The Satanic Temple was designated a “tax-exempt church” by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in April, meaning the Satan-worshipping organization is now officially recognized as a religion by the US government.
The Satanic Temple announced it recently received notice from the IRS regarding its new tax status, meaning the organization has the same rights and privileges as major Christian churches.
The Satanic organization says the designation will help in its legal battles against “religious discrimination”, allow it to pursue “faith-based government grants” and guarantee the same access to public spaces as “other religious organizations”.
The Satanic Temple says it’s a “non-theistic” group, according to spokesman Lucien Greaves, and members do not believe Satan actually exists.
“We don’t subscribe to supernatural explanations or accept them as legitimate,” Greaves said.
He explains that while members of the Satanic Temple see the mythological, and literary, figure of Satan as a symbol of rebellion against tyranny, they do not worship Satan in any way.
“This idea of worship, it’s usually kind of insulting to people who identify with Satanism, because that implies a sense of servility. Satanism is about personal sovereignty and independence and freedom of will,” he said.
BusinessInsider report: The group temporarily placed a statue of the goat-headed creature Baphomet at the Arkansas State Capitol last year after a Ten Commandments monument was installed. It also sued Scottsdale, Arizona after members weren’t allowed to deliver a Satanic prayer as the invocation at a City Council meeting.
Thanks in part to the IRS decision and the new documentary, the Satanic Temple is entering a phase of rapid growth. It’s got something like 20 chapters across the US, and affiliate groups in Canada, Australia, Germany, and the UK, with more seeking approval from the Satanic Temple.
Co-founder Lucien Greaves also gives credit for this to some of his biggest critics.
“In a way, the Satanic Temple has enjoyed such expansive, explosive growth because of the rise of the theocratic right in the United States,” he said. “Our expansive membership numbers are a response to the Trump administration and Pence being vice president. People are horrified.”
The core beliefs of the Satanic Temple are laid out in its so-called seven tenets. They mention personal freedom, including the freedom to offend, the pursuit of justice, and the value of scientific understanding. Tenet No. 1 reads, “Strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.”
Greaves says the group is serious about nonviolence. Maintaining ideological consistency could be a challenge the organization faces right now as it grows quickly.
“We’re to the point now where we’re already big enough and our message has resonated with people strongly enough that we’ve developed schisms, and people disagree with some of our tactics with how we approach injustice and other types of activism.”