Faith and Religion

Practitioners of the Satanic Temple Seek Accommodation From the US Navy – Granted Space to Study

satanic-temple
Credit: The Satanic Temple

Students at the U.S. Naval Academy who follow the religion put on by the Satanic Temple, are seeking space to worship. In response, the Navy asked for clarification and declined to offer space for ‘satanic services,’ but granted them a space to study.

On October 8th, 2019, an internal email leaked and said that space would be given for the students to partake on the campus. However, Cmdr. Alana Garas, an academy spokeswoman, was tasked with clarifying the student’s request.

“A group of Midshipmen with beliefs aligned with those practiced by The Satanic Temple…requested space where they could assemble to discuss and share their common beliefs,” Garas said in an email. “The request was for a ‘study group’ space, not for holding’ satanic services.'”

Garas then cautioned the students who follow the “politically active” religion from participating in its political endeavors. “Midshipmen have the right to assemble to discuss their beliefs as they choose, but, to be clear…military members will not engage in partisan political activities, and will avoid the inference that their activities may appear to imply DoD approval or endorsement of a political cause,” she said.

Before the official fired off the “satanic services” email, “arrangements were being made to provide the Midshipmen with a designated place to assemble as chaplains facilitate the beliefs of all service members, a responsibility outlined by Navy instructions,” Garas said.

In response, the Satanic Temple issued a Press Release;

After the US Naval Academy publicly suggested that Satanic services would be barred, The Satanic Temple promises litigation should the religious liberty of their members within the academy be impeded.

The Satanic Temple (TST) has announced its intent to see that Satanic services at the US Naval Academy are given equal treatment afforded to all religious denominations and will initiate legal action if TST is discriminated against. This announcement comes in response to a public statement given by academy spokesperson Alana Garas last week. Garas stated that members of TST, who are actively seeking to organize services at the academy, would be allowed to maintain a “study group,” but not to hold services because TST is “a non-theistic religious and politically active movement.” TST spokesperson Lucien Greaves said, “Neither of these facts about TST disqualifies our members from holding services.”

“The notion that members of The Satanic Temple within the Naval Academy can be denied the right to hold services because we are non-theistic and/or politically active has absolutely no credible basis in law or common sense. The Satanic Temple is no more a political cause than the Catholic Church or Southern Baptists. Superstition, or theism, is not a prerequisite for recognition as a religion and, in fact, The Satanic Temple is officially recognized by the US government as a Church. If the Naval Academy wants to ban Midshipmen of a particular belief from holding services because their Church speaks to social issues of political relevance, they will be obligated to deny the services of Catholics for their Church’s political lobbying against abortion, the services of LDS-affiliated Mormons for their political activism related to gay marriage, and most every Protestant denomination for both.”

In explaining her comments regarding The Satanic Temple, Garas stated, “in accordance with Department of Defense Policy, military members will not engage in partisan political activities, and will avoid the inference that their activities may appear to imply DoD approval or endorsement of a political cause.”

Greaves asserts, “The spokesperson is either deeply confused in differentiating religious services from partisan political activities, or, more likely, attempting to disguise discrimination against a minority religion by insisting that it runs afoul of wildly unrelated standards of conduct. All members of the military, and those within the Naval Academy, have the right to practice their religion, as well as to refuse participation in any and all religious services. For anybody in the Naval Academy to suggest otherwise is an insult to those who serve, and to those who care about our fundamental freedoms.”

The Satanic Temple is promising legal action of sorts because its members were barred the right to hold ‘Satanic Services.’ However, according to the United States Naval Academy, they were given the space to study, but in line with DOD policy they were not given permission to partake in political activities.