Satanic Temple challenges 18 states' abortion laws with religious exemption claim

Whateverman

Well-known member
I'm posting this here for several reasons, the primary being that atheism is portrayed as synonymous with satanism, but also because - if successful - this will have been a victory for religious freedom:


The Satanic Temple, a national religious rights organization with chapters in 21 states, has recently erected two billboards in Texas and Florida encouraging followers to challenge state restrictions on abortions conducted during the first trimester by claiming that the restrictions violate their religious beliefs as Satanists. Over 18 states have such restrictions.

The group, which claims not to believe "in the existence of Satan or the supernatural" and regularly advocates for all beliefs and non-beliefs to be treated equally under the law, has also released a "religious abortion ritual video." The video explains the laws behind abortion rights and religious beliefs. It also instructs viewers on how to conduct a home abortion ceremony that "provides spiritual comfort and affirms bodily autonomy and self-worth."

"Abortions Save Lives!" The group's billboard outside of Houston, Texas reads. "Pregnancy complications are the sixth most common cause of death among women between the ages of 20 and 34. Our Religious Abortion Ritual Averts Many State Restrictions." The billboard then lists the group's web address.

This push for lawsuits has been in the works for a while now, with smaller efforts already having been made outside of FL and TX. Christians claim to value religious freedom, but I'll bet they never bargained for it coming back to haunt them (or at lest the fundamentalists in their midst)...
 

Gus Bovona

Active member
Gotta love the Satanic Temple, especially when people get all upset thinking TST worships Satan, but they don’t.

There is a great documentary on TST, Hail Satan? One of my favorite parts is when one of them says (roughly), “Yeah, before Bob joined us he was doing really poorly, had no goals in life, was masturbating every day, but now that he’s a member, he’s masturbating three times a day and really enjoying life.”
 

Komodo

Active member
I'm posting this here for several reasons, the primary being that atheism is portrayed as synonymous with satanism, but also because - if successful - this will have been a victory for religious freedom:




This push for lawsuits has been in the works for a while now, with smaller efforts already having been made outside of FL and TX. Christians claim to value religious freedom, but I'll bet they never bargained for it coming back to haunt them (or at lest the fundamentalists in their midst)...
Basically because the Bill of Rights speaks of "freedom of religion" rather than "freedom of belief," beliefs based on religion have often been accorded protections in the U.S. which are not available to purely individual beliefs. If you are an atheist who thinks same-sex marriage is wrong (and there are atheists who believe that), and you refuse to obey state laws which prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, you're generally not going to get a hearing; whereas those who refuse on the grounds of church teaching will sometimes prevail in court on the grounds of religious freedom.* If one tried to explain this distinction to a Martian, zie would probably be puzzled at first. "You mean, you get extra rights because you don't think for yourself, you just accept what somebody told you?"

Of course there are historical and practical reasons for this difference, having to do with the desire to preserve civil peace. But the upshot here is that the Satanic Temple has to convince judges, "we are a real religion, not just people who like to thumb their noses at fundamentalist Christianity." And frankly that's a hard sell, because at least AFAICT, the Satanic Temple mostly acts as the performance art branch of the ACLU. And I applaud them for that, but as your article says, they're a "religious-rights organization" which "doesn't believe in the supernatural," and that's not what most people think of as "religion."

* This is changing to some extent. Conscientious Objectors used to be turned down automatically unless they could say they were a member of a denomination, like the Quakers, which taught pacifism. In more recent years, some have been accepted if they could just show a firm and consistent longstanding belief.
 
Last edited:

Whateverman

Well-known member
Basically because the Bill of Rights speaks of "freedom of religion" rather than "freedom of belief," beliefs based on religion have often been accorded protections in the U.S. which are not available to purely individual beliefs. If you are an atheist who thinks same-sex marriage is wrong (and there are atheists who believe that), and you refuse to obey state laws which prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, you're generally not going to get a hearing; whereas those who refuse on the grounds of church teaching will sometimes prevail in court on the grounds of religious freedom.* If one tried to explain this distinction to a Martian, zie would probably be puzzled at first. "You mean, you get extra rights because you don't think for yourself, you just accept what somebody told you?"

