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Guest Article

The Satanic Temple

January 4, 2022

The Devil is in the Details: Fact-Checking The Satanic Temple’s 2021 “Year-In-Review”

This week, TST released an “annual report” supposedly reflecting what TST achieved in its past year; much was demonstrably not true.

In this article, let’s take a look at how the Temple describes itself to its own supporters. We’ll spend some time going into the details about what TST claims it has done versus what has actually happened in the past year.

Indeed, those end up being two very different things.

Happy New Year! As we reflect on 2021, we are encouraged by TST’s progress in protecting our members’ religious rights. Our campaigns promoting reproductive access, equal religious representation, and scientifically-based mental practices have influenced policies across the country. Attached is a report showing how your donations are being used to secure TST members’ religious freedom. We could not have done this without your support. [Review Report] There is still much work to be done.
Click image for link to browser version of TST email

Now, because the Temple says it’s showing people where their money is going, you can expect to see some TST sycophants to repeat this as if it’s actually true and is an answer to criticism of their lack of transparency.

Can you guess what The Satanic Temple really did though?

They lied. They lied a lot. They lied about very big and important things, they lied about the absolutely tiniest and most pissant of things, and they lied in ways that had to be intentional—but sometimes simultaneously in such a haphazard way that it makes absolutely no sense for them to have lied at all.

Scene from “Don’t Look Up” where Kate is explaining to Yule about Three Star general lying about the cost of snacks in the White House. Original dialogue: “He knew eventually that I was going to find out that the snacks were free, you know what I mean? It was just like.. a power play”
“TST knew eventually someone would double-check what year their lawsuits happened or that they actually lost the one they claimed to win, you know what I mean? It was just like.. a power play.”

You want to give them the benefit of the doubt that it was just mere incompetence.

However, an important thing to realize about the Temple once you’ve been studying their work for a while is that “malice” and “incompetence” are not actually in tension with one another; The Satanic Temple also gets dates wrong and mischaracterizes their accomplishments in official documents like court filings, too.

This is just who they are, not some Machiavellian masterstroke.

So let’s go through this so-called annual report and examine how much demonstrably untrue, misleading, and otherwise unverifiable information The Satanic Temple tries to push onto their “five hundred thousand members” (by which, as always, they really mean their email-newsletter subscribers).

“As we approach 2022, TST is proud to report our progress in areas that advance religious reproductive access, ensure equal religious representation in public forums, and establish legal precedents that further TST members’ religious rights. The following report outlines our major events and achievements in 2021.”

You can inspect that document for yourself in full before we get started, if you care to. You may want to form your own opinion, unprejudiced by us; or you may want to see what errors you catch on your own. You may want to compare how a legitimate nonprofit like the ACLU informs supporters of its work in an annual report against how The Satanic Temple does that, given that TST describes itself in court not necessarily as a nonprofit but as “an umbrella term for a religion which is given legal structure by a constellation of affiliate entities.” Or maybe you want to see what impressions a naive reader might walk away with should they have nothing beyond what The Satanic Temple claims about itself and the links it provides.

When you’re ready to start along with us, we’re going to roughly proceed through the document as presented, with some exceptions in order to group subjects for clarity, as well as establish some facts that will end up being useful for subjects later.

Indeed, we first need to pull up what the Temple said about its Scottsdale invocation case and how it characterized the resolution of that lawsuit.

Whether it is just bald-faced lies or it’s sentences so egregiously poorly copyedited as to say the exact opposite of their intent, this really sets a tone and prepares you for what’s coming in all the rest.

The Satanic Temple is full of shit. The only question is whether it’s bullshit, meaning they don’t care whether or not you believe them, or it’s horseshit, where they expect you to. But it’s definitely some shit, and we will show you how in great detail and with citations.

TST, the Scottsdale Suit, and SatanCon in 2022: The trial against the city of Scottsdale, Arizona, concluded in January. The judge, in this case, ruled that Scottsdale discriminated against TST in their process for selecting religions to give invocations at the start of city council meetings and that the city has nothing against Satanists. Read more here. To that end, because the City holds they are TST-friendly, TST is inviting members from around the globe to attend our first annual SatanCon..
TST, The Scottsdale Suit, and SatanCon in 2022

This is an absolutely baffling description of what happened in Scottsdale in nearly every way.

TST lost in federal district court and lost in February 2020. Even if you want to be extremely generous and say, “Yeah, but the trial stopped happening in January, so technically–” yes, of 2020. For a “reflect on 2021”, “End of Year Wrap Up”, “End-Of-Year Summary” annual report.

We’re starting off with errors in basic facts: The Temple can’t even get its dates straight, and, yes, this will come up again.

Satanic Temple v. Scottsdale, City of
Order — Document #92 | District Court, D. Arizona
Docket Number: 2:18-cv-00621| Date Filed: February 6th, 2020

If you’re feeling like giving TST the benefit of the doubt on anything as we continue from here, please center this example in your mind. Two plus two equals four, 2020 is not 2021, and these people have not earned your trust on anything they can’t prove because so much of what claim is already provably false.

To that point, and much more substantially, TST’s characterization of the Scottsdale case’s outcome is directly contrary to what actually happened. Or else it is such an outrageous uncaught typo in so brief a document, it’s difficult to trust anything regardless.

Unequivocally, The Satanic Temple lost that bench trial. Their arguments failed, and the Temple had to pay the city several thousand more dollars for costs incurred. When choosing to appeal, their attorney Matthew Kezhaya bemoaned:

“I was really expecting to win this. … But it’s still government, and government is still a popularity contest.”

However, The Satanic Temple also ended up choosing the old Roy Cohn strategy that when you lose, just claim you actually won. TST has since gone on to repeatedly cite the judgment as validation that TST is a “bona fide religion” in the press and other court documents.

