Earlier this year I wrote about the trend of Satanic activism in the public sphere in America. This month, the trend continues in Delta, Colorado, where materials like “The Satanic Children’s BIG BOOK of Activities” are being made available to the students.
Why? Last December, students were given Gideon Bibles at a school assembly, and children who refused to take a copy were bullied by their peers and teachers. An attorney representing the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote in a letter to the school district: “We do not think schools should be a battleground for religious ideas, but when schools allow the Gideons to prey on children, their message of eternal damnation for any who don’t believe in their god must be countered.” In light of a recent precedent that cost a Florida school district almost $100,000 and ended with the verdict that the school district had to distribute anti-Christian literature as well, the Delta school district collaborated to provide these books to avoid cost and humiliation.
According to a school district representative, the school will distribute whatever the Satanists and atheists request as long as it doesn’t promote “hostility or violence … [and isn’t] obscene or pornographic.” Concern on this issue indicates the widespread bias held against these groups, as it is unlikely a spokesperson would offer the same warning to a Christian distributor of literature.
Other books made available to the students include “It’s Okay to Not Believe in God,” a book on separation of church and state, and a book outlining instances of rape and obscenity in the Bible – the school censored that one with stickers. Whatever the Freedom from Religion League may say, this looks like a battleground of religious ideas.
Wherever religion is intersecting the public sphere, atheists and Satanists are happy to jump in with demonstrations and texts with critical tone ranging from tongue-in-cheek to outright offensive. Their tactics are potent: Delta school district is considering new by-laws to remove all religiously charged materials from the classroom.
The court decisions that drive this trend express American cultural compartmentalization of religion. Everywhere, religious people are preferring to withdraw their materials and beliefs from the public sphere to prevent the Satanists and atheists to act in those spaces as well. This type of resolution might seem best to Protestant culture, or might be the plan of the Satanists and atheists all along, but is it the best solution for learning and growing children in public schools, or for the public culture of the country as a whole?