Tag Archive for: Satanism

‘That Is Not a Religion’: DeSantis Bars Satanists from Florida School Chaplaincy Program

The Sunshine State is now welcoming chaplains into public schools, but Satanists need not apply. On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill into law allowing chaplains to volunteer to offer counseling at public and charter schools. However, the Catholic governor warned that Satanists would not be accepted into the program, as some Christian and conservative groups had feared.

“Now some have said if you do a school chaplain program that somehow you’re going to have Satanists running around in all our schools,” DeSantis said in a press conference. “We’re not playing those games in Florida. That is not a religion. That is not qualifying to be able to participate in this. We’re going to be using common sense when it comes to this, so you don’t have to worry about that.”

The Florida Senate version of the Bill was approved in February and the House version approved early last month. The legislation’s text states, “Each school district or charter school may adopt a policy to authorize volunteer school chaplains to provide supports, services, and programs to students as assigned by the district school board or charter school governing board.” The new law requires volunteer chaplains to pass a background check and would require school administrators to publicize each volunteer chaplain’s religious affiliation and obtain parental consent before a student begins counseling.

“Any opportunity that exists for ministers or chaplains in the public sector must not discriminate based on religious affiliation,” said The Satanic Temple’s (TST) “Director of Ministry” Penemue Grigori in February. “Our ministers look forward to participating in opportunities to do good in the community, including the opportunities created by this bill, right alongside the clergy of other religions.” Ryan Jayne of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Action Fund added, “I think there is a 100% chance you see satanic chaplains, and also of course other religious minorities that the majority-Christian population might not be a fan of. The Satanic Temple is a church, whether people like it or not.”

“It is wonderful to have such a strong statement denying the legitimacy of Satanism as a religion or church from Governor DeSantis. But I worry that appeals to common sense will not hold in the most ideological school systems, even in Florida,” Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Education Studies Meg Kilgannon commented to The Washington Stand. “Regardless, this is an important step in acknowledging the role that faith plays in our lives and how important it is that the big questions students have about morality, life and death, and God’s plan for their lives are best answered by a parent or priest, pastor, or chaplain.”

DeSantis has criticized Satanism in the past, arguing that it is not a religion. In December, after military veteran and outspoken Christian Michael Cassidy toppled and beheaded a Baphomet idol erected in the Iowa state capitol building by TST, the Florida governor declared, “Satan has no place in our society and should not be recognized as a ‘religion’ by the federal government. … Good prevails over evil — that’s the American spirit.”

On its website, TST responds to the question “Do you worship Satan?” The organization states, “No, nor do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural.” TST adds, “Satan is a symbol of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds. … Our metaphoric representation is the literary Satan best exemplified by Milton and the Romantic Satanists from Blake to Shelley to Anatole France.”

Now that it has been signed by DeSantis, Florida’s new law goes into effect on July 1.

AUTHOR

S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

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