DeSantis Religious Bill Compels Satanists to Protest in Schools

By: David Donovan | Published: Jul 09, 2024

As a result of the hard-right governor Ron DeSantis’s push for more religion in education, dark satanic messengers could soon be roaming public schools in Florida.

A state law that went into effect this week makes it possible for campuses to receive “additional counseling and support for students” from outside organizations. According to members of the Satanic Temple, they are poised to serve as volunteer chaplains.

Restoring Religion

DeSantis has made it clear that his intention is to restore the tenets of Christianity to public education, despite the fact that HB 931 only requires schools to list the religion of a volunteer “if any” and leaves the implementation of chaplain programs up to individual school districts.

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The Cabinet of the Florida government consists of Governor Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

Government of Florida

DeSantis stated at its April signing without the bill: “You’re basically saying that God has no place [on campus]. That’s wrong.”

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Push into Education

The satanists see the law as an equal opportunity amid a national religious right-wing theocratic push into education: Christian chaplains are treated as such if they are given access to students, who are frequently in the most vulnerable and impressionable stages of their lives.

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The headquarters of the Satanic Temple in Salem, MA 2023-02-23. It also functions as the Salem Art Gallery.

Wikimedia Commons user Crisco 1492

However, there are no plans to include studies of satanic rituals or the dark arts in any classroom. 

Satanic Intentions

The Satanic Temple promotes Satan as a symbol of rebellion and opposition to authoritarianism rather than as a literal, all-powerful demon. It says its intention here is to highlight glaring infringement of the constitutionally safeguarded division of church and state.

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Lucien Greaves with David Courier in front of a photo call for Sundance festival

Facebook user Sundance Film Festival

“You have theocrats pushing further and further, signing unconstitutional bills into law, and they realize there’s no consequence,” according to Lucien Greaves, who is a co-founder of the Satanic Temple.

Greaves Position

Greaves went on to state: “And they also realize that when people see these laws passed, and the outrage comes, they’re not even necessarily going to recognize or realize when those laws are later overturned by the courts.”

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Lucien Greaves speaking at a podium wearing a black shirt and waistcoat

Wikimedia Commons user Mark Schierbecker

He continued: “They’re giving everybody the impression that these types of things are legal, this is just the environment we’re living in. And in that way they’re really numbing people to when these things actually do take effect, or when they are upheld by a corrupt judge who’s just playing partisan politics.”

Preemptive Measures

Greaves stated that members of his organization are prepared to volunteer in the event that charter school governing bodies or school districts in any of Florida’s 67 counties announce that they will enroll in DeSantis’ chaplain program. 

Ron DeSantis at a pro-law enforcement rally in Staten Island speaking at a podium with an American flag behind him

X user RonDeSantis

None have so far, although the law has only been in place for a week and campuses are on summer break.

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Past Successes

The strategy has worked in the past. Temple members gathered to show their support when DeSantis’ predecessor, Rick Scott, signed a law in 2013 that encouraged prayer sessions and religious freedom in schools. 

Florida Veterans Award Ceremony Governor Rick Scott at a podium

State of Florida

At the time, nearly ninety percent of people polled by the Guardian believed that satanists had the same rights to worship in Florida schools as people of other mainstream religions. However, school districts may have backed out of the idea because they didn’t want to be seen as supporting it.

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Controversial Installations

Later that year, the temple announced the installation of a 7-foot-tall bronze sculpture of the pagan idol Baphomet at the Oklahoma state capitol. 

Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City outside during the day

Wikimedia Commons user Caleb Long

This was commissioned alongside a recently erected statue of the Ten Commandments (the Ten Commandments statue was later removed by order of the state’s supreme court). Baphomet is a human-goat hybrid with angelic wings.

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After School Satan Clubs

The sanctuary spearheaded After School Satan Clubs in states where religious gatherings are allowed to work on campus and, it says, “use threats of eternal damnation to convert school children to their belief system”. 

Students outdoors at a bench reading and writing

Unsplash user Alexis Brown

With “no interest in converting children to satanism,” the program places an emphasis on science, critical thinking, and the creative arts.

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DeSantis Response

In the meantime, DeSantis has stated that he will not permit members of the Satanic Temple to enter schools in Florida.

Ron DeSantis speaking on the radio with a mic in front of him in a studio

X user RonDeSantis

“Some have said that if you do a school chaplain program that, somehow, you’re going to have satanists running around in all our schools. We’re not playing those games in Florida. You don’t have to worry about that,” he stated at the signing.

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Government Recognition

DeSantis said that Satanism “is not a religion” and is therefore “not qualified to be able to participate,” which appeared to contradict a key premise of the bill, despite the fact that the Satanic Temple is recognized as a church by the US government.

Ron DeSantis with his wife sitting on a couch in an office

Government of Florida

According to a statement released by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, “it was advanced with promises that public school chaplain positions would be open to everyone” and that “chaplains would provide spiritual counsel to students who want it, but would not proselytize or coerce students into religious activities.”

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Suing Florida

According to Greaves, the temple was ready to sue the state of Florida if it tried to block its access to schools.

Lucien Greaves posing for a photograph wearing a plaid shirt and jacket

Facebook user Sundance Film Festival

He stated, “When [DeSantis] stood at the podium and told people they were going to put chaplains in schools, but satanists wouldn’t be allowed to, he was straight up lying to the school districts, and opening up them up to a liability that he’s not going to cover.”

“There was nothing written in the law that would exclude us. He can’t just declare something like that by fiat and expect it to be treated as law, and if he doesn’t understand that, which likely he really doesn’t, he obviously has no place being a governor.”

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