By bending to the threat of lawsuits and allowing atheists, along with Christians, to distribute materials in Orlando, Florida-area public schools, the door may have been opened to allow a Satanist group to do the same thing.
The Satanic Temple of New York is planning to hand out "educational religious" materials to public school children, according to several published reports on Tuesday.
The materials, which include a coloring and activity booklet for children titled, "The Satanic Children's Big Book of Activities," will be distributed in the coming months. But the Satanist group insists it is not actually aimed at recruiting kids to Satanism through the schools, according to a report on issuehawk.com.
The district in central Florida's Orange County has not received a formal request from the temple, but school officials say they reserve the right to review all materials, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The Orange County School Board ruled that Christian groups may distribute Bibles and other religious materials in their public schools. In response, an atheist group called the Central Florida Free Thought Community decided to leave its own fliers for the kids. The brochures, with titles such as "Jesus is Dead" and "Why I am Not a Muslim," were quickly banned.
But after the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and its local affiliate group, the Free Thought Community, filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination, the School Board backed down and said it would allow materials from all groups, including atheists, at its high schools.
The Satanic Temple, a relatively new group that supports social justice causes and believes Satan is the "eternal rebel against the ultimate tyrant," according to the Orlando Sentinel, wants to give out materials that include information for students on protecting themselves from corporal punishment at school.
Like the Free Thought Community, the Satanist group is making a statement that public schools should not be a forum for religious recruitment at all, the report on issuehawk.com said.
"We don't argue the merits of any one voice in a school environment," Satanic Temple co-founder and spokesman Lucien Greaves told Broward/Palm Beach New Times for an online report. "We think it's in the best interests for everyone, especially the kids, that the district not to have religious materials of any kind distributed in schools."
But, like anything involving the Satanic Temple, blowback is expected.
"If people are offended," Greaves told New Times, "I hope they realize they need to not take it up with us, but with the School Board, who allowed this to happen in the first place."
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