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General Discussions => Religion / Philosophy Talk => Topic started by: John Albert on April 29, 2019, 04:30:08 AM

Title: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on April 29, 2019, 04:30:08 AM
From the Satanic Temple's email list:

Quote
The Satanic Temple is Officially Recognized as a Church by IRS

A first in this nation's history, The Satanic Temple has been recognized by the United States government as a legitimate and legally protected Church.

The Satanic Temple (TST), the world’s most eminent modern Satanic religious organization, is celebrating their recent approval - recognition as a legally protected Satanic church, receiving 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS. This status, elevated beyond previous designation as a religious non-profit, is a culmination of years establishing itself as a constitutionally protected class, completely encompassing all attributes designated to churches (https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/churches-religious-organizations/churches-defined) that are uniquely distinct from other charities and/or religious groups.

The decision to pursue exempt status comes as a re-evaluation of prior principled refusal to accept religious tax-exemption after the passing of legislation to prevent the IRS from revoking tax-exempt status from churches (https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/19/house-irs-churches-candidates-politics-698319) as part of an IRS Funding bill. “In light of theocratic assaults upon the Separation of Church and State in the legislative effort to establish a codified place of privilege for one religious viewpoint”, says TST’s co-founder Lucien Greaves, “we feel that accepting religious tax exemption — rather than renouncing in protest — can help us to better assert our claims to equal access and exemption while laying to rest any suspicion that we don’t meet the qualifications of a true religious organization.”

To qualify as the first of its kind Church, as opposed to a religious non-profit, The Satanic Temple distinguishes itself from other non-theistic religious groups (https://www.churchofsatan.com/) with its unique set of Tenets, as well as regular congregations and religious services, with an established headquarters located in Salem, MA.

The Satanic Temple’s continued efforts (https://thesatanictemple.com/blogs/the-satanic-temple-news/as-arkansas-erects-ten-commandments-monument-the-satanic-temple-prepares-to-file-religious-discrimination-suit) to participate in the public (https://thesatanictemple.com/blogs/the-satanic-temple-news/13431529-first-post) sphere, where other religious groups have been given favor, has faced various challenges and discrimination from government officials and agencies alike that continuously question or outright mock the religious identity and beliefs of its congregation. “As ‘the religious’ are increasingly gaining ground as a privileged class, we must ensure that this privilege is available to all, and that superstition doesn’t gain exclusive rights over non-theistic religions”, says Greaves. Thus, the designation of Church given to TST and it’s members affirms their rights as religious individuals and cannot be subject to question in legal proceedings.   

As Lucien Greaves puts it, “Satan is here to stay”.
https://mailchi.mp/thesatanictemple/us-government-formally-recognizes-the-satanic-temple-as-church

So now they're a religious 501(c)(3), which means they don't pay taxes and don't have to report income or assets. Official recognition as a religion presumably also means that their members can claim religious exemptions from certain laws under RFRA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Freedom_Restoration_Act).
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on April 30, 2019, 09:01:01 AM
I'm against the idea of any special recognition for religion per se, but as long as that system is in place, I can't blame them.

I hope that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster gets recognized as well. I know that they tried but failed in Norway.

And this is brilliant: Why has the ancient Sumerian religion Zuism become the fastest growing religion in Iceland? (https://icelandmag.is/article/why-has-ancient-sumerian-religion-zuism-become-fastest-growing-religion-iceland)
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: 2397 on April 30, 2019, 03:49:27 PM
Yeah, I'd rather governments drop the category religion entirely.

Apply the laws that are applicable regardless. If someone wants to do charitable work, they should qualify as any charity has to. If someone wants to be exempt from some requirement, all individuals in a similar situation should be exempt as well. Based on their feelings if necessary, but their feelings shouldn't be disregarded because, unlike someone who is catered to, they don't happen to associate them with an officially recognized ideological group.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on May 01, 2019, 05:26:08 AM
I'm against the idea of any special recognition for religion per se, but as long as that system is in place, I can't blame them.

The thing is, The Satanic Temple is opposed to tax-free religion as well!