Satanic Temple v. Scottsdale, City of
Image from Order — Document #92, Page 11 | District Court, D. Arizona 
Docket Number: 2:18-cv-00621 | Date Filed: February 6th, 2020

But that’s not what the judgment says!

Rather, the judge determined that then-TST Arizona chapterhead Michelle Shortt’s beliefs and practices as a nontheistic Satanist were religious for purposes of her religious discrimination claims; notably, TST’s complaint had already identified Shortt as a “self-identified Satanist since age 14” as well as a member of The Satanic Temple since its inception.

Therefore, concluded the judge, the court “need not address the standing of the other Plaintiffs” since Shortt had standing to bring the case.

(These other Plaintiffs were nonprofit church The Satanic Temple Inc.; for-profit corporations United Federation of Churches LLC d/b/a “The Satanic Temple” and Adversarial Truth LLC d/b/a “The Satanic Temple – Arizona Chapter”; and finally “The Satanic Temple, a voluntary group of persons, without an Arizona charter, formed by mutual consent for the purpose of promoting a common enterprise or prosecuting a common objective”. The district court judge sidestepped dealing with all that, including thornier issues of what “The Satanic Temple” specifically meant in this context.)

Then in May 2021, The Satanic Temple lost their appeal to the Ninth Circuit, widely regarded as one of the most progressive in the country, essentially on the fact that TST did a bad job at the district court trial of introducing evidence and arguing then didn’t know what they were still allowed to argue on appeal. Read Mike Dunford’s live coverage and watch for yourself if you think that’s an unfair characterization.

That’s what happened this year: TST argued badly, and they lost badly, and they have nothing to show for it but another loss in another court.

And yet: look again at how the Temple chose to inform other people about it.

You’re left thinking, “Is this the old email scammer trick?” Is The Satanic Temple actively trying to weed out savvy people who care about basic, straightforward facts? You know, people tripped up on mere technicalities of the law like who actually won a court case or when it happened. Is that a way to weed out people who might ruin the credulous vibe of local TST groups and online forums with their inconvenient questions?

Actually, though, as we mentioned before, the Temple makes these same sort of errors in court, too, so it turns out they’re legitimately really sloppy, at least some of the time.

So the other option—besides TST intentionally straight-up lying and trusting that no one they want to stick around will fact-check them—is that they meant to say something different and no one caught the typo that completely reversed the meaning.

To be honest, yeah? It even reads a little better this way.

The judge, in this case, ruled that Scottsdale [had not] discriminated against TST in their process for selecting religions to give invocations at the start of city council meetings and that the city has nothing against Satanists.

But look at all of the work we’ve just had to do to demonstrate conclusively that a couple of sentences were incorrect compared with how little work it took to just toss them out. Brandolini’s Law, or “the bullshit asymmetry principle” is in full effect here. You cannot really fight it straight-up without succumbing to exhaustion.

Anyway, by now planning to hold a convention in Scottsdale to try to needle the city officials some more after litigation failed, The Satanic Temple is not exactly disproving the city’s accusations that they’re just trolls seeking attention and trying to disrupt normal municipal functioning. Alternatively, TST realized that maybe Scottsdale is secretly a great place for conventions. Local Arizonans would have to tell us since we wouldn’t know.

Breastless Baphomet holding a lasso. “The Satanic Temple’s First Annual Conference for Congregations, Members, and Supporters Fe. 11–13, 2022 in beautiful downtown Scottsdale, Arizona”
The Satanic Temple’s SatanCon 2022 “Lupercalia in Scottsdale” graphic with “Sponsored by Reason Alliance” circled

As far as SatanCon itself, we have the usual questions related to money and the nebulous nature of The Satanic Temple’s finances: if TST’s nonprofit Reason Alliance Ltd. is sponsoring the event; does that mean it’s also collecting the proceeds from it? Or is the tax-deductible nonprofit subsidizing all the costs so that all the revenues can go back to a for-profit corporation owned by the same two unaccountable men with their complete and unrestricted control over the for-profit’s general fund?

Finally, it may not be exactly fair, but there’s a really good chance that with the new Covid-19 strain raging through the population, it will not be possible to safely have an in-person international convention in February 2022. It is fair, though, to point out that this is part of another pattern: TST pointing to things that haven’t actually happened yet as if they should be counted among their accomplishments.

Religious Reproductive Rights Campaign: Consistent with our tenets that call for bodily autonomy and acting in accordance with best scientific evidence, TST religiously objects to many of the restrictions that states have enacted that interfere with abortion access.
Religious Reproductive Rights Campaign

In The Satanic Temple’s summary of the Religious Reproductive Rights Campaign, TST says it “religiously objects” to abortion access restrictions.

This is true and they actually did announce some objections this year. So there’s that.

But as we’ve pointed out before, this is just their Michael Scott routine: “I declare bankruptcy!” It’s not a major event or achievement. Weak journalists often treat it as one, though, which, to be fair, is earned media attention that pulls in eyeballs and money just as well as a paid ad or an actual accomplishment.

Keep your eye on this sort of thing when reflecting on TST in general, and as we continue looking at this annual report in particular.

Resolution of Judy Doe Supreme Court Case: In January, the Supreme Court chose not to hear our appeal that asserts that Missouri’s abortion regulations violate TST members’ religious liberty. While we are disappointed that the Supreme Court passed on this case, we are nonetheless still empowered because the dismissal never actually addressed our fundamental argument. Read more here.
Resolution of Judy Doe Supreme Court Case

The Satanic Temple’s “Judy Doe” abortion rights case was dismissed at the federal district court level in February 2019; a three-judge panel in the Eighth Circuit upheld the ruling on appeal in June 2020; the Supreme Court didn’t bother to hear it, leaving the appeal upheld.

So the “resolution” did not happen in the last year, or even close.

Click image to see document in the federal court docket

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the federal Judy Doe case on Nov. 23, 2020; that memo was filed in the district court docket the same day, but dated two days later.

