Reason Interviews

Hail Satan? A New Documentary Depicts Devil Worshipers as Unlikely Defenders of the First Amendment

Director Penny Lane chronicles the rise of the Satanic Temple, a group that combines theatrical stunts with political activism.


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"The Satanic Temple is a new religious organization that was founded in 2013, kind of as a prank, but very quickly gained a huge amount of authentic followers," says Penny Lane, director of Hail Satan?, a documentary premiering at select theaters this week.

Headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, the Satanic Temple began by organizing theatrical stunts designed to shock people. As its membership grew, political activism became central to the Temple's mission. It challenged Christian monuments on public land and opposed the teaching of religion in public schools, making enemies of politicians, television pundits, and pastors across the country.

So what do followers of the Satanic Temple believe? "You do find a range of political views within this religious organization," Lane says. "But when your religious tenets are about rebellion against authority, checking your beliefs against our best evidence…autonomy, freedom, liberty—yeah, you certainly see a large overlap with a libertarian point of view."

In this interview, Lane talks about what makes the Satanic Temple tick and what its struggles with Christians, politicians, and the mainstream media say about religion in America today.

Produced, hosted, and edited by Todd Krainin.

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