But this is totally in keeping with their overall strategy to stimulate adherence to the Establishment Clause. I'm curious to see how far they'll push their newfound religious freedoms. Presumably, their members can now start citing RFRA to claim religious exemptions to all kinds of laws.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: PANTS! on May 01, 2019, 03:49:27 PM
I'm against the idea of any special recognition for religion per se, but as long as that system is in place, I can't blame them.

The thing is, The Satanic Temple is opposed to tax-free religion as well!

But this is totally in keeping with their overall strategy to stimulate adherence to the Establishment Clause. I'm curious to see how far they'll push their newfound religious freedoms. Presumably, their members can now start citing RFRA to claim religious exemptions to all kinds of laws.

Here's hoping they start with abortion.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on May 01, 2019, 04:22:58 PM
I'm against the idea of any special recognition for religion per se, but as long as that system is in place, I can't blame them.

The thing is, The Satanic Temple is opposed to tax-free religion as well!

But this is totally in keeping with their overall strategy to stimulate adherence to the Establishment Clause. I'm curious to see how far they'll push their newfound religious freedoms. Presumably, their members can now start citing RFRA to claim religious exemptions to all kinds of laws.

Here's hoping they start with abortion.

I'm guessing psychedelic drugs, but maybe I ought to give then more credit.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: wastrel on May 01, 2019, 04:47:51 PM
The Satanic Temple annoys the hell out of me.  I much prefer the Church of Satan.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: 2397 on May 02, 2019, 03:56:48 AM
Or the People's Satanic Front.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on May 02, 2019, 10:15:06 AM
The Satanic Temple annoys the hell out of me.  I much prefer the Church of Satan.

Fuck that.

LaVeyan Satanism = Libertarianism + Cosplay

The Satanic Temple actually have a very progressive agenda and do some good work in addition to the partying.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: daniel1948 on May 02, 2019, 11:39:24 AM
I think it's great that a joke religion has gotten tax-exempt status. Because while the people may have serious and worthwhile goals and purposes in establishing satanic churches, I'm confident none of them actually worship Satan.

Satan is a character in the Judaic-Christian-Islamic religions who opposes the creator-God. Worship of Satan implies an acceptance of the theological framework in which Satan exists, and that the Satanist either believes that the creator-god who defeated Satan is the evil one, or that the Satanist supports evil.

Anything else is a satirical attack on the established religions that name God's nemesis "Satan" or just an outright joke. I applaud this. As a self-styled Pastafarian myself, I regard members of the Satanic churches as fellow travelers in the effort to mock religion. So I am quite pleased that one such church has gotten tax-exempt status.

Beyond this, I know nothing about any of the Satanic churches.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: Ron Obvious on May 03, 2019, 01:30:07 PM
The Satanic Temple annoys the hell out of me.  I much prefer the Church of Satan.

Splitter!
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on May 03, 2019, 08:08:19 PM
Splitter!

(https://i.imgur.com/BliTfVy.jpg)
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: arthwollipot on May 05, 2019, 11:15:28 PM
Yeah, I'd rather governments drop the category religion entirely.

Apply the laws that are applicable regardless. If someone wants to do charitable work, they should qualify as any charity has to. If someone wants to be exempt from some requirement, all individuals in a similar situation should be exempt as well. Based on their feelings if necessary, but their feelings shouldn't be disregarded because, unlike someone who is catered to, they don't happen to associate them with an officially recognized ideological group.

In Australia, "advancing religion" has always been part of the definition of "charity" (Charities Act 2013 Section 12.1d (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013A00100)). I was working in the nonprofit sector at a time when the government was doing a review of the definition of charity (of which the above act was the result) and I will always feel guilty for not doing more to bring this to the attention of the skeptical and atheist communities. As far as I could tell, only the charity sector even knew that the review was happening.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on May 08, 2019, 06:35:43 AM
In Australia, "advancing religion" has always been part of the definition of "charity" (Charities Act 2013 Section 12.1d (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013A00100)).

That's gross.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: arthwollipot on May 08, 2019, 09:44:31 PM
In Australia, "advancing religion" has always been part of the definition of "charity" (Charities Act 2013 Section 12.1d (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013A00100)).

That's gross.

