Yesterday, the New York City-based Satanic Temple announced a campaign designed to stop corporal punishment in schools and protect students’ right to pray to Satan.
The Protect Children Project “encourages students to register at the project website, as the temple will then notify their respective school boards that their deeply held beliefs oppose physical and psychological abuses, including the use of corporal punishment, physical restraints, and isolation rooms as forms of punishment.”
The Project cites statistics from the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education that indicate that over 220,000 students were struck during the school year, and that another 39,000 were forcibly restrained.
According to the press release, the Project has set up a website where students can register that they “affirm that my deeply held beliefs acknowledge the inviolability of the human body and mind and being physically and psychologically harmed against my will violates these beliefs.” At that point, the Temple can then contact their school and school district to let them know that they are on notice.
“One of the fundamental tenets of The Satanic Temple is personal sovereignty and the inviolability of one’s body and mind. Hitting a child or placing them in solitary confinement goes entirely against our beliefs,” says Lucien Greaves, Temple spokesperson, in the press release.
“The documents we have made available not only provide students with a notice they can give to their principal that explains their beliefs, but also informs schools that if they refuse to acknowledge the deeply held beliefs of students, they would be violating their civil rights. School officials could potentially face criminal charges if they disregard a student’s convictions,” he continued.
“If students report to us that they have notified their principal of their religious views and they are physically or psychological abused despite that, it is our intention to intervene.”
The Temple is also providing parents with fact sheets about the dangers of both corporal punishment and solitary confinement, as well as a Satanic-themed activity book for students to help them understand their religious rights.
“We want children to know that they are permitted to pray to Satan in school and that they can even share their religious beliefs with others in accordance with certain guidelines,” Greaves said in the press release.
Greaves told Raw Story via email that he thinks the initiative “will demonstrate is that [his] is a deeply held belief, shared by many, that children should not be subjected to physical or psychological abuse. Establishing this as a deeply held belief, and asking that it not be violated against those who share it, we believe we will have established a legitimate exemption from corporal punishment and solitary confinement in schools.”
“Therefore,” he continued, “violation of that exemption, we would argue, is unconstitutional. Intervention will surely be legal, whether we bring suit against those who ignore this exemption, or aid the violated party in bringing forth legal action.”
The Project hopes to bring awareness to its project by declaring May 15, 2014 “Protect Children Day.”
The Temple gained national attention for attempting to erect a 7-foot-tall goat-headed statue of Baphomet at the Oklahoma state capitol and for claiming it “can’t wait” to to turn Fred Phelps gay in the afterlife.
[“Breakdown” by coba on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed]