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Footnotes, The Satanic Temple

May 28, 2022

Footnotes to iilluminaughtii’s “Is The Satanic Temple Really An Arbiter for Justice?” Corporate Casket video

The Satanic Temple has been called the ‘scientology for mall goths’. While they claim to be different, helpful, and progressive, the reality is far darker and potentially even more sinister. They use church money for personal funds, allow sexual assault to occur under their watch, and mislead people about how much they’re willing to help those in need of an abortion. Are they really a church, or another scam?

Summary of iilluminaughtii’s Corporate Casket: “Is The Satanic Temple Really An Arbiter for Justice?”

Over a single weekend, famous anti-scam YouTube video essayist and podcaster iilluminaughtii (Blair Zoń) reached more people about the issues of The Satanic Temple than we have in two years of being sued by them and a little more than a year of being about as vocal about it as possible.

We are absolutely delighted.

Zoń and her team made this edition of “Corporate Casket” with their own labors, but they were kind enough to give us an acknowledgment, too, for the helpfulness of our work in doing their own research. One of the few legitimately good things to come out of being targeted in a SLAPP suit for two years (and counting) is having been forced to become an expert and living reference book for people interested in The Satanic Temple.

However, as she said in her video notes, Zoń did not do this edition of Corporate Casket enthusiastically after witnessing how the Temple has threatened and targeted us and some of TST’s other critics (which now includes Newsweek and its reporter).

“Explaining My Hesitancy”

I would like to confirm the reason why I greatly hesitated and debated publishing the episode about TST is mainly linked to the research uncovered. The clear demonstration and intention to silence or intimidate folks who spoke out against the group sends a clear message to an “outsider” like myself that having an opposing opinion will not be tolerated.

This was something I found particularly difficult to come to terms with as I was in the same position many other unaffiliated people are in. The public message claims this group is an advocacy group doing some really great things. I was initially enchanted. I wanted to join. But once I looked beyond surface level information, I was disturbed by what lurked beneath the surface.

This was a topic that I understood would be polarizing and would ruffle a few feathers. Trying to understand why something that seemed so good could be crafted by someone who used such abhorrent language was devastating and disenchanting.

As I started to see more and more information regarding TST on TikTok and other social media platforms, it appeared as though the public would be more receptive to learning about the devil in the details, so to speak.

I am uncomfortable knowing that they may attempt to initiate legal action against me, but it won’t compare to the pain and suffering former members may have gone through in their process to leave. They once had what they considered to be a loving community for it to seemingly turn onto them. I can only look from the outside and rely on public information, transcripts, and anecdotal evidence to help develop and shape my opinions and position on TST.

So, if she and her team have not already gotten a threatening letter from TST’s main lawyer Matt Kezhaya or another attorney, we would not be surprised if that comes her way soon.

(As we quote from the iilluminaughtii script for the video essay, we’re going to try to keep that consistent gray color each time and mostly move through it chronologically.)

The Satanic Temple will likely claim S L A N D E R, or anyhow, some kind of defamation. And by our reading, iilluminaughtii did get some things wrong, which, you know, happens when you talk for half an hour through about 15 pages of script.

Overall, though, the finished work accurately captured the fundamental issues involved with TST as an organization and issues with its structure, including the inability to achieve real-world successes.

Rather than address those things, The Temple’s supporters are likely to nitpick and deflect, so we also are going to nitpick but hopefully re-focus on these larger and fundamental issues as we do. (See: Footnotes to Newsweek’s article for something similar.)

Some of these are not exactly going to be fair, and if Zoń and her team—or anyone else—can show we’re the ones who are wrong, it is more than fair to point that out so we can update it with a note. In a couple of places, we even explicitly invite that.

With that said, let’s get started.

1. The Pink Mass.

When reviewing past, supposedly successful projects that The Satanic Temple did, the gay/lesbian couples kissing over the grave of Fred Phelps’ mother, or “Pink Mass”, is described in the usual way:

Though they gained attention with the statue, their first real ‘movement’ came later in 2013 with “The Pink Mass”. To summarize what happened here, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, announced that he intended to picket the funerals of the Boston Marathon bombing victims. Jarry and Greaves, in retaliation, decided to take photos of gay couples kissing over the grave of Phelp’s mother, Catherine Johnston. This took place in July 2013 and, once again, made headlines. They posthumously declared Catherine a lesbian and mocked the WBC, turning their own talking points around on them by saying “our right to believe that Fred Phelps now must believe that his mother is gay is inviolable. No one can question our beliefs”.

However, from Shane Bugbee’s sworn statement and then Doug Misicko’s semi-confirmation in his own deposition, these were apparently unpaid actors who may or may not even have been gay.

(Misicko also uses the public pseudonyms “Doug Mesner” and “Lucien Greaves” with some regularity, but we’ll get to that.)

First, Bugbee’s statement:

18. The “pink mass” was another stunt conducted under the guise of the Satanic Temple. Doug obtained actors to play gay couples who kissed on top of the gravestone of Catherine Johnson, the mother of Fred Phelps, who was the founder of Westboro Baptist Church. Doug also unzipped his pants and placed his bare scrotum on top of Johnson’s headstone. Photographs of the actors kissing were posted to a page at http://www.westboro-baptist.com, which claimed that the Satanic Temple “honored” Johnson by their actions and that as a result she “is now gay in the
afterlife.”

19. The actors that Doug obtained for the “pink mass” stunt were not actually gay couples, and Doug had a hard time getting them to kiss each other for the camera.

Declaration of Shane Bugbee” for Cave v. Thurston

Then see how Misicko handles these questions about it (Misicko’s answers bolded):

Q: So what did the Pink Mass involve?

Misicko: Two same-sex couples making out over the grave of the mother of the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church. And then I tastefully rested my scrotum upon her grave.

Q. Okay. The two men who were photographed kissing, they were actors; right?

Misicko: Well, they were definitely kissing.

Q. Right. But they were hired actors, correct?

Misicko: I don’t believe they were paid.

Q. In any case, they were actors who were actually kissing?

Misicko: I don’t — I wouldn’t call them actors. They — they knew what we were doing, and they wanted to do it.

Q. And those two men were not actually gay, were they?

Misicko: I don’t — I don’t know. I don’t — I — I know at least one of them explicitly identified as gay. The other one seemed pretty gay along with him.

Q. So you had tried to find actors to participate in this, what you called the Pink Mass; correct?

Misicko: I did not. I don’t know necessarily what the process was when the people I was working with were trying to find people.

Q. So there were also two women who were photographed kissing, correct?

Misicko: Correct.

Q. And they were not actually lesbian, correct?

Misicko: I actually really know nothing about either of them.

Q. But you know that they weren’t lesbian?

Misicko: I don’t know that. They –

Q. And they were —

Misicko: — could very well have been.

Q. — actors as well, right?

Misicko: I — I don’t know that either. I — I don’t — I don’t believe any of these people got paid, and I believe they — they had their own — their own — their own positions on matters that led them to want to do this with us.

Q. How did you locate these individuals to participate?

Misicko: I — I did not. So I didn’t —

Q. How did The Satanic Temple locate these individuals?

Misicko: I — I do not know how these, these people were — were brought into this.

Q. Okay. And — and you are the representative of The Satanic Temple with knowledge of the items listed in the Notice of Deposition, correct?

Misicko: Yeah.

Relevant portions of Douglas Misicko deposition, for Cave v Thurston, March 11, 2020

The so-called Pink Mass was the second “major” public action by TST.

Their first attempt in January 2013 in Tallahassee, Fla., was marred by getting caught advertising for unpaid, non-union actors via the website Actors Access, so it is a bit funny that Misicko clarifies, “I don’t believe they were paid”.

It is accurate to say that their gravestone stunt seems to have gone over well. However, from what we can tell, this was the result of Bugbee’s connections at Vice and a maybe few other places running the story since Bugbee had been contracted for TST’s summer 2013 re-launch to help promote it. This event did gain attention, but their Adopt-A-Highway fundraiser fell well-short of its goal. By that autumn, attention had fallen off again till the December promise of a Baphomet statue in Oklahoma actually launched the Temple into the public consciousness permanently—if not for good.

Very minor related thing: there’s a later reference in the video to Misicko “practically tea-bagging” the gravestone, and the citation given is a South Flordia Gay News article.

That one gives a censored picture of the photo, but the uncensored one (WARNING: this is a link to a picture of a grown man pulling his dick out in the middle of the day), as well as Misicko’s own testimony, makes it clear Misicko’s whole nuts were on that gravestone. As of May 2022, the event is still the only article in Vice‘s category, “teabagging graves“.

The reason we are going into such detail here is that some people seem to think that The Satanic Temple was good once and then lost their way somehow. However, every indication we have found is that, at least for the owners, this is just exactly who and what they have always been. Now, they’re just more so.

2. After School Satan club

For context, this comes in the first section characterizing the public perception of The Satanic Temple, but iilluminaughtii refers to The After School Satan, or ASS clubs, positively in terms of helping kids without indoctrination.

Perhaps an unlikely, but largely welcomed resource, has come in the form of the Satanic Temple. The group has made waves in recent years. For example, they created the ‘after school satan club’ which is really just a lot of games and crafts for kids. These aren’t meant to indoctrinate but push back on the Christian programs that thousands of schools offer, (such as the ‘Good News’ program), instead.

Certainly, this accurately reproduces how local and liberal media have discussed the clubs so far. Unfortunately, the first-level reporting has been absolutely atrocious to the point of being unreliable.

As an example, iilluminaughtii accurately cites a news story with the headline, “The Satanic Temple sues elementary as after-school club rejected”.

A rule of journalism is that you only put statements in the present tense when they have actually happened, and, uh, as yet The Satanic Temple has not actually sued the school district over this issue yet.

We searched PACER for federal records and state and local courts for a while last month when news outlets were announcing that, and we came up empty before figuring out these headlines and stories just were wrong; the wire services and blogs that picked up the story didn’t bother to check for themselves either.

So, there has been some reporting that ASS clubs do exist in a few places this year, and based on one image in a newsletter, we think at least one club is actually meeting and may have some students it’s serving.

But there’s other history, isn’t there?

The Satanic Temple’s After School Clubs: a community service or misleading marketing stunt? | veritas et caritas (28:22)

Thus, we’d like more direct evidence we have not yet seen given how the version of the clubs from five years ago actually turned out when subjected to more scrutiny.

We don’t blame iilluminaughtii, but closer inspection is often very different than the initial announcements, overly credulous reporting, and outright but unchecked lies peddled by TST.

