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Guest Article

The Satanic Temple, What The Hell Is The Satanic Temple?

April 3, 2022

What the hell is “The Satanic Temple”? — Ep. 4: Reason Alliance Ltd.

For more information, see The.Satanic.Wiki

“If you gave $1,000 to The Satanic Temple, how would you know where it ended up?”

That, as much as anything, is the sort of question that the Temple’s owners and supporters have no way of answering satisfactorily even as they continue to have the audacity to ask donors for six figures every few months and to claim it’s all going to their fight for abortion access without offering any evidence to that effect.

The only somewhat effective answer on behalf of The Satanic Temple is to assert that there is also no evidence of financial impropriety by the Temple, as TST did when suing Newsweek and its reporter, but this was an overreach they may come to regret.

Because, actually, there is such evidence, and it’s all thanks to the one portion of TST’s “constellation of affiliate entities” required to publicly report its finances: Reason Alliance Ltd.


Last time in this series, we talked about how “The Satanic Temple” completed its journey from a Spectacle Films Inc. project—a prank documentary film with a discrete final product—into something else. Whatever that “something” was, and we’re still not quite sure, it required an ongoing for-profit corporation with intellectual property and trademarks.

While they were still in the prank documentary phase and listed as being based out of New York (like Spectacle Films), whatever “The Satanic Temple” was had already managed to raise more than $28,000 with an IndieGoGo campaign, based solely on the promise they might accomplish something in the future that would totally own the Christian theocrats.

“Put a Satanic Monument at Oklahoma Capitol”

The question might have been, “How are we supposed to report this money we raised for a prank film?” or it might have been, “How do we get some more of this?” Indeed, the Lucien Greaves IndieGoGo account continued to be active into 2017.

Whatever it was, that process from one sort of thing to the other took about two years from its genesis and first website registrations in March 2012 to Douglas Misicko—now best known as “Lucien Greaves”—registering United Federation of Churches, LLC, in Massachusetts in February 2014.

On Sep. 26, 2014, about half a year after UFC LLC’s founding, Misicko registered Reason Alliance Ltd. as what would quickly be approved as a regular 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Image
Reason Alliance” logo circa 2018
Image
Reason Alliance” logo circa 2014

It was Misicko and only Misicko’s name of both corporations for the first year. In fact, while he was the sole owner of Spectacle Films, Cevin Soling didn’t get added to United Federation of Churches till 2015, it wasn’t till the 2016 filing that Soling joined Reason Alliance. For some reason, Soling was left off Reason Alliance’s annual report again in 2017, and then a very interesting thing happened in 2018: Misicko and Soling, and each’s pseudonym, “Doug Mesner” and “Malcolm Jarry”, respectively, were given as officers for Reason Alliance for the Mass. Secretary of State’s required annual report for that corporation.

What’s more, “Malcolm Jarry” and Cevin Soling have remained listed as officers up to the most recent one in 2021 despite just being different names for the same person.

If that table looks confusing, that’s probably because it’s the point.

Or at least, there is no innocent explanation we can think of for using pseudonyms on official government documents as you register similarly named for-profit and nonprofit corporations… which you then use to share money between them without always declaring that’s what you’re doing.

We’ll get to that soon.

GuideStar profile for Reason Alliance Ltd.
GuideStar profile for “The Satanic Temple

(They would go on to do worse, of course. What would ultimately become “The Satanic Temple Inc.”, the entity that is a nonprofit church, seems, according to GuideStar, to have registered itself as being owned by “Malcolm Jarry” and “Lucien Greaves”. This is bad because neither of those are real people, and remember, “Lucien Greaves” is not just the pseudonym of Doug Misicko, it’s also a trademark of United Federation of Churches LLC. But we’ll have to wait to get more into that next time.)

So, maybe the original plans were just to have “United Federation of Churches LLC” handle for-profit matters and “Reason Alliance Ltd.” handle the nonprofit side. As far back as the summer of 2013, Misicko at least was talking about having a TST nonprofit being something he was interested in doing; maybe Soling and the third person in control of the Spectacle Films project, David Guinan a.k.a. “Nicholas Crowe“, weren’t bought into something like that long term yet. We don’t know.

GuideStar search results for “Satanic Temple”

The inclusion of search terms “Satanic Temple” for their GuideStar profile; Reason Alliance’s website promoting seven “values” to closely mirror TST’s more famous “tenets”; and that 2018 logo variant included above all point to a close if not interchangeable relationship between the two.

So, even if there were nothing else going on, that would be enough to raise some questions about how up-and-up this whole endeavor was.

But of course, that is not the only thing going on.


In our article about After School Satan clubs, we mentioned how the only club to ever actually exist prior to 2022 had its space paid for by Reason Alliance Ltd.

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.

We’re still not going to go much more deeply into that because Peter J. Reilly did a sufficiently thorough job of covering the whole kerfuffle that for once you’re better off reading him than relying us on to do original work about it.