Of course there are historical and practical reasons for this difference, having to do with the desire to preserve civil peace. But the upshot here is that the Satanic Temple has to convince judges, "we are a real religion, not just people who like to thumb their noses at fundamentalist Christianity." And frankly that's a hard sell, because at least AFAICT, the Satanic Temple mostly acts as the performance art branch of the ACLU. And I applaud them for that, but as your article says, they're a "religious-rights organization" which "doesn't believe in the supernatural," and that's not what most people think of as "religion."

Well, that latter bit may be true, but there are some pretty "unsupernatural" religions out there: scientology, various fringe cults, aspects of Buddhism, etc.

I wont argue that the Satanic Church's case is an easy one, but I'm not sure it's all that uphill, either.
 

docphin5

Active member
I'm posting this here for several reasons, the primary being that atheism is portrayed as synonymous with satanism, but also because - if successful - this will have been a victory for religious freedom:




This push for lawsuits has been in the works for a while now, with smaller efforts already having been made outside of FL and TX. Christians claim to value religious freedom, but I'll bet they never bargained for it coming back to haunt them (or at lest the fundamentalists in their midst)...
I doubt any court in this country would validate having an abortion as part of some religious rite.

I am not a constitutional lawyer but I am guessing that they would have to demonstrate this particular ”ritual abortion” as necessary to their belief. IOW it isn’t going to happen.
 

Whateverman

Well-known member
I doubt any court in this country would validate having an abortion as part of some religious rite.

I am not a constitutional lawyer but I am guessing that they would have to demonstrate this particular ”ritual abortion” as necessary to their belief. IOW it isn’t going to happen.
You're probably right, but the 12-year-old in me enjoys seeing the establishment get a thumb stuck in their eye...
 

Gus Bovona

Active member
I doubt any court in this country would validate having an abortion as part of some religious rite.

I am not a constitutional lawyer but I am guessing that they would have to demonstrate this particular ”ritual abortion” as necessary to their belief. IOW it isn’t going to happen.
#3 of their fundamental tenets is body autonomy.
 

docphin5

Active member
#3 of their fundamental tenets is body autonomy.
Anyone can write a religious doctrine. For example, someone could start a religion tomorrow whose central tenet is to consume drugs as part of their religious expression but I presume it is going to take more than that to justify breaking a law. Either that or they can move to Oregon. ha ha!
 

Whateverman

Well-known member
Anyone can write a religious doctrine. For example, someone could start a religion tomorrow whose central tenet is to consume drugs as part of their religious expression but I presume it is going to take more than that to justify breaking a law. Either that or they can move to Oregon. ha ha!
On a serious note, you know that native americans are allowed to consume hallucinogens, right?

It's obviously a lot more complicated/specific than that - but in effect they can do what you sorta laughed off...

ps. yes, I know you meant it tongue-in-cheek. Still, there's legal precedent for it.
 

Gus Bovona

Active member
Anyone can write a religious doctrine. For example, someone could start a religion tomorrow whose central tenet is to consume drugs as part of their religious expression but I presume it is going to take more than that to justify breaking a law. Either that or they can move to Oregon. ha ha!
Isn't that what all religions do, though? Someone writes a religious doctrine. That's how any scripture comes to be, someone has to write it. Now, as to whether it is inspired by some deity, how are the courts going to adjudicate that one? You have to accept it because you can't rule that one religion really came from god, but another one didn't.

Furthermore, some courts have held that being secular should be considered a "religion" legally in those arenas in which secularism is an option along with all religions; for instance,

A federal district court in Oregon has ruled in favor of an atheist inmate who filed suit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons in April for rejecting his requests to form a humanist study group on grounds that humanism was not listed as a religious affiliation under existing prison classifications. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/atheist-religion-oregon-court_n_6095776
While it hasn't happened yet, there's a case to be made that the military should have secular humanist chaplains.

While religions as religions need a supernatural or deity component, in legal terms, maybe not.
 

docphin5

Active member
Isn't that what all religions do, though? Someone writes a religious doctrine. That's how any scripture comes to be, someone has to write it. Now, as to whether it is inspired by some deity, how are the courts going to adjudicate that one? You have to accept it because you can't rule that one religion really came from god, but another one didn't.

Furthermore, some courts have held that being secular should be considered a "religion" legally in those arenas in which secularism is an option along with all religions; for instance,


While it hasn't happened yet, there's a case to be made that the military should have secular humanist chaplains.