3. Ann Doe

There’s a reference to TST having “another case” in Texas — this is mostly true or it depends how you count it.

Their lawsuits in regards to abortion have struggled, and their critics explain that TST’s marketing simply “does not match their reality”. Even fellow Satanists, such as the Church of Satan, have referred to the Temple’s actions as a publicity stunt, and tweeted: “…it’s stupid to think associating Satanism and abortion would help anyone.” It sure does seem like a way to make it harder for people to actually get abortions in the future. However, this hasn’t stopped the Temple from trying; they currently have another lawsuit about abortion pending in Texas where they’re advocating for ‘Ann Doe’.

Again: we’re nitpicking here because there’s two different cases. The Temple is using the same “Ann Doe” for both a federal and state-level abortion challenge, with cases filed about a year apart.

As always, The.Satanic.Wiki is an invaluable resource here.

The federal case, The Satanic Temple, Inc. et al v. Hellerstedt et al (“Ann Doe I”), had a judge stall it till after the Supreme Court kills Roe v. Wade this year with their Dobbs v. Jackson ruling.

A newer, state-level case is a bit harder to track. We think it’s called The Satanic Temple, Inc., et al v. Young et al (“Ann Doe II”) but regardless, the case is in the 459th Civil District Court (Travis County, Texas). Someone can correct us, especially if they have better access to the local court system.

We’re not lawyers, but neither case looks very promising at present.

The federal case has already been half-dismissed, in addition to being stayed. The state-level case was filed long after “Ann Doe” was no longer pregnant, and that lack of standing has ended a TST abortion lawsuit before.

The nitpick is: there’s not just one “Ann Doe” case; there are two. Still, the general point is true in that The Satanic Temple cannot help you get an abortion (and it does not deserve your support).

4. Baphomet statue

There’s a claim the Baphomet statue cost $100,000 to create.

But whether the church was joking or not, people believed in their cause— enough to donate money, anyway. When CNN reported the story they said that TST created an Indiegogo to fund their statue and their donations went from only $150 to about $30,000 — well over their $20,000 goal. The 8-foot 6-inch statue they eventually created likely cost over $100,000 dollars. Today, it’s on display at their headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts.

The citation here is Joseph Laycock’s book Speak of the Devil, but he is relying on other people’s reporting, if we follow it all the way down.

(Sorry, this will take a minute.)

For some Oklahomans this might have been a compelling argument for amending the constitution: the Christian majority could enjoy a religious symbol at the capitol and simultaneously feel they were correcting an injustice against religious minorities rather than marginalizing them. But some people now saw TST as a credible threat if the separation of church and state were removed. Wayne Green, an editor for Tulsa World, opined, “The legislature can pass a lot of laws but they can’t repeal the law of unintended consequences.” He added that the reform might “open the door to all sorts of crazy things, for example there was a group that wanted to put a Satanic statue on the grounds of the state capitol. I think the chances of that become much greater if you just take out article 2, section 5.”28 TST’s “stunt” had made them a factor in the state’s political calculus.

The Wandering Baphomet
When CNN first reported on the proposed monument to Satan at the Oklahoma capitol, the article noted rather mockingly that TST had created an Indiegogo page to fund the statue, which had only raised $150 toward its $20,000 goal.29 But by the time the fundraising ended, the public had contributed $30,000 to the project.30 By some estimates, the final product—an 8-foot-6-inch bronze statue weighing one and half tons—cost over $100,000.31 It seemed that no one—including TST—had anticipated how much interest there would be in such a project. When I interviewed Lucien Greaves in December 2013, I asked him whether he would really create a monument to Satan. He explained they were quite serious, and anyway they had no choice because the project had been crowd-funded: there was no way to return the money, and TST was obligated to use it for its stated purpose. In fact, the founders of TST ended up paying much of the cost from their own pockets.
Joseph Laycock, “Speak of the Devil”, Chapter 1

Here’s all three citations for “The Wandering Baphomet” pictured:

29. Daniel Burke, “Satanists want statue next to 10 Commandments,” CNN Belief Blog (December 9, 2013). Available online at http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/09/satanists-we-want-a-monument-in-oklahoma/ (Accessed January 20, 2017).

30. Jonathan Smith, “Here’s the first look at the new Satanic monument being built for Oklahoma’s Statehouse,” Vice.com (May 1, 2014). Available online at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/heres-the-first-look-at-the-new-satanic-monument-being-built-for-oklahomas-statehouse (Accessed January 20, 2017). Malcolm Jarry estimates TST kept about $17,500 of this money after Indiegogo took their cut as well as other expenses. (Electronic communication with the author, May 19, 2019.)

31. Christina Hall, “Satanic Temple’s monument to be unveiled Saturday in Detroit,” Detroit Free Press (July 22, 2015). Available online at http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/07/22/baphomet-monument-satanic-temple-detroit/30510369/ (Accessed January 20, 2017).

Joseph Laycock, Speak of the Devil, Notes to Chapter 1

The first two articles don’t give a number, only the Detroit Free Press. However, it doesn’t bother to attribute it (emphasis added).

The statue is backed by an inverted pentagram and flanked by statues of two young children gazing up at the creature, which has horns, hooves, wings and a beard. It cost more than $100,000 and had been planned for the state Capitol in Oklahoma City until Oklahoma’s Supreme Court banned religious displays, including a monument of the Ten Commandments, on Capitol grounds.

