Parent Victor Virgili comments about the possibility that an After School Satan Club might be coming to Pt. Defiance Elementary in Tacoma. Debbie Cafazzo dcafazzo@thenewstribune.com
Parent Victor Virgili comments about the possibility that an After School Satan Club might be coming to Pt. Defiance Elementary in Tacoma. Debbie Cafazzo dcafazzo@thenewstribune.com

Education

Satanic Temple plans to open state’s first club at Tacoma elementary school

October 12, 2016 3:04 PM

The Satanic Temple of Seattle says it plans to open an after-school club at Point Defiance Elementary School in Tacoma, after withdrawing a similar request at a Mount Vernon school.

In an email to The News Tribune on Wednesday, the temple’s Lilith Starr said the Seattle group is focusing on Tacoma because of timing. The club would be the Seattle group’s first.

“We changed our target school simply due to scheduling issues: We want to launch at the earliest possible date,” Starr said. “We would not have been able to launch our After School Satan Club at Mount Vernon until April, as the school has its own after-school program that runs till then.”

Satanic Temple officials have said they are looking to provide an alternative for students at schools that have Good News Clubs, a Christian after-school program developed by the Missouri-based Child Evangelism Fellowship. Point Defiance has a Good News after-school club.

Point Defiance parents, asked about the news as they waited to pick up their kids after school on Wednesday, had mixed reactions.

Victor Virgili said he wouldn’t enroll his child in a Satan club.

“That’s not how we were raised,” he said. But he believes that if other parents want to do so, it should be up to them.

“I don’t want to impose my beliefs on others,” he added.

Jessie Kelley said she wasn’t sure if any type of religious instruction belonged at a public school — even after school.

“There is a time and place for it,” she said. “There has to be a line on what is ethically right.”

Courtney Reed said she doesn’t agree with allowing the Satan club at school.

“If there was a petition to stop it, I would absolutely sign it,” she said.

Starr has said that Satan clubs offer games, puzzles and snacks, along with education about scientific rationalism, critical thinking and self-determination — beliefs held dear by temple members. The Satanic Temple is a national organization headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts

She said Wednesday the temple has contacted Tacoma Public Schools to register its intentions and is in the process of picking up a facility use application. School district spokesman Dan Voelpel said the district was conducting a legal review of the temple’s request because of the “unique situation.”

“We want to make sure, because it is a high-profile issue, that we are responding appropriately,” he said.

Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635, @DebbieCafazzo

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