While religions as religions need a supernatural or deity component, in legal terms, maybe not.
Religion is more than just making doctrines. It is supposed to promote Good for the benefit of fellow humans with the presumption of an objective morality or standard. That would preclude religious claims designed to subvert the law, eg., Satanists, or Polygamists or Ritualistic drug use. Theoretically, the laws are meant to protect religions that promote Good and not create a loophole for anyone to promote harmful behaviors Under the guise of religion. I would have no problem shutting down/banning a religion advocating violence.
 
Last edited:

Gus Bovona

Active member
Religion is more than just making doctrines. It is supposed to promote Good for the benefit of fellow humans with the presumption of an objective morality or standard. That would preclude religious claims designed to subvert the law, eg., Satanists, or Polygamists or Ritualistic drug use. Theoretically, the laws are meant to protect religions that promote Good and not create a loophole for anyone to promote harmful behaviors Under the guise of religion. I would have no problem shutting down/banning a religion advocating violence.
Why is the good an essential part of any religion? A religion with an evil god is still a religion.

There is no necessary presumption of an objective morality in a religion. A religion with a capricious god is still a religion.

The Satanic Temple (who are not satanists, by the way) are not trying to subvert the law. They are working within the law to change it.

You would ban a religion advocating violence? Assuming its not an imminent threat, that is perfectly legal in the U.S. Freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, you know.
 

docphin5

Active member
Why is the good an essential part of any religion? A religion with an evil god is still a religion.
Yeah, but it is self defeating. The more that follow the evil commands of an evil God is inversely proportional to the success of that community. Religion must promote good or it will be is its own undoing.

There is no necessary presumption of an objective morality in a religion. A religion with a capricious god is still a religion.
The objective morality of a good religion is “God”. I dont worry much about religions promoting an evil God because they are self-defeating (see above).
The Satanic Temple (who are not satanists, by the way) are not trying to subvert the law. They are working within the law to change it.
Per the OP, they are trying to subvert a law by abusing a loophole intended to protect religious freedom. In this case, they would have the killing of an unborn baby become a religious ritual akin to human sacrifice. Not surprising coming from a group under the name, “Satanic Temple”. Please don’t insult my intelligence by pretending it has a legitimate purpose, that is, the ritualized killing of the unborn. Even if they are doing this only to thumb their noses at religion, it is disgusting. sorry to see you defend it.
You would ban a religion advocating violence?

Absolutely. No doubt.
Assuming its not an imminent threat, that is perfectly legal in the U.S. Freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, you know.
Then ban those advocating an imminent threat and closely scrutinize, publicly shame those dancing on the edges. I have no problem with this.
 
Last edited:

Gus Bovona

Active member
Yeah, but it is self defeating. The more that follow the evil commands of an evil God is inversely proportional to the success of that community. Religion must promote good or it will be is its own undoing.
Not at all, your jumping to conclusions. An evil god doesn't need to do evil all the time. In fact, it would make the evil all the more deliciously evil if good things happen, too, so people know how much better things could have been when something evil happens. So an evil god might well create a universe with good and evil things in it. Kinda like how people who believe in a good god still can explain this universe that has good and evil things in it. The religions would follow suit in either case.
Per the OP, they are trying to subvert a law by abusing a loophole intended to protect religious freedom. In this case, they would have the killing of an unborn baby become a religious ritual akin to human sacrifice. Not surprising coming from a group under the name, “Satanic Temple”. Please don’t insult my intelligence by pretending it has a legitimate purpose, that is, the ritualized killing of the unborn. Even if they are doing this only to thumb their noses at religion, it is disgusting. sorry to see you defend it.
I'm not defending it, I'm only saying that it is part of their religion. Also, I don't see an argument in the above paragraph.

Absolutely. No doubt.

Then ban those advocating an imminent threat and closely scrutinize, publicly shame those dancing on the edges. I have no problem with this.
The two lines directly above contradict themselves.

You are welcome to publicly shame any religion you wish (and I presume you grant the right to other to publicly shame your religion, too), but I hope you acknowledge that, in the U.S., we have freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, and the government may not tell us what to think or what not think.
 

docphin5

Active member
Not at all, your jumping to conclusions. An evil god doesn't need to do evil all the time. In fact, it would make the evil all the more deliciously evil if good things happen, too, so people know how much better things could have been when something evil happens. So an evil god might well create a universe with good and evil things in it. Kinda like how people who believe in a good god still can explain this universe that has good and evil things in it. The religions would follow suit in either case.