A Ten Commandments monument is planned outside Arkansas’ Statehouse in Little Rock.

Satanic Temple’s monument to be unveiled Saturday in Detroit“, Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, July 22, 2015

Our suspicion is that the reporter asked the owners of TST about it, and they told her a number without giving any evidence of the cost. She then took a common journalistic shortcut of stating something as fact rather than the safer, cover-your-ass tactic of exhaustive attribution (“The Temple says it cost more than $100,000”).

So, that’s a lot of work to say, yes, The Satanic Temple does claim that it spent $100,000 on this statue.

This is repeated, for example, in their 2018 Netflix lawsuit:

29. TST spent countless number of hours (sic) and approximately $100,000 to develop the actual statue which is the now-famous TST Baphomet with Children.

Remember, we’re nitpicking everything in iilluminaughtii’s video. Here, Zoń and her team are not our real target. We just know from experience that The Satanic Temple and its key figures have been shown to outright lie quite a lot over the years—specifically when it comes to the finances of their monuments.

The Belle Plaine lawsuit about a veterans monument showed they tried to raise $20,000, only actually raised $12,000, and then—after discovery—it was revealed they only spent $4,600 on the actual monument, pocketing the rest. 

Thus while TST co-owner and New York landlord scion Cevin Soling could definitely have afforded it, it would be absolutely shocking to us for them to have gone in the hole some $70,000 for the Baphomet statue, especially since they were still kinda-sorta doing a prank documentary back then.

Last thing, then we’ll move on: that crowdfunded statue is still sitting in Salem helping them collect hundreds of thousands in for-profit ticket revenue. A Baptist pastor and the ACLU ended up taking care of the Oklahoma 10 Commandments monument case it was originally planned for.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Cave v. Thurston has stretched into its fourth year, with both the ACLU and state of Arkansas pretty fed up with the intervenors since which entity TST means by “The Satanic Temple” remains a shifting target. That continues to delay a case that has actually already seen one plaintiff die.

5. Harvard graduate Doug Misicko

The claim is that both Cevin Soling a.k.a. “Malcolm Jarry” and Doug Misicko (a.k.a. “Lucien Greaves”) have Harvard degrees.

This message genuinely resonated with people and, joke or not, Jarry and Greaves seemed to work well together. They both held degrees from Harvard and, during a 2012 meeting at a Harvard faculty club, joined forces over a debate about public schools.

Soling? Yes, no disputing that. Doug Misicko? Eh, we’d like some evidence.

Again, iilluminaughtii did their work. The citation here is Joseph Laycock’s book Speak of the Devil, which is unequivocal about it.

"Malcolm Jarry and Doug Mesner (Lucien Greaves) met in 2012 at a function at the Harvard faculty club. Both men hold degrees from Harvard and were living near Cambridge at the time."
Joseph Laycock, Speak of the Devil, Chapter 2, “Origins and History of The Satanic Temple”

Zoń and her team would not have realized that Laycock is actually not trustworthy in terms of talking about The Satanic Temple—that Laycock is essentially a TST proxy, who writes demonstrably inaccurate pieces about the Temple’s legal strategy on abortion to promote The Satanic Temple’s fundraising efforts; in fact, Laycock even speaks at TST’s conferences.

We have a good idea of who specifically would have been on campus at Harvard around that time that Misicko was close to, and who could have allowed Misicko to gain access to facilities without Misicko being a graduate himself. That’s also our alternate, plausible explanation for this meeting between Misicko and Soling taking place, if it’s not just a complete fabrication, too.

It may be overly skeptical, but Shane Bugbee making the “Harvard grad” claim in Vice while being paid to promote TST and Joe Laycock reporting about two people he is carrying water for is not enough for us.

We talk more about this here:

But, this is something that should be easy to prove us wrong about, should it be true and anyone ever bother to do so. If that happens, we’ll correct ourselves immediately.

6. Doug Misicko’s government name

Unless we’re misreading this, in the video, iilluminaughtii seems to have gotten this statement wrong.

As an aside, the name is Doug Menser in these court documents, but that is his name, Lucien Greaves is the pseudonym many people know him as.

“Doug Mesner” is the same person as “Lucien Greaves”, true, but both are pseudonyms, and the man’s government name is still “Douglas Alexander Misicko”. He just sometimes tries to use “Lucien Greaves” or “Doug Mesner” in court depositions or on official documents, too.

As an example, The Satanic Temple’s Belle Plaine case was actually referenced in the video in a screenshot where Misicko as “Lucien Greaves” talks about “Doug Mesner”, prior to admitting they’re the same person (spoiler: Misicko was the one getting paid the lion’s share of fundraiser money).

So we blame no one for having trouble keeping this straight, or at least not phrasing it with complete clarity when they do.

7. “Might Is Right” Internet radio stream

There’s quite a few references to “podcast” throughout, and that’s not actually accurate here when talking about the “Might Is Right” 24-hour special promo event on Radio Free Satan where Misicko said, “I think it’s OK to hate Jews,” and actually many, many worse things.

Yet even with all that ‘context’, what Greaves said remains disgusting, despicable, and worthy of condemnation. This is not someone that should be a leader of a church, no matter the supposed “context”. We read through hours’ worth of this podcast’s transcript and there is no context that makes this better.

