LEBANON, Conn. (WTNH) — A new after-school club coming to an elementary school in Lebanon has some families expressing concern.
Lebanon Elementary School is currently home to several after-school clubs not affiliated with the school. The newest addition is an “After School Satan Club” organized by a group called The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Mass. Cofounder Lucien Greaves said the group is a recognized church.
“The After School Satan Programs are made not to proselytize children, but to offer an alternative to religious after school clubs,” Greaves told News 8.
Amy Bourdan runs an advocacy group called Parent’s Choice, which promotes religious freedom. The concern, she said, is that the satanic temple is operating under the guise that it is a religious organization.
“I think it’s deceptive,” she said. “I liken it to the camel cigarettes used to entice the youth and children.”
Meanwhile, Kate Prokop, who is connected to several parents at the school, said the name of the group and the symbols it uses are harmful to children.
“If you look on their website and the different things that they’re handing out, there’s symbolism of the devil, and I think that that’s inappropriate,” Prokop said.
When asked about concerns about its symbolism, Greaves responded, “You can’t just assume people are moral monsters based upon the symbols and mythologies that they use.”
Andrew Gonzalez, superintendent of Lebanon Public Schools, told News 8 in a statement, “The Lebanon Public Schools (LPS) allows outside organizations to use LPS facilities, in accordance with Board Policy 1007. As such, LPS must allow community organizations to access school facilities, without regard to the religious, political, or philosophical ideas they express.”
The statement said, “prohibiting particular organizations from accessing our school buildings based on the perspectives they offer or express could violate our obligations under the First Amendment and other applicable law.”
The Satanic Temple said that it intentionally organizes at schools like Lebanon Elementary, where existing religious organizations share the space.
Several parents didn’t want to speak with News 8 out of fear those clubs could be shut down if they publicly express their opposition.
The Satanic Temple said that shutting down existing religious programs is not its objective. Its first meeting date is scheduled for Dec 1.