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The Satanic Temple has been suing us since April 2020, and we are still here.


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Guest Article

Lawsuits, The Satanic Temple

March 25, 2022

The costs of defending yourself from The Satanic Temple

If you’re already familiar with our situation, feel free to skip down to “By The Numbers“.

The background

Beyond being a vibe, “Queer Satanic” is a group of four people who have been sued by The Satanic Temple since April 2020 over criticism of the Temple and its owners failing to live up to their own stated values. TST claimed it owned the Facebook page criticizing them despite Facebook telling them that Facebook owns Facebook pages and were the responsibility of admins.

Not getting the answer they wanted, the Temple decided to divert the financial resources it’s responsible for stewarding, ostensibly for the purposes of religious liberty or reproductive freedom, instead to harming us.

[redacted name] But the question is, will you found an actual organization The Satanic Temple 2: Electric Boogaloo? The Satanic Temple 2: The Second one? S2: The Mighty Satanists? Nathan Von Sullivan: Satanism Reloaded actually

As their for-profit corporation United Federation of Churches LLC (dba “The Satanic Temple”), the Temple’s owners accused us of defamation, various cybercrimes, and forming a competitor organization.

(Eventually, TST would ratchet their frivolity up beyond parody by submitting evidence that someone else using the phrase “The Satanic Temple 2: Electric Boogaloo” online was somehow an indication of something serious or formal on our part, and a violation of their intellectual property. No, really.)

SLAPP Suits: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

In order to accomplish this inane purpose, TST exploited a structural flaw in the U.S. legal system that allows Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or “SLAPPs”. See John Oliver’s segment on that for more.

In fact, since May 2020, The Satanic Temple has had control of that very Facebook page that they supposedly sued us over. Even so, in March 2021, they re-filed their lawsuit after the federal district judge had dismissed every claim in TST’s case the month before, including the judge dismissing the claims of defamation with prejudice, meaning it’s a dead issue.

The Satanic Temple has “seven fundamental tenets” and often points to their “freedom to offend” when defending their core values. But, the Temple’s house lawyer told Newsweek, criticism of them on a Facebook page they considered to be theirs was unacceptable.

If they did this on their own web page, we wouldn’t be in a lawsuit right now. But they put it on our page,” attorney Matt Kezhaya said, as related by Newsweek reporter Julia Duin.

Then TST sued Newsweek and Duin for reporting on the lawsuit against us.

In their complaint against a magazine and reporter, The Satanic Temple— brave defenders of free speech rights, no matter how bigoted or unpopular—allege defamation. In order to do this, TST claims in actual federal court documents that The Satanic Temple isn’t a public figure.

Noticeably, in filings before and after (including two others filed in February 2022), the Temple’s boilerplate language has been to refer to it as a “famous” religion or organization, while highlighting its hundreds of thousands of members and that it was the subject of a film.

Public figures need to prove “actual malice” in a defamation case, which is why in their Newsweek case, TST is saying they aren’t one. They’re pretty shameless about this stuff, in other words.

TST’s very silly claim

The Satanic Temple is also claiming they were defamed by our statement in that article that we’ve spent about $80,000 defending ourselves, and that this has been eating us alive financially.

text in caption
Complaint in The Satanic Temple, Inc. v. Newsweek Magazine LLC (1:22-cv-01343)

66. The article also claims that the Johnson defendants have “spent $80,000 defending themselves in court this past year,” referring to United Federation of Churches LLC v. Johnson et al., No. 2:20-cv-509 (W.D. Wa. 2020). Exhibit 1 at 3. That claim is false and defamatory as follows.

67. Given the procedural posture of the case, it is impossible for the Johnson defendants to have spent this much money on the defense. As of the time of the article, the Johnson defendants have filed two motions to dismiss and a response to a motion for reconsideration. If they actually have spent that much money, it is because of some undisclosed fact which, if disclosed, would alter a reasonable reader’s perception of the assertion. For example, the Johnson defendants may have unreasonably driven up their own costs.”

To do a little paraphrase for you all, TST says that we are lying about them hurting us financially with their SLAPP suit, and that if we’re telling the truth it’s only because we must have hidden something from TST that would make it possible.

So it’s not true, they say, and if it were true, it’s our own fault—not theirs—that we have had to pay for a competent legal defense for almost two years, and they’re the real victims here for us telling others about their behavior.

Matt Kezhaya - The Zealot
Profile Picture
Matt was born for combat. From his earliest years, he played war and puzzle games which refined his mental acuity into an unstoppable force. This prepared him for the greatest psychological game of all time: litigation.