It was a live, internet radio stream with callers able to interact with the hosts while listening to it, as well as some pre-recorded ads and music breaks.

This is important for grasping some of what’s happening in these exchanges if you do read the transcript or listen to it.

Also, iilluminaughtii seems to misattribute the “moment of cringe” descriptor to Laycock rather than properly to TST blogger, podcaster, and apologist Stephen Bradford Long.

And while I did refer to the book “Speak of the Devil” by Joseph Laycock for my research, it is endlessly upsetting to see that he called this a “moment of cringe” in his book. Cringe? That’s what we’re going to reduce this to— something cringey? Accidentally calling your teacher ‘mom’ is cringe. This is abhorrent.

You can probably chalk this one up to us for not stating this double-quotation as clearly as it should have been in our earlier article.

But as we went through in detail in that article, that is a pretty accurate paraphrase of the sentiment that Laycock imparts as he makes numerous excuses for what Misicko actually said back then, more effort than actually investigating what else was said, even.

For example:

As the illustrator, Mesner was invited to appear on the podcast. The tone of the podcast is sophomoric and intentionally offensive in keeping with Bugbee’s philosophy of Satanism. In the exchange in question, Mesner states, “It’s OK to hate Jews” if this hatred is based in contempt for their supernatural beliefs but that “it’s not OK to hate Jews” if this hatred is based in racism or ideas of eugenics.

Joseph Laycock, Speak of the Devil, Chapter 3, “Satanic Schisms”

As we detailed before, it was not sophomoric.

Over those 24 hours, Misicko in particular argued repeatedly and unprompted that IQ-based sterilization was necessary. He just wasn’t terribly focused on antisemitism, unlike Shane Bugbee, Amy Bugbee, and some guests who “joked” about exterminating Jews, Black people, Hispanic people, and mentally disabled people. For Misicko, he felt “racialism can be too general, at times.”

At least in regards to the relative value of Jewish people, Misicko found that he and White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger had a lot more in common.

Doug Misicko interview of Tom Metzger for “Might Is Right” Internet radio event

Laycock did not use the exact phrase “moment of cringe”; that was Stephen Bradford Long.

But Laycock deserves every bit of criticism and more for trying to save the thesis of his book (“what if Satanists but good?”) by saying that because Cevin Soling and David Guinan—a.k.a. “Nicholas Crowe”, the third main figure back when TST was just a movie project—were Jewish men and they vouched for Misicko, everything should be settled.

Some of Misicko’s best friends were Jewish, don’t you know?

 In an interview, Greaves said of the entire podcast, “It was dumb.” When I asked about this exchange, he pointed out that he was arguing against racist forms of anti-Semitism. He added, “At that time I was much more outraged and vindictive against organized religion. Ironically, I have a greater appreciation of religion now because of having this Satanic community.” Jarry and Guinan are both Jewish and rejected the suggestion that Mesner harbors anti-Semitic views. Jarry expressed irritation that those claiming Greaves is an anti-Semite never bothered to ask his opinion about the podcast.

Joseph Laycock, Speak of the Devil, Chapter 3, “Satanic Schisms”

So that’s what Misicko told Laycock in 2018, which is similar to the statement circulated on his behalf starting that year.

You’ll notice the tone is similar but distinct from how he sounded in 2020 when confronted during the as of May 2022 still-ongoing litigation of Cave v. Thurston. In that case, the opposing attorney had the ability to ask follow-up questions, after all.

Misicko first tried the standard claim of his words were “out of context” and warned the state’s lawyer deposing him that it was “slanderous conspiracy-theory territory” without ever providing a good reason why that would be so.

Eventually, Misicko pivoted to saying he hadn’t heard it in 20 years, couldn’t confirm his own voice, and fled the room with his lawyer.

But I’ll warn you, this is going to get into slanderous conspiracy-theory territory of highly-edited audio that people have posted and claimed is the pure text of what I had said. So if you’re going to present that, I — I think we should really take objection to you entering that into the court, unless you can claim you’ve really validated the authenticity of this audio and its fidelity to its true original form.

No. It’s offensive. And it’s also based on conspiracy-theory premises and manipulated audio that I — I really take objection to being entered into the record unless you can forensically validate that — that material.

Because this is, like, 20 years ago. This is manipulated audio. So I think the burden of proof is on somebody else, somebody who’s going to present this as evidence to tell me that it’s legitimate and valid rather than making me listen to it for the first time and determine, no, I said these words; or these were placed this way or this sentence was taken out of context in this manner.

You might as well be asking anybody on the street to speak to this audio at this point. Because, there again, it’s around 20 years ago; and I would be listening to it for the first time in a long time.

And I know it’s been — and I know it’s been altered.

(By the way, the whole thing is worse. Both that deposition and the full “I think it’s OK to hate Jews” conversation will be worse the more information you get if you’re willing to do the work of looking into it.)

But in 2022, in response to her video and the attention it got, Misicko told iilluminaughtii he felt “terrible for anybody for whom those words caused any harm.”

Growth or something, right?

8. Doug Misicko’s age

This is a weird thing that Misicko does. Maybe it’s a fear of mortality, maybe something else, but he tries to pretend he’s younger than he actually is all the time.

