Something devilish may be coming to Nehalem Elementary School this school year.
By Jordan Wolfe
“The Satanic Temple – Portland has proposed to establish an after-school club,” read a letter from Paul Erlebach, Neah-Kah-Nie School District superintendent. He added in an interview, “The district has to be neutral with anything dealing with religious issues with schools.”
‘After School Satan’ is structured as a monthly after-school club where students, with parental permission, participate in a literature lesson, creative learning activities, science lesson, puzzle solving and art project, while being provided a healthy snack, according to a proposal submitted by Finn Rezz, chapter head for The Satanic Temple (TST), Portland, OR chapter.
“We have been looking forward to this for a little while,” Rezz said. “We are Satanists. We are non-theistic, so we don’t believe in an actual Satan or actual God, but we have core beliefs and values.”
He added the usage of ‘Satan’ is allegory for free-thinking and acts as their metaphor to challenge other programs, namely, the Good News Club. Nehalem Elementary is the first school TST has reached out to for an After School Satan Club because students have access to a Good News Club.
An interdenominational Christian program for students ages five to 12, the Good News Club often utilizes public elementary schools for Bible study and other activities, after a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that allows groups such as the Good News Club to be entitled the same access to public school facilities as other groups such as the Boy Scouts.
“Obviously, that’s what it is coming from,” Erlebach said.
The Good News Club meets from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., Thursdays at NCRD and allows students with parental permission to be released during the school day to participate in the club.
“The Neah-Kah-Nie School District recognizes that questions of religious belief and discussion of religious organizations can create strong feelings and it is important to note that our district does not promote any particular religion,” Erlebach’s letter reads.
In fact, the school district policy explicitly states just that.
“We can’t discriminate against groups who want to use our facilities,” Erlebach said. “My response is this: We’re just following Supreme Court ruling.”
If the After School Satan Club joins Nehalem Elementary School, the TST has requested leaders of the club to have a table or booth at “Back to School Night” events.
Rezz said, “Our ultimate goal is to have ‘After School Satan’ offered at every school district where ‘The Good News Club’ is offered.” He added TST has a number of initiatives to shed light on church and state separation issues.
The curriculum for the program has been a work-in-progress for some time and Rezz said his is very excited about it, with an emphasis on science and rational thinking.
“We’re really encouraging people to look into the program,” he said. “To be a pluralistic, democratic society, it is important for all opinions and views to be heard.”
Rezz’s letter also reads, “After School Satan Clubs are led by caring Satanists.”
As of this writing, Superintendent Paul Erlebach had not yet contacted TST about their request. For more information, contact Kristi Woika, Nehalem Elementary School principal at 503-355-3640, email@example.com, or Erlebach at 503-355-3501, firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the proposed After School Satan Club, visit afterschoolsatan.com.