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

  1. I’m OK with Satanists as long as they generally ignore Islam and focus instead on attacking the real threat — Christianity.

    1. Don’t you mean Easter Worshipers?

      1. As long as their “theatrical stunts” don’t include any form of deceitfully deadpan “parody,” they can be tolerated, at least for a time. See the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

        https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  2. Christians have nothing on those dirty “Easter Worshipers!” Even the news doesn’t care when they get bombed, they must be some really horrible people or something…

  3. Militant atheists gadflies. Yawn.

    1. Atheists are boring and tireseom. Film at 11.

      1. Hail Santa!

  4. They are comparing the tenets of libertarianism favorably to the positions of people who pose as worshippers of ultimate evil.

    Stop helping?

    1. There is a form of ‘Satanism’ that idealizes the Miltonic version of Satan as the ultimate individualist (most famously in Blake’s “Voice of the Devil” passage in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”) that could be pointed to as a sort of nascent libertarianism. It’s rooted in the notion that most everyone who reads Paradise Lost sympathizes with Satan-as-tragic-hero and sees God-Jesus as unappetizing authoritarians.

      The modern Church of Satan is a silly perversion of that, though. It simply takes Christianity and turns it upside-down in what is really just reactionism – taking someone else’s authoritarian system and meticulously contradicting it, and then dubbing the mirror-image result “anti-authoritarian.” Those types are faux-libertarian at best.

      1. There is a form of ‘Satanism’ that idealizes the Miltonic version of Satan as the ultimate individualist (most famously in Blake’s “Voice of the Devil” passage in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”) that could be pointed to as a sort of nascent libertarianism. It’s rooted in the notion that most everyone who reads Paradise Lost sympathizes with Satan-as-tragic-hero and sees God-Jesus as unappetizing authoritarians.

        This is, vaguely, the starting point of the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey.

        The modern Church of Satan is a silly perversion of that, though. It simply takes Christianity and turns it upside-down in what is really just reactionism – taking someone else’s authoritarian system and meticulously contradicting it, and then dubbing the mirror-image result “anti-authoritarian.” Those types are faux-libertarian at best.

        This is the basis for the Satanic Temple, the subject of this film, and darlings of the left.

      2. >>>could be pointed to as a sort of nascent libertarianism.

        makes sense.

      3. >The modern Church of Satan is a silly perversion of that, though. It simply takes Christianity and turns it upside-down in what is really just reactionism – taking someone else’s authoritarian system and meticulously contradicting it, and then dubbing the mirror-image result “anti-authoritarian.” Those types are faux-libertarian at best.

        No. Neither the Church of Satan nor the Satanic Temple are inverse christians. That’s the proper term for someone who literally worships the devil of the bible.

        The Satanic Temple strongly believes in the 1st amendment as well as separation of church and state. Constitutionally all religions must be treated equally under the law. So if the government decides to allow a church to give an invocation at a meeting, or place a nativity scene or 10 commandments monument on public property that is arguably fully constitutional… but ONLY if other religions are also given equal access.

        This of course is where The Satanic Temple (TST) pops up. Where there are christian invocations, displays or monuments (and in most cases, *exclusively* christian ones) the TST appears and states that they would like to do one as well. This leaves the government with 3 options: go ahead and let them do it (which the christians don’t want), deny their request and open themselves up to lawsuit for violating the establishment clause of the 1stA, or simply declare that NO such religious activity will be allowed from now on.

        Hence TST’s general stock in trade is exposing the massive hypocrisy of most modern christians: they will pontificate and protest until the cows come home over “religious freedom”… EXCEPT when it’s someone ELSE’S religion. Religious freedom under the Constitution means ALL religions, period. The United States is unequivocally NOT a christian nation nor has it ever been, period.

        Also as far as the comparison to libertarianism, read either group’s basic tenants. Both (but especially TST) boil down to: “Do what you want, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else.” If you think that’s not libertarianism or “faux-libertarianism”… you know literally nothing about libertarianism whatsoever.

        1. “This leaves the government with 3 options: go ahead and let them do it, deny their request and open themselves up to lawsuit for violating the establishment clause of the 1stA, or simply declare that NO such religious activity will be allowed from now on.”

          So their goal is to shut down public expressions of Christianity through trolling. How is that not reactionary?

          1. It’s not reactionary because religious monuments should go on private land, not public land. Religious prayers can be invoked in churches, temples, mosques, homes, private businesses or in private schools. You can pray on the streets if you want to. Religious prayers should not be forced on young children at public schools or invoked to start government meetings. The U.S. is not a theocracy of any type. Trolling is one way to keep creeping theocracy at bay.

          2. So their goal is to shut down public expressions of Christianity through trolling.

            Nope. Their explictly stated goal is to shut down government favoritism.