Oh, but it’s more acceptable because he was in his early 20s, and it was a decade before the church was founded? Absolutely not. Greaves was old enough to know what he was saying. This wasn’t some snippet, this was a 24-hour long radio show where he consistently said offensive, dehumanizing, and horrific remarks. They literally played an anti-Black, racist song on the air called “Some [N words] Never Die, They just smell that way” so, you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t think context makes this shit acceptable.

To be clear, iilluminaughtii is accurate here in that sense that the referenced apology, supposedly by Misicko, claims he was in his early 20s. But, no, he was 28 then.

Misicko was born in 1975, he graduated high school in 1993, and he was 28 in 2003 (he was 38 when putting his ballsack on a gravestone in 2013).

So, if he is telling you something different in your DMs or on Snapchat, just remember, no, this man is now pushing 50.

9. Not a lawsuit, a complaint

This is also a nitpick, but The Satanic Temple sure has treated it like it’s a much bigger deal than that.

However, when TST decided to take action and sue twitter, it was the lawyer that they hired that had a lot of people giving them funny looks. Allow me to introduce Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer who has represented Alex Jones, alt-right figures, and Neo-Nazis like Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi site ‘Daily Stormer’.

TST didn’t end up suing Twitter, just filing a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). This is notable only because TST made it a part of their lawsuit against Newsweek and its reporter while claiming defamation.

But see also how the Temple considered MCAD complaints to “fall within the spirit of the order” when asked to identify “every lawsuit or legal proceeding of whatever kind to which the Satanic Temple has been a party since 2013.”

As far as Marc Randazza, it sure would be nice if any of the explanations that The Satanic Temple gave included proof he was never paid in 2018 for that work on the MCAD complaint, why they needed $50,000 if that was the case, or why they keep using Randazza, even if Misicko is telling the truth with his claim that back in 2018, he had no idea about all that Nazi and child porn shit.

Later, iilluminaughtii does raise this point and clarify that no lawsuit happened.

After all, Randazza was supposedly doing this case pro-bono, meaning he would only take a portion of anything he wins. So then why was TST raising 50 thousand dollars at the time for legal fees? In fact, when you look closer, it doesn’t even seem like the church actually filed the lawsuit, but just a complaint that Greaves made public for fundraising efforts.

Will this be enough to prevent TST from sending a threatening letter? We’ll have to wait to find out.

10. SLAPP suit still ongoing

There’s some more minor timeline stuff here that we won’t be able to get into specifically or nitpick-ily, and that is due to the major error as stated. The lawsuit is still ongoing.

TST also alleged that a former member named [Mickey Meehan] had suggested that the Washington TST chapter supported “ableism, misogyny and racism”. Queer Satanic denied this and, in February 2021, the suit was dismissed. Judge Richard A. Jones said that their vanity urls to facebook weren’t considered domain names under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Although the TST certainly raised some red flags because of this, it’s largely been Queer Satanic and other former members that began to really cast doubt on the temple. As the years went by and this case was dismissed, it turned out that they had a lot to say, and people started asking a lot of questions, too.

(If you want to read that post about “ableism, misogyny, and racism“, it is still up, by the way)

So, TST’s lawsuit against the four former Washington State members was dismissed in February 2021… but TST re-filed. They amended their complaint a second time, and after another year of litigation, there are still two(ish) claims that survived a second round of dismissals, the second and fourth.

https://twitter.com/cwdefllc/status/1515117365670944774

Surprisingly, The Satanic Temple failed to amend its complaint by the deadline the judge gave them, so those partial dismissals in the order are also finished matters.

That means that the only remaining complaints are matters of state law, beyond the jurisdiction of the federal court where this lawsuit has been so far. Accordingly, we’re seeking to have this case thrown out on that basis, forcing TST to have to decide whether to commit even more of their supporters’ resources to pursuing this debacle in state court or if they’ll steward those resources more resourcefully.

This is very confusing even when it is your life, but what’s clear is that the lengths The Satanic Temple has gone to try to cow us throughout these two years is a bad look for a religion supposedly committed to protecting speech it doesn’t like.

Remember: this whole ordeal is ostensibly in the name of responding to criticism made of TST and its owners on a social media page that The Satanic Temple has controlled since May 2020—presumably by just submitting a Facebook ticket—criticism the Temple itself only preserved for posterity by including it in the federal court record. Hence, it is a SLAPP suit where TST plays Calvinball with its claims to keep it alive and keep costing us money.

Now, in the middle of writing this, The Satanic Temple’s lawyer seems to have admitted this to be their actual strategy, explaining that they are going to try to continue the case either by coming up with a way to justify the amount of money at issue in order to reach the necessary $75,000 federal threshold, or they’ll just appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court.

TST lawyer Matt Kezhaya a.k.a. u/stormsmcgee. Source: Reddit

I wanted some federal statutes to apply because that would maximize TST’s damages, would keep us in Federal court (as opposed to State court), and provided the option to collect attorney’s fees for having to litigate this. … Maybe I overcomplicated things by bringing up the Federal issues, or maybe the Judge decided wrong. That will be for the Ninth Circuit to decide.

The case was dismissed in part, not in full. The surviving claims are tortious interference (defendants wrongfully interfered with the business relationship between TST and Facebook), trespass to chattels (defendants wrongfully interfered with TST's rightful possession of the Facebook page), and conversion (defendants wrongfully deprived TST of the Facebook page). The difference between trespass to chattels and conversion is one of degree.