This is not a matter of interpretation.

There is also no sincere way to count it as a victory or claim the court didn’t address the Temple’s fundamental argument(s) since the district judge’s opinion looked at what The Satanic Temple chose to argue and dismissed it, sometimes quite bluntly (emphasis added).

Plaintiff also asserts a “hybrid right” theory with respect to her Free Exercise claim. .. Plaintiff states that the Missouri Lectionary is an undue burden under Roe because “the Missouri Lectionary serves absolutely no medical purpose” and “is a State sanctioned instrument of psychological torture intended to coerce Plaintiff into changing her religious beliefs in the Satanic Tenets or punishing her if she acts upon her religious beliefs.” This argument is not well taken. … The Ultrasound Opportunity is not burdensome because a woman is given a choice whether to have an ultrasound. The Missouri Lectionary does not place in undue burden on a woman’s right to get an abortion. A hybrid right analysis is simply inapt in this case.

In the unanimous opinion written affirming the lower court decision, the appeals court similarly determined the Temple lost their fundamental argument (again, emphasis added).

Indeed, the circumstances of this case show why alignment alone cannot be enough. Some religions, including Catholicism, embrace the view that life begins at conception. Others, like Doe’s Satanism, do not. Any theory of when life begins necessarily aligns with some religious beliefs and not others. So under Doe’s theory, Missouri’s only option would be to avoid legislating in this area altogether.

Why would The Satanic Temple lie about something so provable?

In what universe does TST think their own supporters are this gullible or lazy that no one would bother to check?

But we know.

Ohio’s New Fetal Remains Law: In December, Ohio enacted a new regulation that requires those who undergo an abortion to bury or cremate the removed fetal tissue. TST has noted that we object to this law, which is an outrageous and unconstitutional affront to our religious liberty. Read more here.
Ohio’s New Fetal Remains Law

Moving on to the Ohio fetal remains law.

The Temple actually did this one in January 2021! So unlike the previous example, it is at least partially appropriate.

Of course when we look at the language used (“TST has noted that we object”), we findthis is no sort of accomplishment and has helped no one. Indeed, they announced in 2019 for Indiana and 2016 for Texas, too; perhaps others we’re missing as well.

And to what end? Well, the Temple got attention and money, and no scrutiny at all about what happened after.

TST Sues Texas: In February, TST filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas for imposing medically unnecessary abortion regulations on a member that violate her religious beliefs. After some complications with Texas’s first response, the case is working its way through the courts. Read more here.
TST sues Texas

Speaking of that, let’s look at The Satanic Temple’s Ann Doe abortion case in Texas, officially known as “The Satanic Temple, Inc. et al v. Hellerstedt et al”.

Again, at least this happened this year. But as a practical matter of protecting abortion rights, “filing a lawsuit” means “shit-all”. Worse, you wouldn’t think “working its way through the courts” could be a lie, but it is.

The federal district court judge stayed the case in December 2021, citing the looming outcome of Dobbs v. Jackson, which is widely expected to be how the Supreme Court’s 6–3 Republican majority finishes killing Roe and the guarantee of legal abortion in the United States when the decision is announced in June 2022.

Things weren’t great for the case even before that, though.

TST’s Ann Doe case had half its claims from the original complaint dismissed already, including the one referencing Texas’s own Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But even if, like other Texas abortion lawsuits, this were to get a favorable decision at the district court level—which would be a first for the Temple—the case has to survive a trip through the Fifth Circuit, the most reactionary federal appeals court in the whole country. From there, it has a 6–3 Republican court likely to be a 6–2 or 7–2 court by the time SCOTUS actually hears, assuming there’s no denial of a petition for certiorari as in Judy Doe.

When The Satanic Temple says:

TST: “We must accept the fact that traditional efforts to protect reproductive rights have failed. Religions have special privileges under the First Amendment and RFRA.”

It’s worth looking more closely at what the Temple is even offering as an alternative, how they have succeeded up to this point, and how likely they are to succeed in the future given the state of the game they’ve chosen to play because it is not the only game in town.

But more relevant to this claim in specific, not a whole lot movin’ here.

FDA and Religious Access to Mifepristone: In September, TST sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to request that TST be able to access Mifepristone without being subjected to the agency’s regulations. Typically, this medication requires a prescription and can only be dispensed in accordance with specific guidelines. However, TST has requested that we can directly supply TST members who wish to undergo an abortion in a religious context with this drug. Read more here.
FDA and Religious Access to Mifepristone

Onto The Satanic Temple wanting to take a ruling on Indigenous peyote use as a way to become a church pharmacy for mifepristone.

This is not even a glorified press release but just an actual press release. Yet it got a ton of national media coverage and netted TST somewhere in the ballpark of $200,000. On examination, all it was was the Temple announcing they’d be sending a letter making a request for what is — on any reflection — a very bad idea.

Churches should not be pharmacies. In what universe where that is the norm does that improve the situation at all?

Meanwhile, the ACLU actually did years of work to get the Biden regime to make a “permanent” change for access to a safe abortion pill containing mifepristone and misoprostol.

Much less attention; consequently, the ACLU probably got much less money.

Remember: these are The Satanic Temple’s major events and achievements that we’re supposed to be learning about in this end-of-year newsletter.

We expect a little bit of padding and best-spin on events. That’s how it goes. But also: is this the best they got?

Is that why TST pretended they lost Judy Doe in 2021? There really wasn’t anything better they could bullshit with than that?

Indeed, as we continue, that very much seems to be so.

RRR Billboards: After many hurdles, TST posted our religious reproductive rights billboard designs in Dallas, Austin, and Miami. In addition, we obtained a billboard of our own in Phoenix, Arizona. Read more here and here.
RRR Billboards

Onto The Satanic Temple’s “Religious Reproductive Rights” billboards.

