After School Satan Club launches first Colorado chapter in Paonia

The After School Satan Club — which does not, in fact, hail Satan, organizers say — is launching its first Colorado chapter next week at the rural Paonia K-8 school.

The club is part of a national effort organized by The Satanic Temple to provide an alternative to evangelical Christian after-school clubs, said June Everett, a Colorado Springs-based ordained Satanic Temple minister who oversees the After School Satan Club program nationally.

The devil is in the details when it comes to what the club actually does.

It doesn’t proselytize or teach kids about Satanism, Everett said. Instead, the After School Satan Club is focused on community service projects, science activities, and arts and crafts, she said. Attendees don’t have to be members of the Satanic Temple or show their undying devotion to the Dark Lord — but they will need a signed parental permission slip to join.

The Satanic Temple’s website says the clubs focus on “free inquiry and rationalism.”

“We are proud of who we are and trying to show our communities that we’re trying to have a positive impact,” Everett said in an interview Friday. “We are not devil worshippers and do not believe there is an actual devil waiting down below to collect everybody’s souls, but we believe in Satan as a symbol of standing up to tyrannical authority.

“People at the Satanic Temple consider themselves their own god,” she added. “We hail ourselves and look to ourselves to be able to do good in the world and better ourselves and have it be better than we found it.”

Activities at the clubs vary, Everett said, but devil worship is not in the cards. An After School Satan Club in Pennsylvania made dog toys for needy shelter animals, Everett noted. Another one in Ohio made and delivered cards to sick children in a local hospital.

Everett said she found the Satanic Temple after her son was bullied by students in an evangelical after-school group. She said a coworker mentioned the Satanic Temple might have an alternative program that would better suit her family. In 2020, Everett became campaign director for the After School Satan Club and now helps manage the program across the country.

She said a parent in Paonia recently contacted her about bringing a chapter to the K-8 school. The Denver Post could not reach that parent Friday.

Paonia K-8 Principal Amelia Baldwin deferred comment on the After School Satan Club to Delta County 50-J Assistant Superintendent Kurt Clay, who also couldn’t be reached.

But Clay told KVNF radio in Paonia this week that the club is allowed and parents have been notified about its planned Monday launch.

“In this particular case, it’s considered a religious group and we allow other religious groups to use our facilities as well,” Clay told the radio station. “In fact, in Delta County, we have from time to time other churches rent some of our facilities and so once we allow one we have to allow all.”

The After School Satan Club has generated pushback in other states including Pennsylvania, where the American Civil Liberties Union issued a letter Friday to the Saucon Valley School District warning district officials that their decision to deny the club access to school facilities violates the First Amendment.

The Pennsylvania district initially approved the After School Satan Club’s application but revoked it after receiving threats of violence, the ACLU said.

“Under the First Amendment, the government can’t treat one religious group less favorably than another, and it can’t give objectors or hecklers a ‘veto’ over unpopular speech by denying groups like the After School Satan Club access to a public forum,” said Sara Rose, deputy legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

So far, Colorado’s Delta County 50-J school district has been a pleasure to work with, Everett said, and the club hasn’t caused much of a local ruckus. But the school district’s superintendent, in the interview with KVNF, acknowledged there has been talk of potential protests.

“There’s a big thing that they’re going to picket and riot and so on,” Clay said. “We don’t allow any of those things on our property and that won’t be allowed on the school district property. They can do that on a public street in a public setting so that they can be out on the road. You can petition and picket but not on the school property.”

To any naysayers, Everett said she hopes they dig a little deeper and look into the work their local Satanic Temples do in their communities.

Through April 14, the Satanic Temple of Colorado is hosting Menstruatin’ with Satan to collect period products for to donate to shelters across the state.

“What you think is good isn’t always good,” Everett said. “We’re not the ones making the headlines of pastors abusing kids. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Don’t send your kids. For others who do want to attend and do have other views, we’re not trying to take away anyone’s rights, we’re just demanding the same rights others have.”

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