Full disclosure: Among the editors of Tarpaulin Sky Press are card-carrying members of The Satanic Temple (TST) — so we won’t attempt to disguise our glee in announcing that TST is now a legally protected church, receiving 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS, and ensuring that its members’ religious rights are now a matter of law.
This new status, elevated beyond the Temple’s previous designation as a religious non-profit, is a culmination of the organization’s years of work to establish itself within a constitutionally protected class, with all attributes designated to U.S. churches that are uniquely distinct from other charities or religious groups. Being granted tax-exempt status means that TST now has the same legal protections that other religions do, including access to public spaces as other religious organizations; affirming its standing in court when battling religious discrimination; and enabling TST to apply for faith-based government grants.
“In light of theocratic assaults upon the Separation of Church and State in the legislative effort to establish a codified place of privilege for one religious viewpoint”, says TST co-founder Lucien Greaves, “we feel that accepting religious tax exemption — rather than renouncing in protest — can help us to better assert our claims to equal access and exemption while laying to rest any suspicion that we don’t meet the qualifications of a true religious organization.”
To qualify as the first of its kind Church, as opposed to a religious non-profit, TST distinguishes itself from other non-theistic religious groups with its unique set of Tenets, as well as regular congregations and religious services, with an established headquarters located in Salem, MA.
“As ‘the religious’ are increasingly gaining ground as a privileged class, we must ensure that this privilege is available to all, and that superstition doesn’t gain exclusive rights over non-theistic religions,” says Greaves.
The designation of Church given to TST and its members affirms their rights as religious individuals and cannot be subject to question in legal proceedings.
Says Greaves: “Satan is here to stay.”
The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. Politically aware, Civic-minded Satanists and allies in The Satanic Temple have publicly opposed The Westboro Baptist Church, advocated on behalf of children in public school to abolish corporal punishment, applied for equal representation where religious monuments are placed on public property, provided religious exemption and legal protection against laws that unscientifically restrict women’s reproductive autonomy, exposed fraudulent harmful pseudo-scientific practitioners and claims in mental health care, and applied to hold clubs along side other religious after school clubs in schools besieged by proselytizing organizations.