This started in December 2020, and the “many hurdles” was one billboard company (Lamar) asking, “Uh, what evidence do you have that y’all can actually avert state restrictions on abortion?” since TST was basing their claim on the announcement of a “satanic abortion ritual” they’d invented just a few weeks before.

So TST sued Lamar, then found another company (Clear Channel) who didn’t care about that stuff, then ran the same campaign.

Satanic Temple billboard that says “Our religious Abortion Ritual Averts Many State Restrictions” and “paid for by Reason Alliance Ltd., 519 Somerville Ave, Somerville MA 01243”
Winter 2020–2021 TST billboard campaign run by Clear Channel; ad paid for by Reason Alliance Ltd.

You can read all about that lawsuit, including contemporary news coverage and compare against the actual court documents, in this thread.

TST withdrew the suit against Lamar in February 2021, likely because they had no path to victory functionally arguing, “You ran our billboards before, but if you don’t run our designs this time, that’s discrimination.”

TST billboard that says “Never be hit in school again”
Evidence from Plaintiff’s complaint in The Satanic Temple, Inc. v. Lamar Advertising of Louisiana, LLC, of 2017 ad campaign Lamar did for TST

The Satanic Temple included this fact about Lamar’s past work with them in their original complaint, and this severely hampered their religious discrimination arguments since there was not disputing Lamar had already proved itself willing to do business with Satanists; Lamar was just unwilling to run specific ads that made factual claims the Satanists couldn’t deliver on (like being able to avert state abortion restrictions).

This is all very funny and indicative of how completely unserious the Temple is as a litigator when it runs up against any entity with deep pockets and a willingness to oppose them.

But it is enraging to think that The Satanic Temple put up billboards claiming TST currently has the power to avert state restrictions on abortion, and then ran Facebook ads with the same claims, all while knowing TST’s arguments have failed in every court.

The Temple got attention, and they got money, and hopefully no pregnant person desperate for a way to get an abortion has actually ever relied on TST’s misinformation when they most needed help.

Texas’s New Abortion Laws: TST stands ready to assist any member that shares its deeplyheld religious convictions regarding the right to reproductive freedom. Accordingly, we encourage any member who resides in Texas and wishes to undergo the Satanic Abortion Ritual within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy to contact TST so we may help them fight this law directly. Read more here.
Texas’s New Abortion Laws

Moving on to The Satanic Temple’s claim that “TST stands ready to assist” any member who needs an abortion within 24 weeks using their “Satanic abortion ritual.”

Keep in mind all the demonstrably false things above when you hear the Temple’s explanation of this is “just trust us.”

We’ve had a guy on our social media claim to be clinic escort for TST, but he also claims he pays for lots of abortions out of his own pocket? This same person admits he has no idea where money to The Satanic Temple is going because he says it’s Lucien Greaves’ religion and Greaves’ money to do with as he pleases. Which in its honesty (“I don’t care”) is legitimately rather refreshing.

But we haven’t been able to confirm this is a real TST program, or how they’re going about vetting volunteers to be escorts if so.

Similarly, either the social media comment has been deleted or (more likely) we just can’t find our way back to it since we failed to save a link, but we believe the supposed head of The Satanic Temple’s RRR program in Texas literally claimed something to the effect of “it’s too confidential for us to get specific, but we’re definitely doing stuff.”

Anyway, an intrepid reporter might try to pin down The Satanic Temple on some specificity about what exactly they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and how much TST money has been spent on the program, if any (bonus points: which TST organization’s money).

Religious Reproductive Rights Rally: In September, TST held a rally celebrating Religious Reproductive Rights on the steps of Utah’s State Capitol in Salt Lake City. There were nearly 500 people in attendance with a large number of counter-protestors that showed up at the scene. Read more here
Religious Reproductive Rights Rally

Moving on to The Satanic Temple’s Religious Reproductive Rights Rally.

As far as we know, there were no big Delta-wave Covid outbreaks from this event, so the main issue was that originally, it was to celebrate $50,000 raised in 2019, then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The event definitely happened. We don’t know where the original money or afterparty money went, or which corporation associated with The Satanic Temple received it.

It’s also worth questioning the “500” attendees number giving TST’s demonstrated willingness to keep inflating membership so long as no one ever checks them. However, this event is in the realm of “actual thing” and “plausible” despite them having nothing to celebrate, and we still have more to go through.

TST’s Protect Children Project The Protect Children Project addresses abuses in public schools perpetrated by school officials and deemed legal. By asserting a religious claim consistent with our tenets, students who are TST members can legally exempt themselves from egregious forms of mistreatment. In May, after a 6-year-old was brutally paddled in front of her parent in a Florida school, NPR reached out to TST for comment. TST is one of only a few entities fighting corporal punishment…
TST’s Protect Children Project

Moving on to several “Cevin Soling hates public schools” listings. The Satanic Temple did nothing in any of these, but if you pay close attention, they barely pretend to even claim to.

Indulge us for some background because this is all only notable when you include the context of how deeply personal this is to Cevin Soling and how weirdly consistent a priority it has been for TST despite having nothing to show for it.

According to Joseph P. Laycock’s book, Speak of the Devil, opposition to public schools is how Lucien Greaves and Soling first hit it off when they met back in 2012, as we covered before. It was a priority of Soling’s going back to his Spectacle Films Inc. project “The War on Kids”, as we also covered before. And in the context of TST, going after public schools was one of the earliest projects the Temple came up with after they finally found their footing, registering the website ProjectProtectChildren.com in February 2014 and sending out their first press release about it in April of that year, announcing “Protect Children Day” for May 15.

Cevin Soling even put his own name to that one, despite calling himself “a consultant to the Project” rather than, say, “co-founder of The Satanic Temple”.

And wouldn’t you know it? TST was selling T-shirts for that would-be event they were pushing.