All three surviving claims are questions of Washington State law, not Federal law. Defendants have moved for dismissal from Federal Court because, they argue, TST cannot show that there is an "amount in controversy" of at least $75,000 (which is required for Federal jurisdiction). I have announced resistance to the motion. I need to come up with a credible justification that it is not-impossible a jury could legally award at least $75,000 in damages.

Since punitive damages are on the table, that really means I really only need to justify $12,500 in out-of-pocket damages. Punitive damages can be up to 6x compensatory damages (out-of-pocket losses). I've been mired in Belle Plaine since they filed the motion, so I haven't yet had an opportunity to evaluate the damages.

Alternatively, I have seen case law that says a Federal court has discretion to exercise jurisdiction over state law claims that arise from the same facts as a dismissed federal question. That will probably be part of the response as well.

My response is due at 11:59 pm, Pacific Time, on June 6.
TST lawyer Matt Kezhaya a.k.a. u/stormsmcgee. Source: Reddit

Then in a separate comment:

All three surviving claims are questions of Washington State law, not Federal law. Defendants have moved for dismissal from Federal Court because, they argue, TST cannot show that there is an “amount in controversy” of at least $75,000 (which is required for Federal jurisdiction). I have announced resistance to the motion. I need to come up with a credible justification that it is not-impossible a jury could legally award at least $75,000 in damages.

Of course, Kezhaya’s original version of that stupendously ill-advised Reddit post was even more direct in terms of what all this is about.

I can’t believe you morons have spent more than $80,000 to keep TST’s Facebook page. You are pathetic. You have no concept of civil liberties, or whatever is at stake by the ever-encroaching theocracy. Your lawyer is a gentleman and a scholar. I hope e squeezes every last penny from your living corpses, and anyone that gives you the time of day.

Screenshot of original version of Matt Kezhaya’s Reddit thread.

Again, that is not a comic book supervillain we invented.

That is Matt Kezhaya, lead counsel for The Satanic Temple, expressing what we have long argued was obvious without any admission: that The Satanic Temple’s strategy was to target us with the most expensive litigation possible in a case they’ve continued for more than two years over a Facebook page they have now had for more than two years. All that’s new is learning that Kezhaya and perhaps his clients apparently find our self-defense of this lawsuit offensive to them.

This is the lead counsel for The Satanic Temple, not only publicly musing about his legal strategy for prosecuting a SLAPP suit, but also admitting–in writing! on the Internet! on his decade-old Reddit account!–that their strategy also involves coming up with a reason out of whole cloth as to why vast amounts of public resources should be committed, during a pandemic, towards a federal judge giving him the time of day.

One of several comments by Matt Kezhaya as “u/stormsmcgee” while in law school; this one on subreddit r/4chan

If we’re reading that statement correctly, he’s also admitting that he hasn’t actually come up with that reason as of about a week before his deadline, but is still committed to doing so in the near future.

It cannot be overstated that Kezhaya is not only the lead counsel in the SLAPP suit against us, but is also the lead counsel in many of the Temple’s lawsuits around the country. These are the cases that the Temple props up in its newsletters, press releases, and fundraisers as potentially pivotal to the preservation of religious freedom.

So when you look at how Kezhaya actually acts while conducting Temple business–when you look at not just the fact of the Temple losing its suits, but the arguments it loses with, and the legal strategies that have netted Kezhaya more sanctions than victories for TST from judges around the country–it is a wholly reasonable question as to whether retaining Kezhaya isn’t actually a red flag in itself, a sign that maybe TST isn’t really treating the struggles for religious freedom and bodily autonomy with the urgency that these issues deserve.

We must accept the fact that traditional efforts to protect reproductive rights have failed. Religions have special privileges under the First Amendment and RFRA. The Satanic Temple is utilizing these privileges to protect our religious belief in bodily autonomy - we’re taking our fight to the next level.

As the courts affirm the rights of religious organizations to practice their faith, TST is demanding our religious rights to abortion access without unnecessary state interference.
TST $200,000 fundraiser email from September 2021

The popular narrative persists that TST is uniquely suited to defend abortion rights where “traditional efforts have failed” because not enough people realize the extent to which this so-called “secret weapon” is being wielded by a band of petulant, loose-lipped, self-sabotaging dipshits. These are people who actively either don’t know or don’t care enough about the First Amendment to even prosecute defamation without accidentally trying to get the court to violate the separation of church and state in the process. These are people who are perfectly happy to fire off legal threats to ex-members, major publications, and indie podcast hosts alike, blustering about how vaguely-defined “exclusive copyrights” should supersede constitutionally-protected speech and fair-use reporting.

The Satanic Temple is a one-trick pony that demands people pay attention to it, then follows up by demanding that nobody pay too much attention, and it should surprise nobody that this childish gamesmanship has produced an unmitigated line of defeats and humiliations for the Temple’s theoretically urgent campaigns.

The idea that this is the team who you want in your corner against the multigenerational projects of the Federalist Society and the Christian right should be an abject embarrassment to everyone who treats abortion rights, and every other civil right, with the gravity those things deserve.

We’re winning our case, but it has cost us about $80,000. For us, that’s life-changing money that has been ruinous in all sorts of ways. For the sorts of enemies TST claims to fight, that is a rounding error. We wonder how much this suit has cost The Satanic Temple’s donors when they expected it would be fighting those people.