I'm not defending it, I'm only saying that it is part of their religion. Also, I don't see an argument in the above paragraph.


The two lines directly above contradict themselves.

You are welcome to publicly shame any religion you wish (and I presume you grant the right to other to publicly shame your religion, too),
Any religion that ritualizes abortion should be shamed. Where is the a-theist spirit which calls the ritual death of a (mythical) human, namely, Jesus, as an evil doctrine? All of a sudden the a-theist is silent when Satan’s club wants to ritually kill actual, real unborn babies. Is it a hoot watching unborn babies become a ritual sacrifice for one religion in order to make a point against all religion? Has hate for religion so filled the hearts of a-theists that they will defend the ritual killing of the unborn just to make a point? Many of you on this forum are better than that, I know that. Just don’t allow rhetoric to cloud reason.

To your other point, if anyone wants to shame a religion for advocating loving your neighbor, have at it. Pretty soon people will realize the absurdity of such a position. Which is why true religion is one that promotes the good.

but I hope you acknowledge that, in the U.S., we have freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, and the government may not tell us what to think or what not think.
Freedom of thought does not (should not) allow expression that incites violence against others.
 
Last edited:

Gus Bovona

Active member
Any religion that ritualizes abortion should be shamed. Where is the a-theist spirit which calls the ritual death of a (mythical) human, namely, Jesus, as an evil doctrine? All of a sudden the a-theist is silent when Satan’s club wants to ritually kill actual, real unborn babies. Is it a hoot watching unborn babies become a ritual sacrifice for one religion in order to make a point against all religion? Has hate for religion so filled the hearts of a-theists that they will defend the ritual killing of the unborn just to make a point? Many of you on this forum are better than that, I know that. Just don’t allow rhetoric to cloud reason.

To your other point, if anyone wants to shame a religion for advocating loving your neighbor, have at it. Pretty soon people will realize the absurdity of such a position. Which is why true religion is one that promotes the good.


Freedom of thought does not (should not) allow expression that incites violence against others.
So you've wound up missing what we were originally talking about without either acknowledging my points or trying to rebut them.

You asserted that an evil religion would be self-defeating, but when I pointed out you were jumping to conclusions, you merely responded with shaming that religion. You could have at least acknowledged that an evil or capricious religion is not self-defeating.

Now, by focusing on the evil of abortion, you're reducing our conversation about whether the Satanic Temple is a religion, and whether a religion with evil is actually a religion, to merely a discussion about whether abortion is evil or not.

Lastly, you're missing a key distinction that the law in the U.S. has recognized for a long time. One cannot incite **immediate** violence. There are plenty of difficult cases we can imagine, but an easy one is, you can't say, "Let's go right now and string up the Mayor!" But you can take the political position that someone should be arrested for treason and thus executed.

The Supreme Court ruling said, "“Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” From here.
 

docphin5

Active member
So you've wound up missing what we were originally talking about without either acknowledging my points or trying to rebut them.

You asserted that an evil religion would be self-defeating, but when I pointed out you were jumping to conclusions, you merely responded with shaming that religion. You could have at least acknowledged that an evil or capricious religion is not self-defeating.

Now, by focusing on the evil of abortion, you're reducing our conversation about whether the Satanic Temple is a religion, and whether a religion with evil is actually a religion, to merely a discussion about whether abortion is evil or not.

Lastly, you're missing a key distinction that the law in the U.S. has recognized for a long time. One cannot incite **immediate** violence. There are plenty of difficult cases we can imagine, but an easy one is, you can't say, "Let's go right now and string up the Mayor!" But you can take the political position that someone should be arrested for treason and thus executed.

The Supreme Court ruling said, "“Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” From here.
The more important point question is why anyone would defend a religion (whether it be Satan Temple or whatever) to ritually kill unborn children. If a-theists are looking for a reason to dislike religion this should be one. So far no a-theist has condemned it to include you.
 

The Pixie

Active member
The more important point question is why anyone would defend a religion (whether it be Satan Temple or whatever) to ritually kill unborn children. If a-theists are looking for a reason to dislike religion this should be one. So far no a-theist has condemned it to include you.
Is there any reason to think they have actually done any ritualistic killing of unborn children? Or is this like the sacrifice of Isaac; they would do it in principle, but when it comes right down to it, they would stop.
 
Top