WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) — A satanic club housed in schools in Lebanon City caused enough concern among parents that the district felt compelled to respond Thursday.
A flyer circulating on social media invites students to “The After-School Satan Club” promising “science projects”, “puzzles and games”, “arts and crafts projects” and ” nature activities.
The club is a chapter of The Satanic Temple, a multinational non-profit that markets itself as a “non-theistic religious and human rights group”.
According to the flyer, the club will hold four rallies during the spring semester at Donovan Elementary School. All children in grades 1 to 5 are welcome to attend, regardless of religious background.
Parental permission is required to attend. Superintendent Isaac Seevers says the same goes for all extracurricular activities in the district.
He clarified that the club is not sponsored by the district or Donovan Elementary.
Seevers issued a letter to families on Thursday aimed at addressing “concerns and confusion” about the club.
The district, he wrote, recently approved a facility rental for the group after a resident of Lebanon completed the required application and provided the necessary documentation.
“The district has approved these types of groups in the past, an example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school children’s evangelism program,” Seevers wrote. “The Good News Club has been meeting after school at Donovan Elementary School for years.”
The superintendent clarifies that schools in Lebanon “do not and are not legally permitted to discriminate against groups who wish to rent our facilities, including affiliated religious groups.”
References Seevers Good News Club v Milford Central School, a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court case.
The decision ruled that under the First Amendment’s free speech clause, a religious group – The Good News Club – cannot be denied use of public school facilities after hours when those same facilities are available for other groups promoting similar issues.
Public schools must effectively act blindfolded – that is, without “discriminating in viewpoint” – when granting the use of facilities to clubs for purposes ranging from religious celebration to moral edification through character development.
Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the opinion for the 6-3 majority, which included the entire conservative voting bloc on the court, including Chief Justice William Renquist and Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Either district facilities should be made available to all groups or no groups,” Seevers wrote, paraphrasing the decision.
He later clarified that the district does not approve of the assets or the intention of [The After-School Satan Club] or any other religious group offering extracurricular activities on our campuses. […]The District has no other involvement in this program except for approval of space rental.
Seevers notes that flyers and promotional materials for after-school groups such as The Good News Club and The Satanic Temple After-School Satan Club are not approved for mass distribution and cannot be sent home with students. They may be displayed for display purposes only.
See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Please include the title when you Click here to report it.
Copyright 2022 WXX. All rights reserved.