Tacoma’s After-School Satan Club is on pause for now, says Satanic Temple of Seattle

Satan club controversy at Point Defiance Elementary

By law, the Tacoma Public Schools is obligated to allow the Satanic Temple to offer an after-school program at Point Defiance Elementary School. Others aren't happy about it.
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By law, the Tacoma Public Schools is obligated to allow the Satanic Temple to offer an after-school program at Point Defiance Elementary School. Others aren't happy about it.

After a short but initially controversial stint at Point Defiance Elementary School, the After-School Satan Club for kids has ended its programming in Tacoma.

At least for now.

The club met once a month with kids from all elementary grade levels during the second half of last school year, but it doesn’t have the resources to continue this year, according to the Satanic Temple of Seattle.

“It was a matter of funding, and also volunteers who couldn’t take the time out of work because it’s right in the middle of the work day, so we didn’t have enough volunteers,” said Temple leader Lilith Starr.

Those volunteers were members of the Temple, and Starr said two of the three of them had a background in teaching.

While Starr declined to give specific numbers for how many kids came to the 90-minute club, she said it had been well-attended. The Temple also heard interest in starting After-School Satan programs in Puyallup and Enumclaw, she said.

“We did a different module each time. Our goal was to do something fun for the kids as well as educational,” Starr said. “We did an environmental awareness module, so we made a grocery bag out of an old T-shirt. We did art appreciation. We did gender and culture where we looked at superheroes, and we did an art project to help kids visualize the stages in evolution.”

This year, the Temple is making the After-School Satan curriculum available to volunteers who want to run clubs in schools in their communities. So someone could step up in Tacoma and potentially get the club back in business, Starr said.

“Last year, the After-School Satan Club curriculum was only offered in school districts where local chapters of The Satanic Temple could manage and maintain them,” said Chalice Blythe, national director for The Satanic Temple’s After School Satan Club campaign, in a news release.

“In that time, we received a flood of emails from parents, educators, and other qualified parties who were interested in operating After-School Satan Clubs in schools near them,” Blythe said. “This year, we have made our curriculum available to this volunteer network, and we expect to see a much larger After-School Satan Club presence in 2017.”

Tacoma Public Schools’ decision last year to allow the Satan Club drew protests from parents. Last November, a group of Point Defiance parents asked the Tacoma School Board to ban it.

At that time, district officials cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that compels public schools that open their facilities for after-school rental to make the facilities available to all kinds of groups.

The Satanic Temple said on its website that the group is not trying to convert children to Satanism but wants to provide an alternative for students at schools, such as Point Defiance, that have offered Good News Clubs, a Christian after-school program developed by the Missouri-based Child Evangelism Fellowship.

The News Tribune archives contributed to this report.

Candice Ruud: 253-597-8441, @candiceruud

Volunteers sought

Those who are interested in volunteering to run an After-School Satan Club in a school near them can email info@afterschoolsatan.com.