Some volunteers will be identifying themselves with a T-Shirt that can be purchased at our store. Otherwise, we suggest wearing a red shirt that indicates that you are a volunteer.

“Our religion doesn’t believe in hitting children” billboard paid for by The Satanic Temple
The Satanic Temple’s 2017 Protect Children Project billboard ad campaign

A few years later in 2017, TST ran these billboards you may recall running into somewhere on the Internet as a “Once again, Satan is the logical and compassionate choice”-style meme divorced of all other context or any concern for follow-up.

As you can see, TST did this through Lamar Advertising. Yes, that same company they sued a few years later, as detailed above.

That is a lot of background, but it’s all to point out that the actual year-in-review announcement is this: as “Malcolm Jarry”, Cevin Soling took a call from NPR. That’s the whole achievement.

“There are seven fundamental tenets of the organization, one of which is the right to bodily autonomy, so that’s where corporal punishment comes into play,” said Malcolm Jarry, the co-founder of The Satanic Temple who heads up the group’s “Protect Children Program.”

The purpose of this campaign is to “protect our members from being subjected to corporal punishment because we think corporal punishment is such an evil,” said Jarry.

The group arms parents with a religious exemption from corporal punishment. He says this avenue works because while there are few constitutional rights afforded to children in public school, religious freedom is the only right that has emerged as one the courts extend to school-age kids.

“That’s just about the only right students have. It’s really tragic when you read through the court cases,” Jarry said.

Once a parent registers their child, The Satanic Temple puts the school district on notice of the religions’ firmly held belief that corporal punishment is unacceptable.

“And that if they are hit then we will sue the school on those grounds,” Jarry said.


So Cevin Soling, here as “Malcolm Jarry”, took advantage another weak reporter not bothering to ask the follow-up questions of “what’s an example of this avenue working?” or “have you ever won a relevant lawsuit in the past?” or even, “When has the threat of a lawsuit caused a public school system to change their policies?” then checking with that school district to confirm it.

Because as far as we can tell, TST has never accomplished anything in regards to corporal punishment in public schools in its seven years of trying and sincerely caring about it. Which is why the only accomplishment they can claim is “someone called us and didn’t bother to check what we said.”

TST’s After School Satan Club After School Satan meets at select public schools where Good News Clubs also operate. Trained educators provide activities and learning opportunities based on self-directed education. … While the classes are designed to promote intellectual and emotional development in accordance with TST’s tenets, no proselytization or religious instruction takes place. TST is working to reopen a couple of schools around the country….
TST’s After School Satan Club

We’ve written about The Satanic Temple’s After School Satan (ASS) Clubs before, but closely examine what they’re actually saying here, and see if you read it the same way we do.

We think “meets at” is being used in its absolutely most expansive sense, as in “a thing that happened one time and might again”. Sort of like someone who has a set of golf clubs tucked away in their storage unit because they’d like to think of themselves as someone who would golf. (Eventually.) Likewise, “working to re-open” may or may not include any actual work beyond someone having said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be neat if…?”

UPDATE: After The Satanic Temple announced that After School Satan Club is “back”, once again suggesting the above interpretation was correct, as of Jan. 9, 2022, this has been explicitly confirmed as true by the Campaign Director for ASSC.

From the same announcement on Facebook after a savvy person pointed this out and linked to TST’s own year-in-review:

Screenshot of Facebook conversation

Person 1: So you’re admitting that you lied in your 2021 wrap-up about ASSC, or else it wouldn’t be *back*? Am I reading it right?

Andrea Williams Wright: ASSC was on hold due to Covid limiting the after school activities in most public schools. [Conversation linking to TST’s year-in-review ommitted in screenshot] I seem to be missing the mix of present and future and would like to help you with the confusion regarding ASSC. We didn’t have any clubs operating in 2021 [emphasis added], but we were working on updating documentation and fielding emails from potential volunteers despite the Covid hold. As the Campaign Director for ASSC, feel free to PM me so that I can help with any questions.

While this is another extension of Cevin Soling’s supposed self-directed education interests, it’s actually telling you a lot by the lack of any specificity about this program, what it has done, where it has done it, and where it is doing it now—given that this is support to be a report telling people how their money is being spent.

For those of you keeping track, no, we have not seen a dollar figure of revenues or expenditures so far, and spoilers: we will not.

TST and Mahanoy Area School District: TST distributed free hoodies to interested Satanists in Pennsylvania’s Mahanoy School District as part of a religious ritual. This comes in response to administrators threatening to take disciplinary action against students who wished to participate in a peaceful protest by wearing hoodies against the dress code policy. … The hoodies were internally adorned with messages such as, “Fuck the Mahanoy School Board” and “Fuck Mahanoy’s Petty Tyrants.”
TST and Mahanoy Area School District
Devil’s Advocate Scholarship: TST announced the winners of our 2021 Devil’s Advocate Scholarship. We expanded the submission categories this year to encompass many different types of learners. Check out our scholarship recipients’ pieces here.
Devil’s Advocate Scholarship

The “Fuck The Mahanoy School Board” thing seems like a shameless cash grab because The Satanic Temple did absolutely nothing in that case besides announce that they had made clothing as a way to assert themselves into a case the Supreme Court was already hearing. They didn’t even claim to have any local members of the Temple who were students there.

So the only impact TST could have had was getting themselves attention from local and national press coverage and whatever merch sales and gullible donations that followed from that. The detail that their version of activism consistently involves hawking the T-shirts that they sell at people to wear seems like more than a coincidence.

Meanwhile, the scholarship thing is just Cevin Soling being Cevin Soling. But as we’ve said, a contest to get kids to explain why “school really sucks” and get some money for more schooling is not the worst thing.

So the scholarships are fine except for the consistent undisclosed overlap of Soling’s public life under his own name with his pseudonymous public life via TST.

