A new after-school club at Golden Hills Elementary School in Kern County’s Tehachapi, called the “After School Satan Club,” is drawing community outrage. That’s largely the point.
In 2001, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Good News Club when a New York school district sought to prevent the group from holding meetings on school grounds after school hours. The Supreme Court ruled that the district could not discriminate against groups based on their viewpoints, and because comparable secular groups were allowed to operate, the Good News Club must also be accommodated. The ruling not only opened the door for religious groups meeting in public schools, but also for the proliferation of After School Satan Clubs as intended counterweights. The clubs created controversy in Moline, Illinois, and Lebanon, Ohio, earlier this year.
“The initial reaction is definitely that of shock and disgust,” Lauren Mae, a mother in Tehachapi and a volunteer with the After School Satan Club, told SFGATE in an email. “There’s also a lot of confusion between The Satanic Temple and The Church of Satan, which are two different things. They definitely do seem to think that we are devil worshippers, which we are not. We don’t believe in a supernatural Satan.”
Paul Hicks will be the leader for the new Tehachapi After School Satan Club, and is also a critical thinking professor. He said Christian based clubs like the Good News Club is one reason why they think schools need the After School Satan Club.
“There’s currently a Good News Club there which is teaching kids to go save souls for Jesus, at the school. We want to give an alternative point of view,” said Hicks.
“I’m not teaching these kids to be Satanic, I’m not teaching these kids that they need to hail Satan or identify as Satanists, what we’re doing is we’re thinking critical thinking, we’re teaching science, we’re teaching empathy and benevolence,” said Hicks.