FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ARE YOU A REAL RELIGION OR JUST A CLEVER ACTIVIST GROUP?
The Satanic Temple is an actual religion, recognized legally by the IRS as a church. Though we do not believe in superstitious entities, spirits or forces, our beliefs and ethical system are nonetheless sincere and just as deeply held as in other, more well-known religions. TST WA is a religious congregation; our goal is to come together to practice our religion, do good works in our community service, and engage in activism when our beliefs encourage us to do so. We are NOT simply an activist or troll group. We believe everyone has the right to practice their religion in freedom, as long as that religion is not forced on others or into the public space without granting other religions the same public space access.
HOW CAN I VISIT THE TEMPLE OR ATTEND A MEETING?
We do not have a local physical location for the Satanic Temple of Washington; TST National Headquarters does have a physical location in Salem, Massachusetts. TST Washington holds public events and events open to our Novitiates throughout the year; check our Facebook page for more info.
DO YOU PERFORM WEDDINGS OR FUNERALS?
Yes, we have Ministers of Satan who are legally empowered to perform weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.
DO YOU WORSHIP SATAN?
No ─ we are a nontheistic religion. It is the position of The Satanic Temple that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. The Satanist should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.
DO YOU PROMOTE EVIL?
No. The Satanic Temple holds to the basic premise that undue suffering is bad, and that which reduces suffering is good. We do not believe in symbolic “evil.” We embrace blasphemy as a legitimate expression of personal independence from counter-productive traditional norms.
WHAT DOES SATAN MEAN TO TST?
Satan is symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds. Satan is an icon for the unbowed will of the unsilenced inquirer… the heretic who questions sacred laws and rejects all tyrannical impositions. Ours is the literary Satan best exemplified by Milton and the Romantic Satanists, from Blake to Shelley, to Anatole France. For a Satanic analysis of Anatole France, see Lilith Starr's article "Satan as Humanitarian Hero in "Revolt of the Angels."
IS THERE A RECOMMENDED READING LIST FOR TST?
For more in-depth information about Satanism and the philosophy of the Satanic Temple, check out our national TST Recommended Reading List.
IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE SUPERNATURAL, HOW IS TST A RELIGION?
The idea that religion belongs to supernaturalists is ignorant, backward, and offensive. The metaphorical Satanic construct is no more arbitrary to us than are the deeply held beliefs that we actively advocate for. Are we supposed to believe that those who pledge submission to an ethereal supernatural deity hold to their values more deeply than we? Are we supposed to concede that only the superstitious are proper recipients of religious exemption and privilege? In fact, Satanism provides us all that a religion should, without a compulsory attachment to untenable items of faith-based belief: It provides a narrative structure by which we contextualize our lives and works. It provides a body of symbolism and religious practice — a sense of identity, culture, community, and shared values.
IS TST A MEDIA STUNT/HOAX/TROLLING, ETC.?
Some have conveniently concluded, upon observing The Satanic Temple’s media coverage, that the media attention itself is the primary objective of TST’s activities. While media outreach has helped to raise awareness of the campaigns we have initiated, these campaigns have ultimate goals related issues that are important to us and our membership.
So inured is the general public to the idea that there is only one monolithic voice of “the” religious agenda that any attempt at a counter-balance — or assertion of a minority voice — is often viewed as necessarily a mere targeted provocation against those who enjoy an unquestioned tacit assertion of sole squatters rights in the religio-political dialogue.
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?
We believe in the pursuit of knowledge and freedom of Will. We believe in our Seven Tenets:
One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forego your own.
Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.
Materially, we believe in nothing that is not demonstrably true, and hold to even those beliefs with an understanding that they, too, must remain open to revision in the light of new scientific understandings.
HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT FROM HUMANISTS?
A unifying attribute of all Satanists is our embrace of our outsider status. In addition, Satanists adhere to the principles of individual sovereignty and rejection of tyrannical authority. These concerns are of paramount importance to us, but are not fundamental components of Humanism.
HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SATANIC ORGANIZATIONS?
Many Satanic organizations focus on pointless and misguided efforts to establish a monopoly on a vision of the one ‘true’ Satanism. This obsession with ownership has fomented an unfortunate culture in which Satanism’s most vitriolic critics are often self-identified Satanists.
The Satanic Temple is not interested in establishing itself as the sole arbiter of Satanic practice. Rather, we are open to working with other self-identified Satanic organizations to promote general recognition of Satanic legitimacy.
While many Satanic organizations seem to revel in superfluous hierarchies while isolating themselves in petty organizational autocracy, the Satanic Temple eschews rigid, centralized authority and focuses its efforts on effecting tangible constructive change. We believe in building a politically active Satanic movement and invite others to join us in these efforts.
HOW DOES TST’S SATANISM DIFFER FROM LAVEYAN SATANISM?
TST has its own guiding principles and tenets, distinct from the LaVeyan school, that we feel represents a natural evolution in Satanic thought. The overriding principle calls for utilizing the best scientific evidence available to make the most rational real world decisions. To that end, we reject LaVeyan social Darwinist rhetoric that fails to agree with what is currently known regarding social evolution, specifically as it relates to research in evolutionary biology, game theory, reciprocal altruism, cognitive science, etc.
TST also strongly rejects the LaVeyan fetishization of authoritarianism. We believe this is antithetical to Satanic notions of individual sovereignty. Further, while LaVeyan Satanism is atheistic — in that it rejects the notion that Satan is a conscious entity — it is still supernaturalist. TST does not forward supernatural theories of the universe and finds little value in LaVeyan edicts such as those that instruct one to “acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.” (From the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth, Anton LaVey)
HOW CAN I JOIN?
If you are interested in joining the Satanic Temple - Washington Congregation, please join our "Allies and Novitiates of TST Washington" Facebook group.