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Guest Article

Lawsuits, The Satanic Temple

November 16, 2021

Devil’s Advocate: TST sides with Church Militant


The Satanic Temple chooses to support anti-gay, ultra-conservative Catholic group in court battle

Church Militant Logo

The Satanic Temple (Inc.) recently filed an amicus brief in support of St. Michael’s Media Inc., otherwise known as “Church Militant”.

Wonder who that might be. Journalist Robert Allen, then of Detroit Free Press, please tell us.

Oh neat. They really hate gays and abortion.

How a right-wing Ferndale fringe group is building a multimedia empire

Inside a plain, two-story brick building in Ferndale hums the nerve center for a growing, Catholic fringe group hoping…www.freep.com


(We had missed this one; h/t to @cwdefllc)

Church Militant broadcasts pro-life, anti-gay, anti-feminist, Islam-fearing, human-caused-climate-change-denying orthodox Catholic news on its website churchmiltant.com and through social media using high-tech, professional production studios that rival those at local TV news stations. It has 35 full-time employees (and is hiring more) who publish about 10 stories and three videos every weekday.

Its leader, Michael Voris, has compared Trump with Constantine, the Roman emperor whom he says was “not a moral man” but a “power-hungry egomaniac,” but who saw it desirable to end the persecution of Christians. He was a human vessel who elevated Catholicism to the state religion, Voris said.

Many of Church Militant’s headlines are similar to those on Breitbart News, the far-right news organization that White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon previously ran. Many of Breitbart’s articles are cited on the Church Militant website. But unlike Breitbart, Church Militant is under a Christian, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

It’s not affiliated with the Catholic Church, which has taken action to distance itself from Church Militant. And Voris said he doesn’t think his organization’s political statements are violating what he calls the “stupid” restriction on political campaign intervention for tax exemption from the Internal Revenue Service.

Church and state have long been linked in this country, he said, and the combination of social media and Trump in the White House have altered the notion of mainstream media.

“The entire established order has been thrown up into the air,” Voris said. “What we say now has some credence. We’re allowed into the discussion.”

Among the headlined stories on churchmiltant.com Friday were:Bombshell: Priest at forefront of pushing birth control in Canada admits gay lifestyle,” “Dismantling Obama’s legacy,” and72 terrorists come to U.S. from seven banned Muslim-majority countries.”

Now, given all the things there are to do in the world, why would The Satanic Temple give one of its limited number of fucks on something like this? Wouldn’t you know it, Church Militant is represented by none other than lil ol’ “free speech* lover” Marc Randazza.

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Docket for 21–2158 listing St Michael’s Media Inc as the Plaintiff and Marc Randazza as their lawyer, with Matthew A Kezhaya for The Satanic Temple Inc writing a supporting brief
U.S. Court of Appeals docket for case in Fourth Circuit

Have we written about Marc Randazza before? We have.

The most famous example of The Satanic Temple’s collaboration with him was 2018, leading to the Great Schism that saw TST’s most prominent local groups walk away then over similar issues, as the lower membership disagreed with the priorities and allocation of resources by TST’s owners toward right-wing causes but had no say over those things.

But for an explanation of why utilizing some lawyer in particular might matter to The Satanic Temple’s leftist and otherwise antifascist members, please do read any of journalist Luke O’Brien’s pieces on Marc Randazza such as “Connecticut Judge: Attorney Marc Randazza Is Too Unethical To Represent Alex Jones”.

If you’re in a listening mood, “Knowledge Fight” hosts Dan Friesen and Jordan Holmes talked to Mark D. Bankston, a lawyer for the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook attack, talk about Randazza in the context of Alex Jones’ bizarre obsession with him.

Anyway, here’s the lower court docket.

Docket for St. Michael’s Media, Inc. v. The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 1:21-cv-02337 …

COMPLAINT (Verified) against All Defendants ( Filing fee $ 402 receipt number 0416-9490076.), filed by St. Michael’s…www.courtlistener.com

And here is TST’s amicus brief:

St Michael’s Media, Inc. v Mayor and City Council of Baltimore

Feel free to read for yourself.

