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Religion

Satanic Temple to Distribute Pamphlets to Florida Schools

The Satanic Temple is planning to hand out educational religious materials to public school children in the coming months.

The materials, which includes a coloring and activity booklet for children titled, "The Satanic Children's Big Book of Activities," are being handed out in response to a recent Orange County School Board decision that allows for the distribution of religious materials in public schools.

Specifically, the school board allowed an evangelical Christian group to hand out Bibles to school kids while censoring atheist materials.

See also: Satanic Temple Not Allowed to Put Holiday Display in Florida Capitol

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The materials one atheist group known as the Central Florida Free Thought Community handed out included titles like "Jesus is dead" and "Why I am not a Muslim." Those materials weren't allowed to be distributed by the school board because officials thought it would cause a disruption.

The atheist group then sued the school board. But, last month, a judge threw out the lawsuit after the school board relented and said the group was allowed to hand out their material.

Now with that door open, the Satanic Temple is planning on handing out their own materials, along with the activity book.

"We don't argue the merits of any one voice in a school environment," Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Grieves tells New Times. "We think it's in the best interests for everyone, especially the kids, that the district not to have religious materials of any kind distributed in schools."

The group's tenant is a belief in what they call "our constitutional values, specifically a separation of Church and State."

That's why, along with the activity book, the Satanic Temple is also putting together materials to teach students of the rights and freedoms they're allowed under that law.

But, like anything involving the Satanic Temple, blowback is expected.

"If people are offended," Greives says, "I hope they realize they need to not take it up with us, but with the school board, who allowed this to happen in the first place."

"There has to be an understanding that they probably have a student body that is generally aware of Christian teachings," Grieves added. "Kids know about the Bible. They probably go to church on Sundays with their parents. But our material juxtaposed to that offers differing religious opinions, not just the view that's dominating the discourse."

The Satanic Temple did receive blowback last year when the state's Department of Management Services kept them from putting up a holiday display in the Florida Capitol rotunda. The group's request was called "grossly offensive" by officials, even though the Satanic Temple followed every rule and guideline required to put up a religious display during the holidays.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph