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The Satanic Temple

Guest Article

The Satanic Temple

February 10, 2022

The history of The Satanic Temple’s After School Satan clubs

How The Satanic Temple controls the media — and your mind (Part 2: After School Satan)


Last time, we looked in detail at how a press release from The Satanic Temple takes advantage first of weak local journalists and their editors by offering a compelling conflict narrative.

This makes a story easy to cover “both sides” of and meets the minimum standards of objectivity. We showed how this simple, facile framework leads to a story that can be turned around quickly and neatly without any deeper questions pursued, and we showed how this tidy “man-bites-dog” Satanist story then works its way through each step of the rightwing media ecosystem, something that justifies further coverage by increasingly prominent “straight” news outfits as well as liberals and leftists looking to dunk on the right.

This time we’re not going to go through this process again in the same way, but we are going to examine how pernicious the effect is when no one bothers to actually fact-check an organization that started out in 2013 by lying to the media and just never stopped.

“After School Satan” clubs have been a point of pride for TST since first announced in late summer 2016 in the Washington Post.

If you are looking at that logo and chuckling to yourself because a.) you realize what the acronym is, and yet b.) you realize that would be inappropriate for an elementary and middle school program, you would be correct on both counts. But remember, we’re dealing with The Satanic Temple here, so all of the original iconography was not “After School Satan Clubs” (ASSC) it was just “After School Satan” (ASS). From conversations with some high-ranking ex-TST members, we’ve also been able to confirm that internally, “ASS clubs” was the joke, as well.

Anyway, here’s how TST’s website describes it at present:

“Good News Clubs” or GNCs are religious indoctrination clubs run by Child Evangelism Fellowship, which they describe as “weekly Christian programs for kids 5–12 years old featuring a Bible lesson, songs, memory verses, and games.”

But you shouldn’t trust an organization’s self-marketing. GoodNewsClubs.info has some independent information about GNCs, but understand that there are thousands of these clubs across the United States harming tens of thousands of students, and they absolutely deserve to be countered.

No wonder people who want something like that also want to believe that a group like The Satanic Temple‘s self-marketing actually does exist and offers an alternative to kids.

Unfortunately, TST’s claims are lies.


Find a Club Currently, the number of After School Satan Clubs (ASSC) is limited, as the program is very new. However, ASSC has generated a massive wave of interest immediately upon being announced. Across the nation, parents are concerned about encroachments by proselytizing evangelicals in their public schools, and are eager to establish the presence of a contrasting voice that helps children to understand that one doesn’t need to submit to superstition in order to be a good person…
After School Satan description as of September 2020

As late as September 2020, the Temple claimed to have active ASS clubs in nine school districts. A person searching for themselves to double-check could even find multiple national and local headlines about it:

What you may notice (but journalists and fact-checkers never seem to) is that those stories don’t include the clubs getting to the point of actually meeting with students.

Ordo Sororitatis Satanicae detailed why Springfield, Mo., fell apart in their 2019 piece about Lucien Greaves and The Satanic Temple, but as far as we can tell, no news outlets thought it worth doing follow up at the time or ever since.

We reached out to Heinrich Kaiser, a former organizer for TST’s local affiliate group in the Washington, D.C.-area, about what happened to their program after getting all that press coverage and making public promises about it.

Which are both the more typical way of things with TST: the announcement is spoonfed to media who dutifully talk about it because it’s such a good and easy story for them, but then overworked journalists and understaffed newsrooms forget to follow up. By the time they do — if they do — the story is too old. Plus, the way the rules of news work, “turns out, nothing happened” is a tough sell to an editor.

Now, two of those places (Taylorsville and Portland) did get to the point of an “open house” at least, but there’s no evidence Taylorsville actually provided anything for students. Meanwhile, leadership of what in 2018 would break off from TST to become “Satanic Portland” confirmed publicly that one of their major sources of tension was that Portland’s local After School Satan club (mis-abbreviated here) fell apart after the national leadership got the headlines and photos they wanted then proceeded to ignore them for months at a time.

@sporkbot tweet:
We tried to start an ASCC here. TST flew in for a photo op then fucked off and ignores us for months while we dealt with the school boards. It eventually fell through.

In general, an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but it seems pretty odd that dramatic protests and news coverage would accompany so many After School Satan clubs yet there then would be nothing about any of them actually meeting if they actually did.

See, though many provisional clubs were announced to great acclaim and consternation, when we asked around, only one program ever actually served a child that we can find: Point Defiance Elementary School in Tacoma, Wash.

There, a radio news story confirmed that a volunteer from the Seattle chapter taught one child once a month for two hours during the spring 2017 semester.

Additionally, we have documentation that TST’s non-church 501(c)(3) Reason Alliance Ltd. paid for a semester’s worth of once-per-month rent, starting December 2016 then till the end of spring semester 2017. Reason Alliance writing the check set off an entirely new round of rightwing outrage over how fast it got nonprofit status, but we won’t go further into that here.

Officially, the program was “on pause” the next semester. On the other hand, TST also told the Tacoma News Tribune the club was “well-attended” as a way to describe having one student participate.

“It was a matter of funding” — it cost a total of $154 to rent the room for the semester.

And according to Botello when we reached out last week, TST shut the program down not due to a lack of local support but because the national org already had all of the headlines they needed.

“I pushed to do it for another year, and to make it bigger. But I was shot down real quick,” Botello said. “I wanted to keep it going, being more intentional about lesson plans and expanding to more students. But they shot me down. They said the ‘jig was up’ basically and the stunt had run its course.

“I was very passionate about the program. And I put a lot of my own money and supplies into it,” she continued. “It was a real slap in the face that they reduced my work to a ‘political stunt.’ As a parent, I felt some type of way about using children as pawns for political gain.”

The partner of Derek Piersing, former leader of the “South Sound Satanists” affiliate group centered on Tacoma, also independently confirmed this in a statement written in March 2020.

Indeed, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies did more journalistic work that fall than most professional journalists ever have on the topic when he interviewed ASS club’s then-national program lead “Chalice Blythe”.

In press releases, as late as September 2017, Blythe was still claiming publicly that things were going great and going to be “even better and much bigger” than ever.

The Tacoma News Tribune included Blythe’s statement without further investigation, as did Seattle’s alt-weekly paper The Stranger. TST member and future high-level media contributor Jack Matirko of course went one step further for his Patheos blog:

But having Blythe on camera, Jefferies asked her a direct question, and Blythe confirmed that despite the massive amount of media coverage nationwide the year before, there were no active programs anywhere in the USA at that time.

The Jim Jefferies Show, S1E17 (Oct. 31, 2017)

The airdate for that was October 2017. Despite being included in numerous press releases, we can’t find any evidence of such programs existing between then and January 2022. We were able to confirm that, as expected, TST’s 2021 year-in-review greatly mischaracterized what TST had done with its ASS clubs in that year and that there were no clubs in 2020, although this was blamed on Covid-19.

So, prior to January 2022 when an After School Satan club in Moline, Ill., actually met with students for the first time, there seem to have been none since Tacoma. (Even in Moline, we are relying on news to accurately characterize it as a meeting and not a provisional open house like in Portland.)

Again: we cannot prove that there were no ASS clubs during the previous five years, but it should be pretty easy for anyone to demonstrate TST actually met with kids other than that one program; as yet, no apologists for the Temple have been able to.

For five years, The Satanic Temple was able to advertise themselves offering a program without any of the work or headaches of actually doing it, knowing that news outlets were more interested in “reporting the controversy” than seeing if announcements or open houses ever got to the point of engaging students. Ignorant people without the time to do hours of follow-up on their own believed TST and these reporters, naturally.

People often say, “At least The Satanic Temple is doing something.” Well, the “something” TST was doing was getting attention and leaving all its volunteers high and dry.


Yet, when The Satanic Temple dusted off its After School Satan program this year and targeted the Midwest, it worked just as well. Numerous local and national news stories, including social media with rightwingers going nuts and smug liberals telling them that actually the Temple is great — why, just read TST’s own website for proof.

As far as we can tell, the program in Moline did actually meet, and when we asked campaign director “June Everett” on Facebook, she claimed it involved four students.

FB comment alt text below

Everett references doxing, and we’ll address that at the bottom because it turns out to be much too complicated to get into here. All subsequent press references to the campaign director of After School Satan also quote “June Everett”, so we’re going to have to follow that naming convention.

Just note that previously, someone named “Andrea Williams Wright” was also answering questions and also publicly identifying as the Campaign Director of the After School Satan clubs for The Satanic Temple.

FB comment alt text below

Of course, the work of volunteers on the ground is not and never has really been in question when it comes to The Satanic Temple. It’s what the national organization based out of Salem is doing with that volunteer labor and to what ends the two owners are seeking.

Everett did (apparently) actually pull off the ASS club meeting in Ohio she referenced with the Lebanon, Ohio, club facing a small protest Jan. 27.

Local Superintendent Isaac Seevers confirmed to The Dayton Daily News that there were “two students and seven adults that were participating in the meeting”, which sounds to us like an open house people were just scoping out, but we’ll be generous.

So, as far as we can (generously) confirm, that is a total of seven students in three states meeting since the program was first announced in fall 2016.

What this “accomplishment” has received in return is dozens but perhaps hundreds of articles from the local news to blogs to YouTube videos to the Washington Post to multiple Fox News segments devoted to it, as well as dutiful repetition of TST’s claims in press releases that the program is extant even when — if anyone who bothered to check — it was not.

This latest news cycle is even better than getting coverage of the “Baby Baphomet” on Fox News in December, because this time Lucien Greaves himself got to go on Fox News again.

TST even promoted it in an email blast ahead of time, telling people to tune in to Tucker Carlson’s show.

Tune In Tonight!
 
 Tune into Tucker Carlson tonight to watch Lucien Greaves, TST spokesperson and cofounder, discuss our ongoing campaign, The After School Satan Club. The club provides a space for children to explore self-directed education.
 
 To learn more about our After School Satan Club campaign, click here.
 
 To watch Lucien Greaves tune into Fox News tonight, January 14, 2022, at 8:30pm EST.
 
 Thank you for your support!
 
 
 The Satanic Temple
Satanic Temple email blast message Jan. 14, 2022

Why Greaves prefers someone like Carlson over someone like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow or CNN’s Brian Stelter could be explained in many ways, but the most generous is that Greaves knows he’s going to get a copacetic interview from Carlson. The Fox News primetime host is certainly not interested in finding out that “there’s no Satan Claus” when it comes to an international Satanic organization that claims half a million members trying to get into the schools of his audience and educate children.

Carlson and the rest of the far-right media are absolutely not looking to point out that TST is, in reality, five hundred thousand email-newsletter subscribers in a trench coat and some dozens of people actually involved till they burn out, get kicked out, or find out about the whole “Aryan king” thing. The Gateway Pundit is absolutely not going to bother to point out the Temple’s public figures make a lot of (to TGP’s audience) scary promises TST never delivers on and therefore are not something their audience should be frightened of, are not a sign of the end times, are not another reason to stock up on doomsday prepper supplies they happen to also sell.

The right wants what The Satanic Temple is selling because it helps the right push its own grifts.

If you’re saying that the right-wing media ecosystem would be inventing Satanist conspiracies and fear-mongering even without TST, OK — you’re probably right.

But The Satanic Temple is the organization that actively seeks attention, clout, and money by handing these people pre-packaged fantasies to peddle without even bothering to actually do anything good.

All of this goes on and is allowed to glide on — frictionless — because everyone involved at every step of the way supporting or opposing the Temple is getting what they want.

The Satanic Temple “controls the media” because news orgs get a bigger audience, right-wing groups get a bogeyman, liberals and leftists get to feel superior or feel like they’re “trolling” the right, and TST gets to make a buck while Lucien Greaves gets to feel clever and important and have endless praise heaped on him by TST sycophants.

The only people who don’t benefit in all of these schemes are the people who are supposed to be benefitting: the pregnant people who need abortions, the organizations actually fighting to keep Christian dominionism out of the state, and children who probably could use a decent alternative to after school programs by the Child Evangelism Fellowship and their “Good News Clubs”.

And it seems like that ought to be important to someone by now.

Maybe next time.


Moreover, we’re still being sued by The Satanic Temple in federal court. If you’ve learned anything new, please follow us on our other social media to learn even more and show your appreciation with whatever you can afford so we can keep defending ourselves from this frivolous SLAPP suit.