The nice thing about Judicial Watch is that they provide the source documents that they base their fantasies on. So you can see for yourself that Reason Alliance Ltd , which does in fact sponsor the After School Satan program, applied for exempt status on October 21, 2014 using Form 1023-EZ and that the IRS positive response is date stamped October 31, 2014.  Reason Alliance Ltd. is connected to The Satanic Temple.  …

Only that document does not support Judicial Watch’s claim when you include the “While the IRS makes conservative groups wait years” part. In a way it is because of the activities of Judicial Watch and the other scandal narrative promoters, that Professor Samuel Brunson calls the Outrage Industrial Complex in his coverage of this flap. 

One of the IRS response to the service failure was to provide an expedited exemption process for smaller groups (Less than $50,000 in income and $250,000 in assets).  Form 1023-EZ  is two pages as opposed to 26 pages for Form 1023.  It is filed electronically and according to this story in the Journal of Accountancy, average processing time is thirteen days. Lucien [Greaves] told me that it had actually taken five weeks, but he was measuring from the time they hired a lawyer to set the group up. Sending the exempt application to the IRS was likely about the lawyer’s last step.

So Judicial Watch’s disparate treatment claim is entirely unfounded. Unless they can find some conservative or Christian groups that have had different results from using the expedited process established in 2014 in order to avoid a repeat of Teapartygate, there is nothing to complain about.

Read Reilly’s piece in full for all of the ins and outs of the controversy with After School Satan clubs, but keep the understanding that TST wanted controversy on the largely non-existent clubs rather than on their corporate structure and tax status.

For our purposes, what’s important is that it’s another example of Reason Alliance having a blurry relationship with The Satanic Temple. Because everything about After School Satan clubs indicated they were by TST, and yet when it came time to actually pay, Reason Alliance did that.

“So what?”

Well, we can compare some of Reason Alliance’s public activities with what they reported on their Form 990-EZs, which they may not have realized would become available since initially, they didn’t report more than $50,000 in revenue annually.

The 2015 form has nothing very interesting except for claiming no donations, meaning the crowdfunded Baphomet statue money went elsewhere.

The 2016 form, however, admits that it brought in $8,672 and sent more than 70 percent of that back to the owners, either directly or through their for-profit company.

This may actually be a really big problem.

Here’s what the IRS says about what 501(c)(3)s are not allowed to do:

A section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator’s family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization.

We are not lawyers or tax accountants, so make your own plain reading of that.

Yes, in 2016, Reason Alliance didn’t have much money coming into it. That would change.

In their 2017 form, Reason Alliance is reporting $25,824 in revenue. More than two thirds is admitted as being handed back to Soling and Misicko in the form of their for-profit corporation, but possible more than that. Legal fees and professional fees are not specified further, and while United Federation of Churches LLC was involved in some court cases during this time, we’ve never been able to find evidence of “Reason Alliance” listed as a litigant.

The Satanic Temple’s first abortion cases were filed in 2015, and despite their sloppiness, surely cost more than $2,293 to file. But since they were using Cevin Soling’s business lawyer W. James MacNaughton for those cases rather than someone more qualified in that area of law, maybe the billing was delayed a few years, maybe the payment came out of a different account. We don’t know, and it’s not really worth speculating.

But in their 2018 form, Reason Alliance reports $130,124 in revenue, and that means they have exceeded the $50,000 threshold and have to report their finances publicly.

Here, the references to “United Federation of Churches” are dropped, but “Legal Fees” jumps up to $90,393 and “Professional Fees” to $28,052.

The only other indication of how this money was spent was that $124,420 was spent to “encourage reasoning”.

In their 2019 form, revenue continued to climb, more than doubling to $358,786. Keep in mind, this is just for Reason Alliance, which does not include merchandise sales.

They continued to use it to “encourage reasoning”, naturally, but finally bothered to fill out the part of the form for specific expenses. $63,345 went to legal, $70,913 to “professional fees”, $8,378 to occupancy, and $10,025 to accounting.

As of April 2022, no subsequent Form 990s are available.

Now, you can make the argument that people donating money to Reason Alliance wanted it to go to The Satanic Temple’s legal fights, and all this did was help them out by making it tax-deductible.

But if that’s so, why wasn’t Reason Alliance the one involved in the lawsuits in the first place?

Another question is exactly what all those professional fees would look like if they were disaggregated, and how many of them would reveal they were ultimately ending up in the pockets of Cevin Soling and Doug Misicko.

For example, that “Occupancy” fee looks fairly innocuous. If anything, $8,378 is peanuts for rent. But by 2019, the headquarters of most corporations associated with The Satanic Temple plus a few others was 64 Bridge Street in Salem, a building owned by 64 Bridge LLC… a corporation owned by Cevin Soling.

Even though they stopped being as explicit about it, it seems pretty clear that the increasing the amount of money being spent to “Encourage Reasoning” actually still meant being handed back to United Federation of Churches LLC. Hopefully, the legal fees actually were spent that way, but it’s entirely possible that it was just dumped into the for-profit’s general fund.

