LIBBY EMMONS: Conservative leaders cave to Satanism because Satanism is as self-centered as they are

Elected leaders are having a hard time rejecting Satan. Given that the self is at the center of satanism, it makes sense that our leaders can't fully condemn contemporary satanism, because satanists worship themselves, and so do our leaders.

The Satanic Temple was created and founded with the very purpose of making it hard to reject. When President George W. Bush created a plan for federal funds to go to faith-based community groups, Malcolm Jarry was concerned. He would later meet Lucien Graves and the two would form Satanic Temple, designing it to meet every criterion laid out by the Bush administration.

Their idea was that if the government was going to fund religious groups, it was going to be forced to fund all religious groups, and The Satanic Temple would be first and prominently in line for a hand out.

The Satanic Temple was founded not as a religion but a self-centered protest. Yet, at every step of the way, elected leaders have opened doors, hearts, and wallets to this group that seeks nothing more than the erasure of religion from public life.

What they want most of all is the separation of church and state, and if they can't have that, they will be a church and force the state to accept them. The entire point of The Satanic Temple and the satanism they advocate for is to remove Christianity primarily, and other religions to a lesser extent, from public life.

That was their goal in setting up a satanic altar in the Iowa state capitol building, a stunt which has gained them exactly what they wanted: widespread notoriety and further acceptance. Whenever there is a Christian, religious statement, piece of art, celebration or sentiment, The Satanic Temple aims to disrupt it. They do this not because they are practicing a religion, but to make the point that there should be no religion in public life at all—but that if there is, Satanism will be part of it.

Again and again, elected leaders have taken the bait. They have assumed that because this group has the intentional trappings of religion, designed to be purposefully hard to refute, that makes them religion enough to fall under the protection of the First Amendment. But what if the group is not a religion at all?

The basis of their so-called religion is not to express or practice a faith, but to disrupt the religious practice and faith of others and to make it so difficult to practice that faith outside of one's own home and house of worship that people stop doing so altogether. If a religion is founded for the purpose of destroying the public practice of another religion, is that a faith or a protest?

The Satanic Temple are essentially trolls that use the first amendment as a lever to gain access to schools, government spaces, libraries, and has made a mess of the Iowa state capitol. They set up an altar with a mirrored head of Baphomet, a pentagram wreath, a bunch of candles, and the seven tenets of their "religion." The mirrored head reflects back the image of the viewer encouraging adoration of the self.

They did it because they could, because other groups had put up displays and the Satanists wanted to proselytize too. Even so, they've managed to convince everyone that they don't really worship evil. They claim they don't worship anything at all.

But their "seven tenets" do reveal the primary focus of their group: the self. Tenet three states that "one's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone." This is a concept that centers the individual, individual will, desire, and want over anyone else, and can be used to justify nearly any action. Further tenets give guidance as to how to consider the plight of others in relation to one's self, but nothing comes ahead of consideration of one's own self. This holds true in their Satanic abortion rituals as well which encourages women to reject the "religious" notion that life begins at conception—a notion that the satanists' beloved science has admitted is true.

Satanism centers the self, just as our elected leaders do. That's why we saw Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds staging a photo op in the capitol instead of removing the satanic altar, that's why we see elected leaders acquiesce to the removal of the Ten Commandments, one of the oldest forms of law, when under pressure from The Satanic Temple or other anti-religious groups that use legal means to destroy the public practice of religion.

What our leaders miss in their refusal to do battle with The Satanic Temple, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, or any of the other groups that seek the destruction and decimation of Christianity and faith, is that the removal and desecration of the religion of our Founding Fathers will not result in a void, but in the establishment, by vacuum, of an atheist state.

Taking religion out of public life becomes the religion of public life. Providing space for prayer in schools, in government buildings, in public space is not the "establishment" of a religion but the allowance of Americans' right to freely practice their religion.

The Satanic Temple is transparent about the fact that they do not worship Satan, they are clear that their intention is not to pray but to desecrate, disrupt and protest. Their statements alone reveal that they do not even believe themselves to be a religion, but intend instead to capture space set aside for other religious groups. They use the tools set aside to protect religious liberty to protest it.

They have gained IRS status as a "church," have won numerous legal fights, have implemented After School Satan Clubs, and have successfully trolled elected leaders. Their members in some 56 chapters love this and keep coming back for more, but this group, founded on hatred of religion is not a religion, and when those who proclaim adherence to evil, even as a joke, come knocking on the state house door, elected officials should turn them away, saying "hate has no place here."

Image: Title: kim reynolds