By: Pennsylvania Senator Mike Regan
Recently, my home school district, Northern York, where all four of my children have been educated and to which my property taxes are paid, was faced with an outside organization seeking to host a club with a name that has no place in our public schools.
The After School Satan Club claims that it is constitutionally afforded the right to hold meetings on school grounds because of its affiliation with The Satanic Temple, which has tax-exempt status as a religious organization from the IRS. Seeing as The Satanic Temple has filed a lawsuit against the school district, I am not here to interpret the law or constitution on this matter. Instead, I write as a concerned parent, resident, and elected official.
The club can claim not to proselytize or try to convert children to the temple’s religion, but young, impressionable children – whether in elementary or high school, but in this situation, elementary – do not need to be exposed to an organization that has a being in its name that comes with dark and evil connotations. They could have named their club anything, but they did not. One can come to the conclusion that such a choice was intentional in order to cause such community uproar as this latest fiasco has done.
In their materials the club states that “Satan is a literary figure that represents a metaphorical construct of rejecting tyranny over the human mind and spirit”. Tyranny is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “cruel and oppressive government or rule”. Will students be returning to the classroom defying their teachers and administrators or going home and doing the same to their parents?
Further, they hold themselves out as “an alternative to current religious after school clubs…which aim to indoctrinate children into their religious view”.
Sadly, the argument for wanting to bring this club to Northern Elementary is that there is an existing Bible program for students held during school hours. Obviously, separation of church and state prevents a school from sponsoring or hosting such an activity. Students at Northern are attending a religious program led by individuals that are not school employees and that is off-site from school property. It is not the afterschool Good News Club that the temple has gone after at other schools in the country.
Pennsylvania law allows a parent to request their student to be released from school for religious instruction. This is provided for under Section 1546 of the Pennsylvania Public School Code, and this particular provision has been in place since 1982. Parents seeking an alternative to the existing program have just as much right to request their student be excused for religious instruction of their choice.
I fully support every individual’s freedom of religion. I condemn this organization coming after my local school district, wasting taxpayer dollars by filing a frivolous lawsuit, and claiming to not be influencing children about satanic beliefs. I think we all know their true motives.
This country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and while the separation of church and state kicked God out of the classroom, we certainly will not allow Satan in.
Senator Mike Regan represents Pennsylvania’s 31st Senatorial District covering parts of Cumberland and York Counties.
CONTACT: Bruce McLanahan, 717-787-8524