A new documentary Hail Satan? released in UK on the 23rd of September this year. The documentary explores the Satanic Temple in the United States, that vows to fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ people. According to the co-founder, Lucien Greaves, nearly half of the Satanists identify themselves as LGBTQ+.
A little about the Satanic Temple
What started as an act of prankster activism in 2013, became the foundation for one of America’s fastest-growing religions. The Temple is an institution that neither praises gods nor devils. They instead prefer spending their time behind civic duties such as picking up litter etc. The Satanic Temple has built its foundation on seven ‘nice’ and ‘sensible’ humanistic principles, as described by the Irish Times. “The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend”, is one such principle.
Penny Lane’s latest documentary ‘Hail Satan?’, captures the growth of the Temple, from a small group of “outsiders and LGBTQ activists”, to an international movement and a religion of its own.
The Temple welcomes those who feel ‘disowned’
The Satanic Temple is all about inclusivity, playing an active role in pride parades and contributing to the LGBTQ community. Greaves was, in fact, surprised by the Temple’s queerness. Furthermore, today the temple has become a haven for queer people. And, a platform for celebrating the identities of the LGBTQ members. The Satanic Temple is a movement that provides a “safe space” that is “radically inclusive” for individuals who identify themselves in “all sorts of ways”.
In an interview with Attitude, Greaves shares that more than 50 % of the temple members are from the LGBTQ+ community. According to him,
“I think that’s because they feel disowned and disenfranchised from the traditional religious institutions. [He continued] So, you have a population willing to embrace a religious identification that is boldly willing to speak out to the contrary.”
-As reported by Pink News
According to the Co-founder, Satanists are not differentiated because of their sexual orientation.
“We’re all Satanists and it’s not like we have ‘tolerance’ for trans people or gay people or sex workers, we just don’t… care, and a lot of people in those communities appreciate that.”
– As reported by Attitude Magazine
Greaves vouches for the Satanic Temple, saying that the temple vows to protect and fight for the LGBTQ and their rights. He shared that before gay marriages were made legal by the Supreme Court in the USA, the temple had plans to test “rights vs religious liberty” in states where equal marriage was refused. The plan was to conduct a gay satanic wedding in one of the states. If the state refused, then the Temple would sue on grounds that their religious liberty has to be recognised. The temple couldn’t execute this idea. However, it is an example of how the temple will fight to support the LGBTQ community. He added, “We will always fight… to the death to ensure that there are equal rights for the gay community.”, As reported by Attitude Magazine.
Other activities are undertaken by the Temple:
With about 60 chapters around the world, many of them being online, the Temple has gained attention for its numerous campaigns. Followers of the Satanic Temple believe in Civic duties. In Florida, they have collected Socks for the Homeless. In another chapter, they have donated tampons to women’s shelter. A big part of Greaves’s activism focuses on the separation of the church and the state. For example, the temple fought for reproductive rights in Detroit. They ran campaigns to install a statue of a gender-fluid deity in Oklahoma State Capitol building near a Ten Commandments monument. Finally, they even trolled the founder of Westboro Baptist Church by holding the Temple’s first “Pink Mass”. As part of the mass, same-sex couples were asked to kiss over the founder’s dead mother’s grave.
Satan in the Satanic Temple
In the documentary, ‘Hail Satan?’, the question mark is to denote that the followers of this temple do not worship the devil. The Satanic Temple is unrelated to the Church of Satan. The latter are seen as followers of Satanism while the Temple just promotes its humanistic principles of benevolence and empathy. The name of the group is a clever marketing strategy that seeks to deliver a shock value as rightly identified by the Guardian. Furthermore, Penny Lane, director of the documentary told dazed in an interview that the temple’s name,
“…. was a satirical prank and that they weren’t really Satanists.”
The group’s website clarifies that its members neither believes in the existence of Satan nor the supernatural. The website explains,
“As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions.”
Members of the group are called Satanists and are expected to develop critical thinking and exercise “reasonable agnosticism in all things”.
Source Credit: Attitude Magazine, Irish Times, Pink News, The Guardian, Vice