HELLERTOWN, Pennsylvania (LifeSiteNews) — A federal judge has ordered a school district in eastern Pennsylvania to allow “After School Satan Club” meetings on district property.
Citing the First Amendment, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled Monday that Saucon Valley School District could not prevent The Satanic Temple from sponsoring club meetings on school grounds. However, the court upheld the school district’s refusal to distribute permission slips for the Satan club.
“When confronted with a challenge to free speech, the government’s first instinct must be to forward expression rather than quash it. Particularly when the content is controversial or inconvenient,” Judge John M. Gallagher, a Trump appointee, wrote in the ruling, which was posted to the website of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the organization that sued Saucon Valley School District on behalf of The Satanic Temple.
“Here, although The Satanic Temple, Inc.’s objectors may challenge the sanctity of this controversially named organization, the sanctity of the First Amendment’s protections must prevail,” Judge Gallagher added. “Indeed, it is the First Amendment that enumerates our freedoms to practice religion and express our viewpoints on religion and all the topics we consider sacred.”
According to Monday’s ruling, Saucon Valley School District rescinded its approval of The Satanic Temple’s application on February 24, claiming the group violated the district’s “advertising restriction” in two Facebook posts promoting the new “After School Satan Club.”
Also around this time, per the ruling, the district had “received over 40 phone calls and 50 emails or handwritten letters, daily, from concerned staff, parents and community members.” The district had also closed all schools on February 23 after an anonymous man left a threatening voicemail message referencing the satan club.
Several “After School Satan Clubs” sponsored by The Satanic Temple have cropped up at schools around the United States in recent months, leading to widespread parental backlash, prayerful protests, and concerned citizen pleas before school boards. The Satanic Temple is also well known for publicly supporting abortion-on-demand and sponsoring LGBT “pride” events.
“As far as I can tell, at best the Satanic Club exists to go against pre-existing Christian school clubs. At worst, this club really does exist to worship Lucifer and his historic role as the archetypal revolutionary who denies all rules and all authority,” conservative student activist Joseph Gensens told a Virginia school board meeting last month.
“Satan is universally regarded through history as a tempter, a liar, a murderer, and a thief. I think it’s safe to say that the second worst case scenario is closer to the true purpose of the club. After all, it’s called Satan Club for a reason.”