TST’s Grey Faction: Grey Faction is an educational and advocacy organization whose mission is to protect mental health patients and their families from dangerous pseudoscience and discredited therapies, particularly in the area of so-called “repressed memories.” Read more here. In April, Grey Faction hosted its first annual conference. They discussed the origins of the Satanic Panic in the US and across the world, the unscientific practices in the mental health field, and the initiatives…
TST’s Grey Faction

We don’t have bad things to say about The Satanic Temple’s Grey Faction, which is separate from claiming there are not bad things to say about it.

On December 31, 2019, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation abruptly announced it would dissolve. In some ways, this wasn’t surprising. Pam and Peter Freyd are both in their 80s, and nearly half the group’s board members are listed as “deceased.” The FMSF had raised more than $7.7 million since its founding, but the donations and dues tapered off over the years, and it ceased publishing its newsletter in 2011. The foundation gave birth to a number of offshoots; its Australian counterpart is also defunct, while the British False Memory Society remains active. The Satanic Temple, a religious group with chapters in 21 states, has a vocal false-memory subgroup called the Grey Faction. The temple’s co-founder, a 43-year-old man named Doug Misicko (who uses the pseudonym Lucien Greaves), earns a living creating content for 1,097 fans on Patreon. If the FMSF are the genteel, gray-haired grandparents, the Grey Faction are their online, cult-obsessed sons.

This single paragraph by New York Magazine’s Katie Heaney in her “Memory War” article brought her no end of grief from Lucien Greaves, as well as his sycophants and the usual suspects of horribles.

If you are someone who is targeted more directly by the work Grey Faction does, clearly, all of this will very much be “not fine”.

It would also be kind of nice to find out someday how exactly Grey Faction is officially structured within TST’s umbrella or “constellation” of organizations, or what budgets their conferences and other actions officially come from, but it’s not an area we’ve had time to focus on ourselves, and there’s a lot here because it goes back decades as an extension of Lucien Greaves’ former life when he was primarily Doug “Mesner” and playing independent journalist on Process.com, Dysgenics.org, working with the False Memory Sydrome Foundation and issuing press releases under yet more pseudonyms.

If you’re someone who knows a lot about this and is upset that we’re not speaking more about it, please do contribute information (with citations) to The.Satanic.Wiki so we can learn more without having to spend many, many hours we don’t have digging ourselves. There are only so many hours in the day, and we have to sleep for some of them.

However, Grey Faction actually did host and broadcast a convention this year attended by such luminaries as “everyone’s favorite Satanic sexologist” Dr. Eric Sprankle as well as “the guy who literally wrote the book on The Satanic Temple but who journalists should definitely stop treating as a neutral authority by now” Dr. Joseph P. Laycock.

This means Grey Faction is as close to an actual accomplishment as this “annual report” gets, provided no one notices that “how much money did you spend” and “where did the money come from” remain unanswered.

Satanic Ministry and Ordination Program: TST unveiled our new program for members to become ordained. Milestone events such as weddings and funerals are deeply personal. These moments should be an authentic expression of who we are and what we believe. Members of TST can now have a ministerial role within their community by performing weddings, funerals, commitment ceremonies, unbaptisms, and other religious rituals in a manner consistent with one’s values.
Satanic Ministry and Ordination Program

There’s some funny stuff going on with The Satanic Temple’s “Satanic Ministry and Ordination Program.”

But for us at this point, it’s more “funny ha-ha” than “funny strange” because it makes complete sense based on our understanding of TST’s goals and mission.

How much does it cost to register to become ordained by The Satanic Temple? The current cost of registration for a new candidate is $149. Ordination expires after one year, and must be renewed each year for ordained status to remain active. The current cost to renew your ordained status is $59. Will there be any “surprise” fees after registration? After you are an ordained minister, you may want to purchase some items in the Minister Supplies Store: certificates, stickers, etc.
Satanic Ministry and Ordination Program FAQ

TST does seem to be doing this for real, but the $149 and $59 fees (rather than more honest $150 and $60) really drive home how crass and venal the whole thing seems.

There is potentially more that could be said about this, but it is actually happening, and once again the issue is the complete lack of transparency about where the money ends up afterward.

This is particularly relevant if it ends up in the general fund of United Federation of Churches, LLC, which we know the owners dip into as they deem appropriate with no oversight. And if you think they’ll ever tell you — well, they’re not legally required to, and together we are currently working our way through what they claim to be an annual report. So.

Bladensburg Ritual: In response to a Supreme Court decision, TST has designated the 40-foot-tall Bladensburg Peace Cross in Maryland to be a Satanic icon. TST will now refer to the monument as “The Bladensburg Satanic Peace Cross” and host a ritual in honor of Satanist veterans at the Bladensburg site.
Bladensburg Ritual

We heard tell that The Satanic Temple’s “ritual” involved them having to wait across the street because of the existence of christo-fascist counter protestors.

A shame since some fans of @QueerSatanic sent in a heartwarming photo of their attempt to communicate with supporters of The Satanic Temple coming to the event.

bladensburg cross with sign and chalk graffiti that says "TST drop your abusive SLAPP suit against former members"

Message on sign and chalk reads: “TST drop your abusive SLAPP suit against former members.”

So this did actually happen (and happen this year even!), just not to any end or glory. The Satanists who showed up were outnumbered and partially chased away, but to the credit of these rank-and-file TST members, they went through with their ceremony and then claimed “ope, it’s a Satanic icon now — no backsies.”

Claiming they re-named the Bladensburg Peace Cross as a “Satanic Peace Cross” is definitely not the worst sort of thing The Satanic Temple does, and it’s one of the few places where their “we declare!” schtick is somewhat appropriate.