On doxing:

The Facebook profile “June Everett” clearly and unequivocally claims to be the Campaign Director of the After School Satan club program, as well as an “Ordained Minister of The Satanic Temple”.

June Everett
Campaign Director of TST’s After School Satan Club (ASSC). Ordained Minister of The Satanic Temple
.

Early on in our exchange in a Facebook group discussing her After School Satan program, she accused us of already doxing her and said that she’d already had a conversation with us the previous weekend.

At the time, this was a bit baffling, but with a bit of work we understood that she meant our fact-check of TST’s 2021 year-in-review where we referenced the conversation she had with someone else as “Andrea Williams Wright” under The Satanic Temple’s public Facebook post about After School Satan clubs returning mere weeks after TST had claimed they were actively meeting in 2021.

But more importantly to this, Andrea Williams Wright identified herself in public as “Campaign Director for ASSC” and even requested a private message about it.

Relevant portion of conversation
 Andrea Williams Wright: As the Campaign Director for ASSC, feel free to PM me so that I can help with any questions.

Although it remains public and we linked to the conversation directly there (and will do so again), the person asking those questions is not one of the four people being sued by The Satanic Temple, which is all “Queer Satanic” is, so we didn’t want to corral them into this without their permission.

Believe it or not, we do know very well what it’s like to have friends and loved ones hit with collateral damage because someone wants to hurt you.

For example, TST did attempt to dox the four of us by not only putting what they thought were our government names but also our home addresses into the public federal court record as part of serving us papers, and later creating several sockpuppet accounts to lob defamatory smears at us and people around us. That’s “defamatory” in the strict, legal sense where someone accuses you of literal crimes without restraining themselves with answering little questions like, “Did this actually happen?” and “Is this person actually the same person as someone we hate, or do they just have a similar name?”

All of that is something fairly different from what the Temple’s supporters typically mean by doxing: referring to someone by the same government name they use when they buy stuff, own stuff, sue people, and give testimony in court as part of a “constellation of affiliate entities” exerting power over its members’ lives.

The Satanic Temple says, “We’re a legitimate religion!” But when pressed, it’s always, “I’m worried about being held accountable for things I say and do publicly for my legitimate religion.”

This is not deadnaming a trans person.

This is not taking a new name as part of religious conversion.

This is the campaign director for what purports to be a national religious program for children talking publicly to news outlets without even explaining she is using a pseudonym, and she ought to perform the minimal amount of ownership and accountability of actually standing behind what she’s doing. That’s why who “June Everett” is is so important.

Andrea Wright being the same person as “June Everett” was initially based on only her word and circumstantial evidence. Unlike typical “Satanyms” which tend to have a flair for the theatrical, there are multiple people legally named “June Everett”. This includes Colorado specifically, where Wright and “Everett” are from and both announced themselves publicly as involved in “Menstruatin’ With Satan Campaigns in locally: Everett in 2020 and Wright in 2020 [broken link][archive], and Everett again in 2021.

And yet! the top non-Facebook search results for “June Everett” in Colorado in 2022 when this person began to be the national spokesperson for TST’s ASS clubs were for a completely different person — different build, hair, and complexion.

The public pseudonym “June Everett” is a real name for other people in Colorado [IWantABuzz.com]

You wonder how that Backpack Society founder feels about someone using what is presumably her legal name as a pseudonym — or if, like with TST owner Doug Misicko’s usage of “Neil Bricke“, there’s some personal history between her and Wright explaining that coincidence.

The point is: it should not be this difficult or require someone doing video interviews a year later to confirm they are using a fake name for public work.

The same day the Facebook conversation was happening between us where Everett accused us of doxing her, a Jewish community was targeted while meeting in their synagogue yet again. Somehow Jewish people — who are actually targeted for the ethno-religion rather than just by euphemism and proxy as Satanists are — conduct their work under their own names, meet publicly, and have a sense of community that can have internal and external accountability.

What an awful, pathetic religion Satanism is if it wants to get national headlines, untraceable money, and the right to teach children but is too craven to even endure scrutiny.


April 2023: On Doxing” section updated with video stills of Andrea Wright giving interviews as “June Everett”.

Note: a previous version of this article described Heinrich Kaiser’s role with The Satanic Temple inaccurately.

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