It's very disappointing, yes. But I am given to understand that it's common to many countries. I'd be pretty surprised if the US doesn't include something like it.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on May 09, 2019, 01:19:55 PM
I think it's great that a joke religion has gotten tax-exempt status. Because while the people may have serious and worthwhile goals and purposes in establishing satanic churches, I'm confident none of them actually worship Satan.

Satan is a character in the Judaic-Christian-Islamic religions who opposes the creator-God. Worship of Satan implies an acceptance of the theological framework in which Satan exists, and that the Satanist either believes that the creator-god who defeated Satan is the evil one, or that the Satanist supports evil.

Anything else is a satirical attack on the established religions that name God's nemesis "Satan" or just an outright joke. I applaud this. As a self-styled Pastafarian myself, I regard members of the Satanic churches as fellow travelers in the effort to mock religion. So I am quite pleased that one such church has gotten tax-exempt status.

Beyond this, I know nothing about any of the Satanic churches.

I completely share your reasoning. It is a way to delegitimize religion, helping to reduce its societal power and influence.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on May 09, 2019, 02:10:06 PM
Yeah, I just looked. It's in the guidelines for the 501(c)(3) exemption.

Quote
Charitable Organizations

If your organization is applying for recognition of exemption as a charitable organization, it must show that it is organized and operated for purposes that are beneficial to the public interest. Some examples of this type of organization are those organized for:
  • Relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged,
  • Advancement of religion,
  • Advancement of education or science,
  • Erection or maintenance of public buildings, monuments, or works,
  • Lessening the burdens of government,
  • Lessening of neighborhood tensions,
  • Elimination of prejudice and discrimination,
  • Defense of human and civil rights secured by law, and
  • Combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.
https://www.irs.gov/publications/p557 (https://www.irs.gov/publications/p557)
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on May 09, 2019, 02:38:30 PM
I don't see why "Advancement of religion" as such would be considered to be in the public interest. Sure, religious organizations can engage in activities that are in the public interest, and then they should be eligible to be considered charitable organizations, unless they also engage in activities that are clearly not in the public interest. An example of this would be The Salvation Army, which engages in charitable activities, but also has some homophobic practices.

Of course, secular organizations can also engage in charitable activities. It really makes little sense to consider "Advancement of religion" as such to be in the public interest.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on May 09, 2019, 02:44:11 PM
It's like "Advancement of superstition," or even more succinctly, "Advancement of bullshit."
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: stands2reason on May 28, 2019, 05:31:58 PM
I'm against the idea of any special recognition for religion per se, but as long as that system is in place, I can't blame them.

The thing is, The Satanic Temple is opposed to tax-free religion as well!

In other words, they are just playing Devil's Advocate?
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on May 29, 2019, 04:04:30 AM
I'm against the idea of any special recognition for religion per se, but as long as that system is in place, I can't blame them.

The thing is, The Satanic Temple is opposed to tax-free religion as well!

In other words, they are just playing Devil's Advocate?

Come to think of it, that's exactly what they're doing!

The sole purpose of their organization is to make Christians respect the Establishment Clause, by showing them how it feels to have somebody else's religion rubbed in their faces.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: Keo_Mitchell on June 08, 2019, 11:50:23 AM

LaVeyan Satanism = Libertarianism + Cosplay


I hate cosplay.

The only real issue I have with TST is that it uses the Satanism label when you don't need to be a "Satanist" to join the TST. More power to them in their pursuits of political reform but call it what it is, an activist group not Satanism. Side note, in their documents they are listed as Christian, therefore I must reject them!  ;)
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on June 09, 2019, 05:13:21 AM
Because Satan is a figure in Christian mythology, most Satanists are Christian by default.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: brilligtove on June 09, 2019, 09:50:47 AM
Because Satan is a figure in Christian mythology, most Satanists are Christian by default.
By that logic Muslims are Jews by default.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on June 09, 2019, 11:28:19 AM
Because Satan is a figure in Christian mythology, most Satanists are Christian by default.

By that logic Muslims are Jews by default.

I misspoke. What I said was reductive. It's wrong to say that most Satanists are Christian by default. In fact, most Satanists are probably atheists.

Classic LaVeyan Satanism rejects the concept of supernatural entities and is all about the transformative power of self-awareness and exercise of the will. The ritual and "magic" they practice may invoke Satan, but is really intended to foster internal empowerment of the self.

