Religious Freedom

"Volunteer Chaplains" Ready for Florida Schools, Sparking Controversy and Legal Battles

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Satanic Temple Ready to Serve as Volunteer Chaplains in Florida Schools

The Satanic Temple (TST) has announced its intention to participate in Florida's new volunteer school chaplain program, which allows religious organizations to provide support services and programs to students. This announcement comes in response to Governor Ron DeSantis's push to integrate more religion into the state's public school system.

TST co-founder and spokesperson Lucien Greaves stated that the organization is prepared to send "volunteer chaplains" to schools that choose to implement the program. He emphasized that TST is a recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt church and that denying them the opportunity to participate would be a violation of their religious freedom.

DeSantis has previously stated that Satanists would not be allowed to participate in the program, claiming that Satanism is not a religion. However, Greaves challenged this assertion, pointing to the organization's federal recognition as a church and the potential legal repercussions for schools that attempt to discriminate against TST.

The new law requires schools to inform parents about the services offered by volunteer chaplains and to publish a list of chaplains on their websites. Additionally, volunteer chaplains must undergo background screenings and obtain written parental consent before students can participate in their programs.

While the law leaves it up to individual schools and districts to determine how the chaplain program is implemented, DeSantis has stated that the goal is to incorporate Christian values into public education. Critics of the law argue that it violates the separation of church and state, and TST has threatened legal action if any of its members are barred from serving as chaplains.

Despite its name, TST does not believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural. The organization describes itself as non-theistic and promotes critical thinking and scientific understanding. TST has also established "After School Satan Clubs" at schools across the country, which offer self-directed learning activities and games.

The organization's participation in the Florida school chaplain program is likely to spark controversy, with some parents and community members expressing concerns about the potential influence of Satanism on their children. However, TST maintains that its goal is to provide students with a safe and inclusive environment where they can explore different perspectives and develop their own beliefs.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09