By Katherine Stewart
Doug Mesner, who goes by the professional name Lucien Greaves, is co-founder and spokesman for the Satanic Temple, a group of political activists who are seeking to establish After School Satan Clubs as a counterpart to fundamentalist Christian Good News Clubs, which they see as an attempt to infiltrate public education and erode the constitutional separation of church and state. (Josh Reynolds/For The Washington Post)
SALEM, Mass. —It’s a hot summer night, and leaders of the Satanic Temple have gathered in the crimson-walled living room of a Victorian manse in this city renowned for its witch trials in the 17th century. They’re watching a sepia-toned video, in which children dance around a maypole, a spider crawls across a clown’s face and eerie, ambient chanting gives way to a backwards, demonic voice-over. The group chuckles with approval.
They’re here plotting to bring their wisdom to the nation’s public elementary school children. They point out that Christian evangelical groups already have infiltrated the lives of America’s children through after-school religious programming in public schools, and they appear determined to give young students a choice: Jesus or Satan.