A philosopher's mind and a priest's heart temper his fiery spirit. Every morning, he trains his mind and body in the iron temple before embarking on the conquests of the day. At night, he studies the occult, linguistics, history, and the violent arts.

In the courts, Matt is a fearless and unpredictable opponent. He seeks out the greatest challenges available, not for trifling profit but for justice and glory. All who cross him or his chosen clientele learn the error of their ways; sometimes swiftly, sometimes belatedly. It all depends on the strategic layout of the battlefield.
Crown.Law profile as of October 2022

(As an aside, that statement does raise the remote possibility that by not considering how many billable research hours might go into doing serious legal work, TST is revealing something about why it is their lawsuits keep failing everywhere they try them. Who can say.)

Once again we are reminded that when it comes to The Satanic Temple, “Is it incompetence or malice?” is always a false dichotomy.

And once again, don’t take our word for this.

First, and quite helpfully, TST’s own lawyer Matt “The Zealot” Kezhaya went onto Reddit in May 2022 to state it explictly:

I will not answer any questions related to the idiots that call themselves “QueerSatanic,” or their idiot-conspiracy theories. My only comment on that topic is:

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

Matthew Kezhaya as “u/stormsmcgee” as quoted in Dkt# 38 of United Federation of Churches LLC v. Johnson et al

Kezhaya went on to say in a comment answer:

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.


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.

All of these rather give up the game of what the Temple is really after here.

There are uninvolved parties who’ve come to the same conclusion as well.

This video by Uncivil Law is not exactly great, or at least the person has no great grasp on Satanism and the difference between various orgs, as the thumbnail makes clear.

But! that naivete means that as he goes through The Satanic Temple’s complaint from the federal defamation lawsuit against Newsweek and their reporter, his reactions and explanations are not colored by any particular animus against TST or its owners at all, just the quality of their arguments as he sees them.

Spoiler: Uncivil Law is not impressed with the Temple’s claims of defamation, just as Social Actuality was not impressed when examining similar claims in TST’s suit against us.

Nor is lawyer/PhD candidate in copyright law Mike Dunford a.k.a @QuestAuthority.

Mike Dunford
I read The Satanic Temple's complaint on stream tonight. It's been a while since I was so irate about a case. The complaint itself is SLAPPy as hell; the claims are embarrassingly weak.

And, in my view, uses litigation to dox and harass former members.

Mike Dunford @questauthority
I read The Satanic Temple’s complaint on stream tonight. It’s been a while since I was so irate about a case. The complaint itself is SLAPPy as hell; the claims are embarrassingly weak.

And, in my view, uses litigation to dox and harass former members.

And, to be clear, it’s not even harassing and doxing former members who are parties to the suit; it’s doxing and harassing former members who were sources in the article it’s suing over.

This is a bad lawsuit. The lawyers who filed it are bad for filing it. And they should feel bad about themselves.

I read the Newsweek article that TST is suing over. That made me think that they were an organization having a commonplace internal splat.

Their complaint in the suit made me think that their leaders are vindictive little turdbuckets who should be ostracized from polite society.

However, now the threat of litigation is something every news org and even blogger has to seriously consider if they think about writing about our case or of The Satanic Temple critically, and in that sense, even if the Temple loses or withdraws the case, it’s already served its purpose to create a chilling effect on future journalists.

Because in the United States, a legal defense, even against an absurd and frivolous complaint, is quite costly.

By The Numbers

How much money have we spent directly on legal bills since the case began in April 2020?

Well, it was about $80,000.

Of course, now it’s even more.

May 2020 to November 2022 legal bills for defendants in United Federation of Churches LLC v. Johnson et al

If you compare it to the court docket so far, you may notice the initial spike, which also included the retainer, and then notice activity around the work behind our first motion to dismiss in the summer of 2020. Then there’s a second wave of activity after TST re-filed their amended complaint in March 2021 and amended it one more time.

Subsequently, we’ve had to spend yet more money in summer 2022 as we waited for the judge to rule on dismissing the case yet again because the Temple’s lawyer threatened to file another inappropriate motion even being provided evidence that directly contradicted the claim; in November 2022, TST did so anyway.

In contrast to the accusation that we intentionally ran up our own legal costs, our attorney has been extraordinarily generous with his time, regularly waiving the fees for correspondence with us and charging us at a rate that, while expensive, has acknowledged that we are just individuals being targeted by The Satanic Temple’s frivolous and wasteful lawsuit rather than anything like a business.