The Satanic Temple is mostly a political action organization. Their FAQ (https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/faq) explicitly rejects the the supernatural, worship or pacts with the Devil.

But all Satanists do not align themselves with the teachings of Anton LaVey or the actions of The Satanic Temple. "Satanism" is a type or classification of New Age religion, and as such it's very personalized to the whims of individual followers. Some Satanists undoubtedly do worship Satan as a supernatural entity, as opposed to the Judeo-Christian God. And by necessity, those kinds of Satanists patently acknowledge some faith in the Christian worldview and position themselves in opposition to God within that paradigm.

Does that make more sense?

On the other hand, do the Muslims define themselves as Jews? As an atheist myself I can't speak on behalf of Muslims, but it doesn't seem so according to the Koran.

Judaism defines the Hebrews as an ethnic group explicitly favored by the Creator. The Koran upholds that view (https://quran.com/2/47), as well as the concept of a Covenant ("mithaq (http://mypercept.co.uk/articles/covenant-quran.html)") which allegedly expands God's favor to all "People of the Book." But at the same time makes it very clear the difference between Muslims, Christians and Jews, and acknowledges that all three traditions have their own set of laws (https://quran.com/5/48) which Allah intends them to follow.

Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on June 09, 2019, 11:57:29 AM
The only real issue I have with TST is that it uses the Satanism label when you don't need to be a "Satanist" to join the TST. More power to them in their pursuits of political reform but call it what it is, an activist group not Satanism.

TST's entire strategy (for dissuading Christians from pushing their religion in public spaces) is dependent upon being perceived as a legit religion espousing "sincerely held beliefs." Take that away, and their entire purpose falls flat.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: Keo_Mitchell on June 10, 2019, 12:24:12 PM

TST's entire strategy (for dissuading Christians from pushing their religion in public spaces) is dependent upon being perceived as a legit religion espousing "sincerely held beliefs." Take that away, and their entire purpose falls flat.

Oh I know, it is why I don't like it. Anton's philosophy of Satanism is not only anti-religion (mostly of Christian ideology), but also pushes individuality. TST, in order to have the power they have, needs to unite like-minded individuals into one core group; a herd if you will. The closest thing to satanism the TST has is the character Lucien Greaves, the leader of the TST. The reason I say the character is for the sole reason that TST was born out of a mockumentary during the Bush administration. Other founders of the TST have admitted that the group is not "satanism" but an activist group. My issue with that is it muddies the water and goes against the satanic rules of Anton, namely individuality and liberty. TST members are sheep in wolf's clothing and COS and Lavey are wolves pretending to be sheep.

TST is also facing infighting, which happens when you unite progressives and radical thinkers into one group. You're going to have differing egos and varying differences in political discourse or action; it is why COS chooses to be spread out and not encourage regular, mandatory, come togetherness. An example could be found here (https://medium.com/@emmastory/why-im-leaving-the-satanic-temple-528bbc06432b). I don't like to see people with aspirations to fail, though I'm certain this sort of niche political group isn't too rare to die out.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: Shibboleth on June 10, 2019, 02:05:53 PM
Getting excited for this is a little like getting excited for some underdog beating Duke in March Madness. It kind of like it because it is sticking it to the man a little bit but then I remember that I hate college basketball and couldn't give a shit.
Title: Re: The Satanic Temple is now officially recognized as a church by the US government
Post by: John Albert on June 10, 2019, 03:16:45 PM
I don't really give a shit about satanism as a philosophy. Christianity is stupid enough in itself. But Satanism, being a reactionary counter-religion to Christianity, is even more dimwitted.

The Church of Satan's philosophy is juvenile and antisocial. Its values (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaVeyan_Satanism#The_Nine_Satanic_Statements) are all about egoistic self-indulgence, pretentious posturing, and harming others, rather than promoting any kind of utilitarian morality that would support a civilized society. If everybody followed LaVey's teachings the world would be a horrible place.

For what it's worth, I prefer The Satanic Temple because their Seven Tenets (https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/tenets) reflect Humanist values, and the organization is actually doing something useful by promoting the separation of religion and government.