(And to pester @RECAPtheLaw about getting an appeals court extension; until then, thanks again @cwdefllc).


We’re still left with two questions:

  1. How many more amicus briefs in support of reactionaries like this are out there that The Satanic Temple isn’t telling anyone about?
  2. How much has it cost TST (or more really, their donors)?

Now, we know what The Satanic Temple will say: they just love free speech so much. In fact, rendering parody useless, they say verbatim in their brief:

The maxim commonly attributed to Voltaire puts it best: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

You can read their brief uncharitably as them saying, “Of course we don’t agree with these people, but if one overtly political-religious 501(c)(3) with shady finances were to be discriminated against, who knows what might happen to a classy, reputable organization like us next?”

You can also be generous and say that the city of Baltimore was clearly in the wrong here. Sure. Either or both are fine.

But ain’t it funny how once again The Satanic Temple is on the side of the likes of Randazza and Milo Yiannopoulus, as well as Donald Trump and Steve Bannon?

Baltimore can’t prevent Catholic media outlet from holding rally at city building: Panel

Baltimore cannot block a conservative Catholic media outlet from holding a prayer rally in a city-owned center during…www.newsweek.com

St. Michael’s Media successfully signed a contract with a city vendor Thursday, hours after the appeals court announced its decision, according to the media outlet’s attorney, Marc Randazza.

“Baltimore hopefully learned a lesson in First Amendment law that its taxpayers now have to pay for,” Randazza told the AP.

St. Michael’s has said its rally will include speeches by former President Donald Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon and far-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos.

Ain’t it funny how — despite claiming they just HAD to accept the pro bono help of Marc Randazza — they tried to raise $50,000(!!) for that same cause?

The Satanic Temple vs. Twitter

Check out The Satanic Temple vs. Twitter by Reason Alliance, Ltd.!
www.flipcause.com

That’s the same one where TST co-founder and owner Lucien Greaves compares himself to Laura Loomer and Richard Spencer, by the way.

Speaking of pro bono, presumably Matthew Kezhaya and his team didn’t file this amicus brief for free; there were billable hours of work devoted to this and at the expense of something else. How much money did The Satanic Temple put in legal fees toward defending ultraconservative Catholic dominionists?

Surely that’s an answerable question.

Pure principle and random chance that this keeps happening, huh?

Maybe Lucien Greaves will again claim he didn’t bother to learn the views or circumstances behind his and Cevin Soling’s decision to align with the interests of the ultra-right again. That’s what Lucien Greaves says about August Invictus being disinvited from a speaking panel (for inviting people to stab him at the event).

By coincidence, August Sol Invictus is also a violent Neo-Nazi Satanist.

Also note the mention of The Satanic Temple’s first “high priest” Brian Werner in that archived link.

Wonder why TST doesn’t talk so much anymore about this guy who says he’d been close friends with Lucien Greaves for years…

“I’m not a fascist. I’m just willfully and repeatedly ignorant and constantly align myself with the interests of literal fascists for decades” is certainly a defense Lucien Greaves could make.

But at some point, it becomes a distinction without a difference, doesn’t it?

In any case, lovers of free speech that The Satanic Temple are, TST continues to sue us in federal court and still claim slander despite a judge disagreeing on explicitly First Amendment grounds.

If you’ve learned anything new from this piece, please toss us a few bucks.

Legal Fund for Victims of Satanic Temple, organized by Leah Fishbaugh
Former members of The Satanic Temple – Washington are being unjustly targeted during a pandemic by the International…www.gofundme.com

Editor’s note: Article revised slightly from original Tweet thread. A fair criticism of an earlier version of this article is that there wasn’t much analysis of the actual legal brief, and there still isn’t, which we leave to other, more qualified people.

This piece is about how The Satanic Temple’s choices in political alliance in fact are not “strange bedfellows” at all but entirely consistent with the entire history of TST’s organization, its ownership, and their demonstrated priorities which often run directly contrary to their membership and other donors.

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