But, we are people TST continues to accuse us of being dangerous violence-endorsers for having been willing to associate ourselves with antifascism while TST describes its own orientation as a principled dedication to complete nonviolence that is defamed by any mistaken association of them with such antifascism. Therefore, the Temple’s consistent willingness to enthusiastically celebrate martial accomplishment stands in marked contrast to how the Temple talks about antifascists or other police brutality protesters — or even about completely nonviolent Palestinian rights activists who support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions on Israel.

Because not only does TST wholeheartedly support U.S. military veterans with this and a failed monument we’ll talk about more later, The Satanic Temple also has long had an official active-duty military membership group.

You can say a lot of things about the United States military, but “nonviolent” is not an adjective that has ever been particularly appropriate for it.

TST sues Boston In February, TST sued Boston for denying its request to deliver an invocation at the start of City Council meetings. The Boston City Council permits invocations from representatives of other faiths by invitation only. This practice ensures that only faiths approved by council members are ever allowed to speak. In July, a US District Court Judge TST’s lawsuit against the city of Boston to move forward.
TST sues Boston

Moving on: The Satanic Temple has a federal lawsuit that has not been dismissed yet, and it’s an invocation case, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for some success.

As “Malcolm Jarry”, Cevin Soling is complaining that TST hasn’t been invited by a city council member to give an invocation in Boston. This is a gripe that goes back to at least 2016 when Travis LeSaffre was shaking things up about it.

Last week, LeSaffre sent letters to District 7 Councilor Tito Jackson, District 9 Councilor Mark Ciommo and City Council President Michelle Wu asking them to sponsor the Satanic Temple’s invocation.

LeSaffre said he wrote to Wu as council president and to Jackson and Ciommo because they still have openings this year for sponsorship.

But those two did not respond to his letters at all and Wu’s office ultimately rejected his request, LeSaffre said.

Wu told the Herald her tenure as council president has seen a variety of religious speakers, but it’s up to individual councilors to choose speakers they think represent their communities.

“We each have a very long list of folks we’d like to invite,” Wu said.

The ACLU might have been able to win this sort of thing, but it’s TST and they’re being actively, aggressively obnoxious so far.

The Satanic Temple actually tried to get Wu, who in the 2021 general election was favored to win the mayorship, to come all the way to Salem the morning of Election Day to give her deposition about the case.

When asked for comment by the Boston Herald, Lucien Greaves gave one sort of answer.

Lucien Greaves, the head of TST, said this is all a big misunderstanding, and that this is just a weird coincidence.

“That wasn’t us trying to be smartasses,” Greaves told the Herald, saying any other day should be fine. “I wasn’t really expecting this to be a thing.”

TST house lawyer Matt Kezhaya went… in another direction with Universal Hub.

“I feel no remorse for the action I took. As an attorney, it is my sworn duty to do anything short of breaking the law to see to it that my client’s goals are recognized. This business of litigation is zero-sum. Everything I do which can benefit my client will cause an equal and opposite effect on the other side. I serve my purpose with all the zealous advocacy which my oath commands. And I expect nothing less from my adversaries.”

So somewhere in between “Ope, we’re just so incompetent we didn’t even realize that Tuesday morning was Election Day” and Conan the Barbarian answering “What is best in life?” we have The Satanic Temple’s strategy in this case.

We’ll have to see how it pans out.

Sober Faction: The Satanic Temple Sober Faction provides peer support recovery for addiction free from the pseudoscience and superstitious dogma entrenched in most mainstream programs. Sober Faction, now with over 3500 members worldwide, promotes selfdiscovery backed by self-empowerment and compassion instead of shame and religious dogma. Sober Faction celebrates individuality while also empowering others as a community to celebrate their unique selves….
New Campaigns and Congregations: 1) Sober Faction; 2) Satanic Representation Campaign; 3.) FDA and Religious Access to Mifepristone

Moving on, and we’re in the home stretch.

Here, only “The Satanic Temple Sober Faction” is really new in terms of what’s already been covered. And the Sober Faction sounds pretty great, right?

Sobriety help that isn’t of an “Alcoholics Anonymous”-style and its wink-wink, nudge-nudge “secular” higher power stuff. It probably has 3,500 actual members in terms of people who have engaged with the community in a meaningful way at one time or another. There’s really a lot to like.

The problem is really the change the Temple is announcing because Sober Faction becoming pulled into TST officially is actually a bad thing.

See, The Satanic Temple has a tendency to do something called “enclosing the commons.”

Communities do a bunch of work that exists in common — that is, jointly shared rather than possessed by one particular figure or brand. Then, once that project is profitable: bam, TST moves in.

screenshot of “Satanic Sober Faction Group” changing to “The Satanic Temple Sober Faction Group”
Screenshot of “Satanic Sober Faction Group” changing to “The Satanic Temple Sober Faction Group”

The group already existed as “Satanic Sober Faction”, and had developed a godless program, but it used the seven tenets.

The difference is, with that loose affiliation, The Satanic Temple couldn’t control its membership or sell T-shirts of it.

screenshot of The Satanic Sober Faction T-shirt
Screenshot of The Satanic Sober Faction T-shirt

(If you were wondering, yes, since it lacks the 501(c)(3) note on the sales page, this would be a for-profit corporation purchase.)

The Satanic Temple has pillaged Satanism and esotericism already and cordoned off things they can claim with lawsuits (e.g. Baphomet) and the threat of lawsuits, or as part of SLAPP suits.

The same principle is in effect here: communal work done for the commons is seized to become private profit.

Because “The Satanic Temple” is many things, but the most important one is that The Satanic Temple is the intellectual property of a for-profit corporation: United Federation of Churches, LLC, doing business as “The Satanic Temple”, and it is owned by people wealthy enough to weaponize intellectual property to their benefit.

So what had been a group of vulnerable people looking for a Satanic or at least non-AA sober community, and was built and cultivated along those lines by volunteer labor without profit, became absorbed into and the property of a for-profit corporation owned by two men who now have sole control of the general fund without oversight.