Speaking of which.

11. The finances

After giving some explanation of the financial and corporate situation of The Satanic Temple, iilluminaughtii says:

I recommend you check out Queer Satanic’s articles on their finances for a better understanding of what’s going on here as, I admit, it’s a bit difficult to follow.

So far, this is the best article we have about the money situation, and it includes a short synopsis at the beginning while linking to some of the longer articles about each entity in the series. If you’re interested and really want to dig into the receipts, check it out.

The comparison iilluminaughtii makes to a televangelist’s finances are apt here. We think this was a misstep, however.

Not only was church money seemingly “vanishing”, but it was also funding organizations that have been accused of defending child sexual abuse. (Which I guess isn’t surprising when you consider the lawyer they hired.) One of these is the FMSF or False Memory Syndrome Foundation, which has argued that victims of abuse, especially children, can’t be trusted. Two FMSF board members have also given an interview to a pro-pedophilia magazine and Queer Satanic claims that Greaves is as admin of the Facebook group ‘False Memory Syndrome Network’ under another one of his pseudonyms, “Mikoto Niikura”.

We have not seen evidence specifically of the claim that TST funded the FMSF, and it’s not an accusation we recall coming across elsewhere, either. This may be a flub or conflating other forms of support with finances.

Doug Misicko has spent a long, long time supporting the idea of “False Memory Syndrome” and attacking Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) as a legitimate condition. Misicko’s support for the False Memory Syndrome Foundation continued after it dissolved in 2019, although how active he is running the “False Memory Syndrome Action Network” Facebook group these days, who can say.

The Satanic Temple’s subgroup Grey Faction has continued a lot of the FMSF’s work. It’s true, we don’t know where money to Grey Faction actually comes from or goes. “Donations” to Grey Faction don’t include the tax-deductible boiler text that we think distinguishes “The Satanic Temple, Inc.” from other TST corporations. Given how long it’s been around, this suggests Grey Faction is under the for-profit United Federation of Churches LLC—or another corporation yet undiscovered.

However, we have not seen any evidence yet that money ever traveled from TST to the False Memory Syndrome Foundation directly. All that really means is that Grey Faction-sponsored events and actions deserve greater scrutiny than we’ve been able to give them with our limited resources so far.

12. John Frum timeline

The timeline on Cevin Soling’s cargo cult messiah excursion beginning around 2007 seems universally agreed, what with Soling making at least one and maybe two movies about it.

Soling says he first visited the Island in 2007, and Queer Satanic alleges he continued to travel there until about 2014— even after the Satanic Temple was founded.

To clarify: this endeavor lasting all the way until 2014 is not our allegation, although if it’s a misreading of what the Guardian article previewing Christopher Lord‘s and Jon Tonk‘s book The Men Who Would Be King is saying, we welcome correction.

We happened across our modern-day prophets by accident. Tonks and I had gone to Vanuatu in 2014 because we’d read about villages there where the locals believe God is an American soldier.

In Tanna, Tonks and I saw platoons of men marching under the midday sun. We also met Cevin Soling, a documentary-maker from Boston who for years had brought strange cargo – salad spinners, fishing tackle for people who don’t fish, medical equipment – to John Frum believers in Sulphur Bay.

“Apparently there was a prophecy I would come,” said Soling, wearing white chinos and a baseball cap. Indeed, in a speech to believers, the chief of Sulphur Bay described him as the “last man” who would reveal the destination of their movement. Soling had tried to turn the whole endeavour into a documentary, and even made necklaces with his own face printed on them.

Outsiders might think Ni-Vanuatu are gullible people, easily taken in by foreign soothsayers. But that’s not the whole picture. There’s a scene in Soling’s film where one of the John Frum chiefs is examining the goods the foreigner has brought, pleased the cult appears to be working – it just so happens the cargo has been brought by a wealthy American film-maker, not Frum. In our conversations with the chief, he evaded the question of whether Soling was the man they’d been waiting for.

We know journalists and editors get stuff wrong all the time; just see all of the above. But it’s tough to see a better explanation than “2007 to 2014” given these basic claims.

13. Jex Blackmore

This one was caught in editing. The script used he/him for Jex Blackmore, then she/her on the screen. However, we believe Blackmore uses they/them pronouns, per their website.

In conclusion

Anything you ever make, especially things that involve research, will never be perfect.

We know that, and we have unlimited space in terms of text and articles that don’t have to serve an audience of literally hundreds of thousands of people on a regular deadline.

Hopefully, if they see this, Zoń and her team take it in the spirit it’s intended. The “Um, well ackshually” nature of a lot of these points are not really about the video content at all but a chance to talk more about some things we see as popular misconceptions already out there.

There were a couple of substantive issues as well. The fact that our lawsuit got dismissed and re-filed is something pretty crucial to understanding our situation and why we are able to talk about some things but not others.

What’s really important to take note of is what we did here—nitpicking, digging in several layers deep in sources, pointing out otherwise insignificant details that were wrong, and stating exactly what was inaccurate and why—and how anyone can do exactly this if they claim someone’s research is not reliable.

What is really important is to take note of how The Satanic Temple, its owners as individuals, and its most ardent defenders never seem to be able to actually do this work and instead will just repeat like a Gregorian chant the sacred words, “They’re biased.”

For those who stay in The Satanic Temple, apparently, that’s enough.

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