Month	   | Invoice Total |   	Running total
May-20	   |   	 $21,396   |   	 $21,396 
Jun-20	   |   	 $10,897   |   	 $32,293 
Jul-20	   |   	 $292 	   |   	 $32,585 
Aug-20	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $32,585 
Sep-20	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $32,585 
Oct-20	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $32,585 
Nov-20	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $32,585 
Dec-20	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $32,585 
Jan-21	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $32,585 
Feb-21	   |   	 $260 	   |   	 $32,845 
Mar-21	   |   	 $9,773	   |   	 $42,618 
Apr-21	   |   	 $16,119   |   	 $58,737 
May-21	   |   	 $4,975    |   	 $63,712 
Jun-21	   |   	 $10,668   |   	 $74,380 
Jul-21	   |   	 $4,213    |   	 $78,593 
Aug-21	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $78,593 
Sep-21	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $78,593 
Oct-21	   |   	 $325 	   |   	 $78,918 
Nov-21	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $78,918 
Dec-21	   |   	 $-   	   |   	 $78,918 
Jan-22	   |   	 $130 	   |   	 $79,048 
Feb-22	   |   	 $163 	   |   	 $79,211
Mar-22	   |   	 $780 	   |   	 $79,991
Apr-22	   |   	 $2,373	   |   	 $82,363
May-22	   |   	 $5,298	   |   	 $87,661
Jun-22	   |   	 $11,713   |   	 $99,374
Jul-22	   |   	 $130 	   |   	 $99,504
Aug-22	   |   	 $- 	   |   	 $99,504
Sep-22	   |   	 $260 	   |   	 $99,764
Oct-22	   |   	 $130 	   |   	 $99,894
Nov-22	   |   	 $2,569	   |   	 $102,463
Dec-22	   |   	 $14,964   |   	 $117,427
Jan-23	   |	 $1,250	   |	 $118,676
Feb-23	   |	 $2,065	   |	 $120,741
Mar-23	   |	 $293	   |	 $121,033
Apr-23	   |	 $4,102	   |	 $125,135

But, feel free to check our work for yourself if you think our math is bad or we’re getting fleeced here.

Anything that can be destroyed by truth,” etc., etc.

If you’ve learned anything new and want to show your appreciation, do not hesitate to help us defray some of that ̶$̶7̶9̶,̶2̶1̶1̶ ̶$̶1̶0̶2̶,̶4̶6̶3̶ $125,135 and counting.

Legal Fund for Victims of Satanic Temple

(With this genius grift, at this rate we’ll even break even sometime in the early 22nd century.)

Look, the past two years have been extremely trying for, well, everyone in the whole world, and you can imagine what the stress of predatory litigation you can’t escape robbing you of your savings and pushing you into debt adds on top of that.

All the way back in our June 2021 update on GoFundMe, we even talked openly about dropping from four to three in terms of activity in our defense because yeah, it’s been real bad:

All the while, from April 2020 to now, this case has had very real, deeply hurtful consequences for us all (which, we imagine, it was intended to when it was filed). While the sum we are asking for here is only $20K, we have sunk about three times that amount into legal fees already, with the difference between what’s been donated and billed coming from our personal savings. 

Any money we could have saved during the last year, during the shutdown, has gone towards our lawyer. One of us had a cancer scare earlier this year, and while it thankfully turned out alright, they now have medical bills they cannot pay because the lawsuit has taken precedence. And one of our fellow defendants has had to step away from the case altogether, due to the effect it had on their family life and mental health. 

While we’ve been dealing with the worries that come with a pandemic (personal health, family health, jobs, isolation), we’ve also had to face the effects of what amounts to being shaken down, all over a Facebook page that was seized and wiped of all criticism all the way back in May 2020 (TWENTY TWENTY). TST are probably aware they have no chance of recovering their ludicrous damages from four relatively poor people, but the lawsuit is forcing us to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend ourselves, so we need you to keep going.
June 11, 2021, GoFundMe update excerpt

For those of us still in the thick of it day-to-day, it gets harder all the time, especially if we have the ambition to have any sort of life otherwise on top of work and self-defense.

The Satanic Temple and its most active sycophants seem to not believe this has actually been life-alteringly stressful, seem to believe that it’s our fault if it has been, and some even believe that it’s good that it should be happening because criticizing a supposed religion is the “fuck around” bit and being sued by the religion’s for-profit corporation for two years is the “finding out”. You’d think they’d want to find out how much “help pregnant Texans get abortions” money The Satanic Temple has instead spent suing us and Newsweek.

But, we cannot change people’s minds, and that’s never been our purpose.

All we can do is put good information out there about what The Satanic Temple is actually up to, what its historical priorities have been, and call attention to what remains unknown. If people continue to support them in spite or because of such things, so be it.

But they can no longer use the excuse that they had no idea. Because they clearly do.

Note: Article updated December 2022.

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