10. The Satanic Temple
The Satanic Temple is an organization that probably wouldn’t fit most people’s idea of what a Satanist is. After all, their goals are to “encourage benevolence and empathy” and “embrace practical common sense and justice.” Much like Anton LaVey’s version of Satanism, the Satanic Temple doesn’t actually believe in or worship Satan. They see him as a symbol—a rebellious figure against tyranny and authority.
Regardless of their lack of belief, the Satanic Temple considers itself to be a religion and believes that religion should be based on science and critical thinking rather than supernatural or superstitious claims. To them, Satanism provides them with everything that a religion should provide—a sense of identity, symbolic practices, and a community of those with similar beliefs.
The Satanic Temple has gained notoriety by pushing the boundaries of free speech and having a go at fundamentalist Christians. The group is most famous for trying to erect a statue of Baphomet in Detroit because the city had approved a statue of the Ten Commandments. The logic was that if Christians were allowed to publicly profess their religion, then they should, as well.
After the Hobby Lobby decision, which allows religious organizations to opt out of providing birth control, the Satanic Temple decided to use their own status as a religion to challenge US laws. They claimed that “informed consent” laws, which require doctors to share state-approved information to a woman before she has an abortion, violate their religious beliefs because some of the shared information has been deemed unscientific by the members.
The Satanic Temple also held a “Pink Mass” in 2013 at the grave site of Fred Phelps’s mother. Phelps is the head of the Westboro Baptist Church, an extremist Christian group that is notorious for their opposition to homosexuality. The Pink Mass involved gay couples kissing in order to make Phelps’s mother “gay in the afterlife.”