As we’ve talked about before, Misicko’s deposition in Cave v. Thurston makes it apparent that the general fund of that corporation was not especially closely monitored.

A.     It looks like it's screen grabs from the online shop from The Satanic Temple Web site.
Q.     Okay. And so these are items that are for sale on SatanicTemple.com; is that right?
A.     Correct.
Q.     Okay. And when a person makes -- makes a purchase on TheSatanicTemple.com of one of these items, where does that money go? Does it go to a particular -- one of the particular legal entities? Or does it go into an account controlled by you? Or by Malcolm Jarry? Or what happens to that?
A.     Well, that -- that goes into a general fund.
Q.     Okay. A general fund for non-tax exempt contributions?
A.     A -- a general fund I guess generated by the -- by the for-profit incorporation of The Satanic Temple.
Q.     Okay. And so that would be -- that would be the United Federation of Churches?
A.     I assume. I assume so.
Q.     All right.

Again, this was the same general fund that Misicko admitted using on an as-needed basis for rent and whatever other expenses helped him stay afloat.

Misicko has referred to himself as “the most knowledgable” representative of United Federation of Churches but also the only officer of Reason Alliance, so reading Misicko’s deposition discussing it is telling you an awful lot.

Q: Okay. All right. I’m handing Exhibit 38. Do you recognize this as the Reason Alliance, Limited, Articles of Organization filed September 26,
2014? And you can see that up at the — up at the very top. And I believe it’s also on the last page as well, September 26, 2014.

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Let’s take a look at the first page there, that big paragraph.
It starts out: “The corporation is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposes to promote the tenets as herein described, including for such purposes: The making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code,” and then it continues on.

Did I read that correctly?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. So which organization was contemplated here
as the recipient of distributions from Reason Alliance,
Limited?

A. I don’t know technically in legalistic terms if it would be that that would be disbursed to United Federation of Churches for use by The Satanic Temple, but the notion was that — and this was something conceived of by the lawyer we worked with as being how this just
works.

If you’re both running a nonprofit and an LLC — because we were raising donations for our campaigns on a nonprofit basis. And — and donors could get their tax writeoff, the 501(c)(3), that kind of thing. And that needed to be kept separate from the other level of
incorporation.

And this is — this is the method by which the lawyer — let’s see. Yeah, this was — this was James MacNaughton devised as being the — the way that this is done.

Q. Okay. So was this a fund-raising — was this an organization created for fund-raising purposes then?

A. Yeah, I believe that would be an accurate way of putting that.

Q. Okay.

A. But this was, like, the 501(c)(3) entity attached to the fund-raising efforts of The Satanic Temple.

Q. Okay. And if you take a look at the third page there, it’s got — it lists Doug Misicko as president, treasurer, secretary, and director; is that right?

A. Correct.

Q. Has Reason Alliance ever had any other officers, directors or trustees or secretaries or — I’m going to leave one out — treasurers?

A. I — I don’t — I don’t think that’s ever changed throughout the paperwork. But, I — I mean, I should point out that this is kind of filled in for the purposes of satisfying the — the paperwork put forward by — by MacNaughton. My understanding was that that’s — that’s just what you do. So —

Q. Okay.

A. — now I’m not sure the status of Reason Alliance or if it’s something that’s useful to us…

Despite the creation of their nonprofit church, The Satanic Temple Inc., Reason Alliance has continued to exist.

It still pays for things like some (false) billboard ad campaigns TST has run.

“Abortions save lives!” billboard (Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / December 2020)

And The Satanic Temple’s “SatanCon” event in February 2022 was “sponsored by” Reason Alliance, but it’s not clear if it also collected the revenue or if some other entity did, whether that’s one of the for-profits or not.

The Satanic Temple's first annual conference February 11-13, 2022, sponsored by Reason Alliance, Ltd

It’s not obvious how much that would even matter given the way Doug Misicko, the only person officially able to speak to the finances of some of these orgs at various periods, has conflated them in depositions or on the witness stand.

Going back to that 2019 Form 990, the most recent one available, the problem is not that Misicko or Soling are compensated for their work as officers of Reason Alliance. Just the opposite, you should be paid a living wage for work you do regardless of whether it’s a for-profit of nonprofit.

But Misicko and Soling are clearly compensating themselves with money coming in to The Satanic Temple’s various front companies, they’re just doing it in a way that’s impossible for anyone else to keep track of in terms of who all is getting the money and how much.

In choosing to sue us with “United Federation of Churches LLC” but fundraise for it with “The Satanic Temple Inc.”, it’s quite clear that the ambiguity Misicko has demonstrated when pressed about finances is not purely his incompetence but also a feature.

“If you gave $1,000 to The Satanic Temple, how would you know where it ended up?”

Well, have a pretty good idea of where it’s all ending up. But it would really be nice to know how it’s getting there and how much.

Note: This article was nearly finished but needed a few more additions and revisions to public-ready.

Then, hundreds of pages of new depositions from an ongoing TST lawsuit became available, shedding new light on questions unable to be answered previously.

We will therefore have to return to this subject soon.

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