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Satanic Temple pushing after school clubs

Stock image of boy playing.

Across the nation, school days are often extended with after school reading clubs, homework help, and sports activities; but are parents ready for an after-school program based on Satan?

The Satanic Temple is planning on rolling out After School Satan Clubs at select public elementary schools across the nation this year, The Washington Post reports.

Doug Mesner, the Satanic Temple’s co-founder, told the Post it boils down to this: If Christian evangelical groups have already staked a claim in after-school programs, why shouldn’t Satan have a seat at the table as well?

“It’s critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think,” Mesner, who goes by Lucien Greaves, told the Post.

But if you’re picturing a room of young children learning about the man in red, you’re wrong.

According to the group’s website, the "Educatin' with Satan" after school program will focus on the concepts of “critical reasoning, independent-thinking, fun and free thought.” Children will be required to bring a signed permission slip to participate.

While many may believe the group worships the devil, that’s not entirely the case,according to the Satanic Temple.

The Satanic Temple (TST) does not teach the existence of a literal Satan but rather uses the name as a symbol for rebellion against tyranny and authoritarian rule, according to the group’s website. The group says it believes that science trumps all.

So, will “After School Satan Clubs” become a reality?

The Satanic Temple says it plans to use the same approach the Child Evangelism Fellowship used to push its Good News Club programs into schools across the country.

In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that religious groups seeking to use public school facilities "after school" must be treated as non-religious groups and allowed to organize.

In a nutshell, schools cannot discriminate against a religious group.

The Child Evangelism Fellowship used the ruling to promote its clubs, which are focused on lessons from the Bible.

The Satanic Temple notes they are "eager" to offer schools their program.

"We would like to thank the Liberty Counsel, specifically, for opening the doors of public schools to the After School Satan Club through their dedication to religious liberty," Mesner said in a statement on the group's website.

Mesner, said in the statement, that the group has already reached out to school districts located near local Satanic Temple chapters. All of the schools STS has reached out to have hosted, or are now hosting, Good News Clubs, he said.

"This being the case, we are sure that the school districts we’ve approached are well aware that they are not at liberty to deny us use of their facilities," Mesner said in the statement.

Follow @MaryBowerman on Twitter.