Sadie Satanas: “Hey friends. This group is for members of The Satanic Temple. It says so right in the about section and on the joining questions. We don’t proselytize, and we’re not interested in convincing people to join us, but if you’re not a part of the Temple, this is not the group for you.
Screenshot of Facebook group TranSatanic where high-ranking TST member Sadie Satanas says, “This group is for members of The Satanic Temple.”

The claim by Sober Faction leaders that “it’s not hierarchical” is demonstrably false when examining TST’s own organizational charts, and the fact that the people higher up in the pyramid may sincerely believe there isn’t a pyramid below them doesn’t mean that pyramid isn’t very, very real to those existing in it below them.

When these groups get pulled into The Satanic Temple more officially, they don’t just privatize all of the value from the community (what good is a group if no one is there?), they also expel people and limit criticism of TST and its leaders.

The Temple, despite its professed free-speech maximalism and belief in the “freedom to offend” as a central tenet, absolutely does not believe that applies to any criticism of them. So, if you’re someone who has invested in a local community and made it an important part of your support network, but now the Lords of Salem start to interfere, what do you do? Do you stay and just keep your mouth shut about criticism so you aren’t expelled and treated like a pariah? Or, do you bite the bullet and leave behind the work and relationships you’d been building before?

If you are a member of TST who has made it this far and you think that that dynamic for a local chapter/congregation or related group is ridiculous, and you think that your local group is nothing like that, remember how TST operates even at the local level in terms of hierarchy and how it’s almost impossible to know why local ex-members left or were expelled. So what seems like a healthy, positive community sometimes isn’t when you learn about why people who used to be there aren’t anymore (and learn it from someone other than those who pushed them out).

But in short, The Satanic Temple adds no value and instead only, vampire-like, extracts the lifeblood already there.

If TST is fishing for a lawsuit with Sober Faction, expect them to get a lot of attention and some money from that, but also for it to end up leading to nothing when you check back a couple years later.

Moving on: “Salem Art Gallery” is the biz name of 64 Bridge LLC, a for-profit corporation owned solely by Cevin Soling. 64 Bridge LLC is officially what owns the HQ of all of The Satanic Temple’s primary corporations

Note: the Baphomet was originally crowdfunded and intended for Oklahoma before the ACLU won that case (without TST’s involvement), and ever since it has largely been something people buy a ticket to come take a picture with then post to social media.

Again, we have to wonder which among the “constellation of affiliate entities” in this self-described religion gets the money for that ticket-purchase transaction and how that revenue gets used. We have to wonder because this annual report certainly won’t tell us.

TST’s efforts to advocate for the separation of church and state and to secure the religious rights of our members surely aren’t  met without animosity from the greater public. … TST will be continuing our existing efforts and advancing our campaigns, all of which will require support,  morally, socially, and financially, from the TST community in order to achieve success on the national stage.
Closing Comments

So for our final section, it’s time to really focus on the negative space. Yes, The Satanic Temple actively lies repeatedly about verifiable facts, as we have shown.

But the Temple called this “a report showing how your donations are being used to secure TST members’ religious freedom.”

We see no budget breakdown, no pie-chart or overhead breakdown; we don’t see how much money Cevin Soling is paying himself in rent from his other companies, or how it works for Reason Alliance to buy billboards otherwise branded and in the voice of TST.

We see no actual legal victories to point to on examination, and nothing like the internal organizational charts TST provides that do actually help clarify somewhat how all of these various overlapping corporations with their different legal statuses but shared headquarters and owners serve different roles for TST.

A bunch of front companies all owned by the same people is a red flag, yeah. But it’s also possibly explicable, the sort of thing a responsible organization would include; for example, Planned Parenthood Federation explaining what makes the Action Fund different.

We don’t get some sort of itemized list about how much money has been spent on each or all (failed) lawsuits in 2021; we don’t get audited financial statements or Form 990s for The Satanic Temple like the Southern Poverty Law Center makes available and accessible.

We get it. Like polishing your resume for a job interview, you can expect TST to polish up their past year. But most people genuinely do not know how bad TST’s legal track record is, and it seems like people deserve to know how much of their money The Satanic Temple blew on their failed Belle Plaine case, including how much worse they made it by filing a second case rather than waiting to appeal, leading to them getting sanctioned and paying for the Defendant’s legal costs.

In all of this, the Temple certainly doesn’t tell all their donors and members about their oh-so-righteous legal battle against four former members of the Washington State chapter. (Hello.)

You don’t see anything about Lucien Greaves getting to own his famous “Hail Satan?” antagonist Jason Rapert in the ACLU’s 10 Commandments case Cave v. Thurston, which is getting to close to hitting four years of litigation.

Maybe because that’s been extremely expensive, as well as in legal jargon “fucking embarrassing” for the Temple at every step, and something that has brought their reputation even lower with the ACLU.

There also are the unknown number of amicus briefs and other legal actions like TST’s three(?) ongoing Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination complaints. We only know about the amicus brief because Marc Randazza tweeted about it; we only know about the MCAD complaints because one was announced for a fundraiser and the other two showed up in an unrelated legal disclosure released as evidence for a motion by the Defense. Without having transparent disclosure about how much money is being spent, on what, and where, we have to rely on TST making unforced errors, which does happen, and people gossiping about what is worth following up on. Neither is an ideal form of transparency.

The Satanic Temple is — with this newsletter — telling their supporters, “We need you to continue giving us time, money, and resources, and please, please do not actually look any close at what we’re doing with those things.”

And the thing is, yeah, there’s a bunch of people who will, isn’t there?

If you learned something new from this thread or want to chip in to defray some of the costs of downloading these legal documents, please tip your writers. Alternatively, get you a sticker.

We hope our case will get dismissed again soon and The Satanic Temple will be too embarrassed to re-file or appeal, but relying on TST’s shame and sense of decency does not appear to ever be a worthwhile bet.

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

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