            Do not confuse government with public (you can have public displays on private property), and do not confuse “equal treatment” with “shut it all down” (the government has two options to avoid a lawsuit. Only one involves shutting it all down.)

        2. @KingAdrock “The United States is unequivocally NOT a christian nation nor has it ever been, period.” Dumbest fucking sentence I’ve read today and historically illiterate and no I am any way not religious, but facts are facts. The country was founded as a Christian nation, while not said clearly in the constitution all takes is to do a search on “Christian quotes of the founding fathers” and you’ll find a plethora of writings from letters, books and other things saying that they intended the country to be Christian or at least have Christian morals, culture and values. Even the Deists themselves profess and say the same thing.

        3. Hence TST’s general stock in trade is exposing the massive hypocrisy of most modern christians: they will pontificate and protest until the cows come home over “religious freedom”… EXCEPT when it’s someone ELSE’S religion. Religious freedom under the Constitution means ALL religions, period. The United States is unequivocally NOT a christian nation nor has it ever been, period.

          In other words, they are similar to Quakers. The Santanic Temple is definitely libertarian.

      4. “There is a form of ‘Satanism’ that idealizes the Miltonic version of Satan”

        This is a key point that most “Satanists” don’t actually understand. The concept of Satan as a rebellious angel is not a biblical one, and only really gained popularity in the late 17th-century from John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost”.

        They’re not rebelling against Christianity, they’re LARPing Restoration English poetry.

    2. I’ve known a few satanists and they were all more libertarian than the average churchgoer.

      1. Sure they were. We believe you. We’re they from the Niagara Falls area?

      2. That means a lot coming from an obvious Christophile like you, Chipper.

    3. As I understand it satanism is more about hedonism and anti-Christianity than evil (unless you think those things are evil).

      1. So it’s basically about being douchebags to mom and dad then.
        I wonder if Islamic countries have edgy kids trying to push buttons by pretending to worship Shaitan and Iblis.

  5. “It challenged Christian monuments on public land and opposed the teaching of religion in public schools”

    Basically, a group of contrarian busybodies.

  6. An article from the Onion, from back when the Onion was kind of funny:

    “OVERLAND PARK, KS–Stung by flagging album sales and Eminem’s supplanting him as Middle America’s worst nightmare, shock rocker Marilyn Manson has embarked on a door-to-door tour of suburbia in a desperate, last-ditch effort to shock and offend average Americans….

    “”That evening, Linda Schmidt was preparing to drive her daughter Alyssa to a Girl Scouts meeting when she found Manson standing on her porch draped in sheep entrails.

    “”I knew who he was, but I was kind of busy and didn’t really have time to chat,” Schmidt said. “He just kept standing there staring at me, expecting me to react in some way.”

    “Added Schmidt: “I tried to be nice and humor him a little. I said, ‘Yesiree, that sure is some shocking satanic imagery, no doubt about it. And that one eye with no color in the pupil, very disturbing. I’d sure like to suppress that.’ I mean, what do you say to Marilyn Manson?”

    “A deflated Manson remained on Schmidt’s porch as she and Alyssa drove off.”

    https://entertainment.theonion.com/marilyn-manson-now-going-door-to-door-trying-to-shock-p-1819565904

    1. That’s funny that you bring that up – that’s one of the few articles from The Onion I still remember and think about from time to time. It still makes me laugh every time.

    2. That’s actually pretty relevant and essentially what they’re trying to do.

  7. i like 1A disturbers of shit and don’t care who/what is worshiped.

    1. Yeah – it doesn’t seem at all surprising, actually, that Satanists are big into the 1A. It seems like part of the whole point of worshiping Satan is the tacit “because I can and you can’t stop me” statement.

      1. Do as you will shall be the whole of the law.

      2. Nothing is true, everything is permitted.

        1. Really? So establishment of religion is okay then? So what the fuck’s their problem?

  8. “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.”

    Good question!

    My observation is that there is common ground here. There is broad agreement in the United States on the importance of religious liberty.

    The question becomes, what is religious liberty? What does “religious” or “religion” mean in this context? I suspect, as a matter of law and popular opinion, the answer is hinted at in the title, “Defenders of the First Amendment.” What does “religion” mean for purposes of the Constitution?

    1. We don’t live in a theocracy. Our laws are supposed to be based on justice, which is demonstrated by the truth of logic and science.

      Freedom of religion affords people the right to believe that which has not been proven otherwise.

      Belief can never define truth or justice because conflicting beliefs would render the concepts meaningless.

      Believe what you want about the unproven, knowing that it should not affect any law.

      1. The 1A prohibits the federal government from imposing a national state religion, that’s all. More local levels of government should, of course, be able to incorporate religion into government, education, etc.

        1. Not unless you roll back Incorporation first.

      2. Rob Misek-

        “Our laws are supposed to be based on justice, which is demonstrated by the truth of logic and science.”

        What is justice, and how does logic and science demonstrate it?

        The truth is that justice is a moral concept, entailing moral claims and convictions all of which are “unproven.” There may be strong evidence and arguments for moral convictions, but they can’t be “proven” as absolutely true in a laboratory or in any materialist or scientific way. All of the law is founded on said unproven concepts of morality.

        Ideas about morality might rely on, or be associated with and supported by, philosophy, religion, feelings and emotions, shared hopes or objectives, or seemingly nothing in particular. Perhaps all of our beliefs are nothing more than purely materialistic biological phenomena resulting from evolutionary mechanisms, in which case any claim about the truth of any belief would be seriously undermined.

        Regardless of where our moral convictions come from, they form the basis of our views of justice, liberty, equality and such, and our judgments about politics and public policy. In a society that embraces liberty, including religious liberty, everyone must be free to express their beliefs, religious or otherwise, about these matters.

        That especially includes politicians and others advocating certain political or public policy determinations. Whether you’re Christian, Muslim, Zoroastrian, atheist or whatever, you can express your moral convictions and advocate for any implications on public policy. Of course, others might reject your views. Your preferred public policy may run afoul of the 1st amendment or other provisions of the Constitution, in which case you can always argue for a Constitutional amendment.

        So anyway, the point is, “justice” itself is “unproven” as is all morality that forms the basis of our laws.

    2. The IRS website has a page with the form for incorporating a religion and criteria for a USA recognized religion. The feds expect that any given religion will meet most, but not all, criteria. I know this, because I once made plans to start a religion dedicated to this guy I dated.

      It’s a long story.

      1. Was his name Zeb?

  9. “A New Documentary Depicts Devil Worshipers as Unlikely Defenders of the First Amendment”

    It’s totally likely, both ideologically and pragmatically.

    1. Progtards pretended to support the first amendment, until they began inhabiting positions of authority where they could suppress speech contrary to their progtardation.

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    1. Sorry, Satanic Temple, not Church of Satan.

      Splitters!

  11. God is the spirit of truth.

    Satan is the father of lies.

    Lying is not protected by the first amendment.

    1. No … Satan is like the narc trying to buy drugs … Oh wait.

      hmmm

    2. The first two statements are opinions and have no place in a court of law.

      The third statement, however, is not true. Ironically, you can only claim lies aren’t protected speech because lies are protected speech.

  12. As if these people are boring and predictable enough when they remain in their proper lair in the YouTube comments.

  13. I’ve Read The Questions Concerning The Laws of Nature, I can Tell You, Reason is a discipline.

    With Common Sense, Reason, and Faith, You’d come to The Realization,

    God is The Devil.

    1. By what reason do you conflate what we have defined to be opposites?

    2. 1. Did you actually read Locke or have you just copied a 4chan /b/ post? Because that’s what it reads like.

      2. Why Have You Capitalized The First Letter In Every Single Word Of Your Post?

  14. “The Church of Satan” isn’t the same place that was founded by Anton Lavey in the late 1960’s, LaVey was a libertarian who hated political correctness and nanny statism, listening to mainstream “Satanists” these days is like hearing retarded shrieking from trigger fag, snowflake SJW’s, out goes hating PC stupidity and in comes weak kneed, oppressive, leftard Satanism. No thanks.

  15. It is so heartwarming to see people improving the world like this.

    😀

    1. The U.S. needs more division and twitter tirades to make the world a better place:-.

  16. I just want to point out that Christianity is based on a human blood sacrifice and millions of its followers believe they eat human flesh and drink human blood every Sunday.

    1. You do realize that it’s the Catholics, not the Protestants, that believe transubstantiation occurs during Eucharist, don’t you? Probably not because you seem to have posted that in earnest.

      Try telling a fundamentalist, Mennonite, Methodist or an Evangelical that they believe when celebrating the Last Supper, that the bread and wine of the supper, are anything but bread and wine. Ever heard of the Reformation? Wars of Religion were fought over these issues.

      Since they whine that religion is the cause of all problems, how come Yank atheists are so astonishingly ignorant about the impact of major doctrinal differences in world history?

      1. Claiming that Catholics aren’t Christian is so 1960s of you.

        That aside, I’m not sure it’s unfair to point out what a religion is based on, even if they no longer practice/belief in it. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention is based on religious support for slavery. Sure, they finally repudiated the holiness of slavery relatively recently, but it’s still a defining part of their sect’s history.

  17. “Authority” hasn’t been Christian in the US for half a century. These Satanists are just boring conformists.

  18. The IRS recognizes Taoism or the Tao De Ching. Oh yeah, and non-theist Quakers. Both religion. I guess non theist sounds better than atheist.

  19. Satan=Steve Bannon, as portrayed on SNL!

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