Small protest gathers outside Illinois elementary school hosting ‘after-school Satan club’
Small protest gathers outside Illinois elementary school after ‘Satan club’ fliers spark parents’ fury – but district says it would be ‘illegal’ to discriminate against group since religious organizations also rent space
About six people gathered outside Jane Addams Elementary in Moline, Illinois
The school hosted the first meeting of an ‘after-school Satan Club’ on Thursday
The club promotes ‘benevolence and empathy and critical thinking’ and is led by the Satanic Temple, which says it does not believe in Satan
The school district said it could not discriminate against the club – which paid to rent the space – because it also hosts other religious groups
A half-dozen protesters led by a pastor stood outside an Illinois elementary school Thursday as it held its first ‘after-school Satan club’ meeting, with the district saying the club is allowed to meet because they can’t discriminate against ‘different viewpoints.’
Fliers for the club appeared this week at Jane Addams Elementary School in Moline, Illinois, a small city along the Mississippi River.
They read: ‘Hey Kids, let’s have fun at our After School Satan Club! Science Projects! Puzzles & Games! Arts and Craft Projects! Nature Activities!’
The fliers also noted that five dates were already scheduled, with the first meeting held Thursday afternoon from 2.45 to 3.45pm.
A copy was posted online by a parent and quickly spread across social media, angering some.
The district says that a parent reached out to the ‘national after-school satan club’ to have them bring the program to the school, and that the club is not connected to any teacher or school employee.
A small group led by a pastor protested outside Jane Addams Elementary School in Moline, Illinois on Thursday as the school hosted the first meeting of an ‘after-school Satan club’
Fliers for the Satan club started appearing this week and were posted online by a parent on Monday. The club already scheduled five meeting dates, starting Thursday
The district says a parent reached out to the Satanic Temple to host the club, and that the district can’t discriminate against anyone willing to pay to rent space for after-school meetings
‘To illegally deny their organization (viewpoint) to pay to rent our publicly funded institution, after school hours, subjects the district to a discrimination lawsuit, which we will not win, likely taking thousands upon thousands of tax-payer dollars away from our teachers, staff, and classrooms,’ said Moline-Coal Valley Schools Superintendent Rachel Savage in a message posted to the district’s website Wednesday.
On Thursday, Moline police had a cruiser and a community service officer on the scene when school got out, according to OurQuadCities.com.
The pastor leading the small protest said he and his group plan to protest as long as the club continues to meet.
One man stood outside with a large wooden cross reading, ‘Stop and Talk.’
The Satan club’s flier says it promotes ‘benevolence and empathy, critical thinking, problem solving, creative expression and personal sovereignty.’
In a FAQ section on its website, the Satanic Temple says it does not ‘believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural.’
‘The Satanic Temple believes that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions.’
The Satanic Temple is the national parent organization for the club. It says it doesn’t believe in Satan and only promotes ‘intellectual and emotional development’
The club’s flier says it promotes ‘benevolence and empathy, critical thinking, problem solving, creative expression and personal sovereignty.’ Above, a tweet from the Satanic Temple
Jane Addams Elementary also hosts a child evangelism fellowship club
That hasn’t stopped parents and others on social media from fuming about the club hosting meetings at the school.
Parent Necia Cole posted a photo of the flier on Facebook on Monday, according to KTVI.
One person responded: ‘Wait what????? How is this even a thing? Who approved this? I just know they’re about to catch hell because I would be going tf off.’
Cole replied: ‘I will add that the flyer was only allowed due to the rules and regulations that the school has to allow it. My kids attend a pretty good school. I may also add that no teacher physically passed out the flyers.’
Superintendent Rachel Savage addressed the controversy on Wednesday, citing ‘many mounting concerns and questions.’
She stressed that the club meeting doesn’t impact the school day and does not involve any district teacher.
‘A parent from within our district reached out to the national after-school satan club, informing them that Jane Addams Elementary School, in Moline, offers a child evangelism fellowship club and asked that they bring their program to that school as well, to offer parents a choice of different viewpoints,’ Savage wrote.
The Board of Education allows the community to use and rent the district’s facilities, she added.
‘Since we have allowed religious entities to rent our facilities after school hours, we are not permitted to discriminate against different religious viewpoints,’ Savage said.
She emphasized that only 30 fliers were sent to the school and that they were not distributed to students, but simply placed on a table in the lobby where they could pick one up.