of, traditional dogmas, rather than as a product of their guidance.

While slavery is justified and condoned with disturbing detail in the “Good Book”, many Bible-touting moralists today assert anti-slavery as a Christian virtue. What we see is that, regardless of doctrine, moral consensus is co-opted. As a consensus for increased individual rights and equality establishes itself, we can expect that generations from now traditional religious institutions will applaud themselves for every element of the Rights Revolution they once staunchly opposed.

The problem here is not only that religious institutions are regressive, resistant to change, and fail to acknowledge that reversals of policy are, in fact, a reversal at all -- it’s that we enable all of these things when we tacitly concede that these religious institutions define moral values, and that opposing views are, by definition, immoral. It’s important that we not allow this type of revisionism to stand, not merely to rub traditional religionist’s noses in their sordid history, but so that we might cause people to question the moral fiats of religious authority in the present day. We do not concede that an opposing, or Satanic view, on current issues must be corrupt, criminal, or “evil”. Therefore, we fly the banner of Satanism with pride.

  Lucien Greaves is the pen name/pseudonym for Doug Mesner, spokesman for The Satanic Temple.

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