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June 2020

While we receive a great deal of support for our legal efforts, a few people have questioned the wisdom of litigation. Because many Satanists celebrate their outsider status, religious discrimination, despite its ubiquity, is often accepted and taken for granted. The Satanic Temple, however, objects to this treatment.

Because religion is frequently used as a means to curtail people’s rights, the tactic of utilizing the courts as a vehicle for social change is tainted for some. The Satanic Temple believes these tactics are politically neutral. If the courts defend religious liberty in earnest, then they should be compelled to issue rulings that protect and advance rights consistent with beneficent religious doctrine such as ours. Otherwise, we expose the hypocrisy of many judges and set the stage for judicial reform. In this regard, even if we don’t prevail in a legal challenge, the justness of our cause and its legal merits are nevertheless established, and corrupt judges are exposed by the degree to which they avoid adhering to law and precedent.

When those who oppose our mission celebrate our losses in court, often they are celebrating the erosion of justice and the deterioration of our legal system where judges become nothing more than political hacks with an agenda. Sadly, this is becoming the norm.

While there is still hope that we will encounter judges who uphold the law and have a conscience, we will persist. The change many wish to see can be advanced in other ways, but the outcome may not be as permanent or applicable to future violations.

In this month’s newsletter, we celebrate our legal efforts, all while more lawsuits are being planned.

Judy Doe v. Michael L. Parson, et al 19-1578 (8th Cir.)

History: Judy Doe, a member of The Satanic Temple, sought to have an abortion in the State of Missouri, but she was forced to wait for 72-hours and was required to accept reading material that violates her religious beliefs. The material was designed to produce guilt and shame and asserts that life begins at conception.

TST filed a lawsuit against the State on her behalf that claims that the adopted policies and procedures by the State violated Doe’s rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses. TST appealed after a decision did not take into account a prior ruling handed down by the U.S. Eight Circuit Court of Appeals. In the case, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989), the Court ruled that the life of each human being begins at conception is “an impermissible state adoption of a theory when life begins.” The Satanic Temple simply requested that the Court reaffirm its ruling.

The appeal focused on the policies and procedures of the State, which dictate a theory of when life begins for its residents. In place of what should be a personal theory, the State employs its own two-part theory. The first is that the life of each human being begins at conception, and the second is that abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human.

While the State may make laws that promote health and safety, TST insisted that the State may not dictate its beliefs in a manner that “violates [Judy Doe’s] right to choose her theory of when life begins without government input…[that] violates the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause” by demanding written acknowledgment by the patient of the State’s doctrine.

It is in our tenets that decisions regarding one’s body should be based “on the best scientific understanding of the world." This holds true even if the science does not comport with the religious or political beliefs of others.


On June 9, the Eighth Circuit, in a three-judge panel decision, affirmed the dismissal of the TST’s challenge to the constitutionality of the Missouri Informed Consent Statute on the grounds it violates the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment.  The Court found that the U.S. Supreme Court had affirmed the Missouri Tenet as a valid expression of the State’s right to make a “value judgment” in favor of childbirth over abortion, notwithstanding the Eighth Circuit’s ruling in 1988 that it was an “impermissible theory on when life begins.”

The Court applied the “rational basis” standard to the discrimination in the Missouri Lectionary and found the State could discriminate because the statute was “neutral” and “generally applicable.”  The Court refused to consider the arguments that 1) the Informed Consent Statute violates the “undue burden” standard established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey; or 2) that this is a “hybrid rights” case.  The Court said those claims were not specifically alleged in the complaint as separate counts.

The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure allow a petition for a rehearing en banc by the entire panel of the Eighth Circuit.  Such hearings are disfavored and allowed only if en banc consideration is necessary “to secure or maintain uniformity in the court’s decisions” or “the proceeding involves a question of exceptional importance.”

We will believe the merits of the case and the Court's rejection of it prior ruling warrant a hearing and TST will be filing a petition by June 23.


The Eighth Circuit's explicit avoidance to rule on two fundamental issues that affirm our claim does not represent a loss for the cause of religious liberty for Satanists. Instead, the Court's evasion suggests that they know we are correct in the claims we made in our original appeal.

With the religious protections of the First Amendment and the ruling in the 1988 Webster case, it is evident to TST that their decision was an expression of dogma, separate from any defensible legal precedence. Because the Court's job is to uphold the law, it is reprehensible that they would deprive Satanists of their religious freedom by ignoring fundamental claims. The law is on our side. The petition that we will file against the Eight Circuit will politely call out the duplicity and cowardice of avoiding a legitimate ruling based on law and precedence.  

Satanic Temple et al. v. Scottsdale, AZ, 20-15338 (9th. Cir)

History: The City of Scottsdale, AZ, opens its city council meetings with a legislative prayer.  Prior to our involvement, it was an all-comer system: anyone who wanted to could call a city clerk, request placement on the schedule, and give a prayer.  Prayers came from the Phoenix metro area, mostly from Scottsdale and Phoenix.  In 2016, TST-Arizona requested placement on the schedule.  Similar as all other prayers, the matter was a brief 2-3 minute phone call consisting of "who are you, and when do you want to do it?"  There were no questions about "where are you" or "how many Scottsdale citizens adhere to your religion?"

A massive public outcry ensued as news spread of a Satanic prayer being given at the beginning of the meeting.  One church coordinated 15,207 form emails to object to our equal participation.  The mayor had the clerk respond to emails stating that he did not approve of our beliefs and personally found us repugnant.  One city councilmember informed an objector, "I wish (and intend) my deliberations on Council to be blessed and guided by God alone."  Another councilmember published an article, including the statement, "I do not welcome a Satanist group."  Another wrote an email stating, "I like having the prayers, do NOT want the Satanists, and I think this is taking equality too far."  

The City Manager then became involved and ultimately directed the clerk to rescind the invitation stating that the City "would not deviate from its long-standing practice of having the invocation given only by representatives from institutions that have a substantial connection to the Scottsdale community."  We put on evidence that the City Manager was brought in because of the massive public outcry.

During the trial process, the definition of "substantial connection" shifted from "must be physically located inside of Scottsdale limits" to "well, there's this one church that was just a few miles outside of city limits, but that was the only exception" to "okay, there are 17 pages of instances that congregations from outside of Scottsdale were permitted, but they all had a location somewhere in the Phoenix metro area."

Scottsdale also argued we are not a "real" religion because we don't believe in the supernatural and described us as a "shambolic" set of ad hoc beliefs.  We presented evidence that our tenets address fundamental and imponderable matters, we engage in ritual, we engage in nonprofit work, we have distinct iconography, and, broadly, Satanism is for us what Christianity is to Christians.

Result: The Arizona District Court found that TST is a "real" religion, but that we failed to prove religious discrimination because we had no evidence that the City Manager was, individually, a bigot.  

Next Steps: The case is on appeal before the 9th Circuit, and our brief is due on June 29, 2020.  We expect to prevail because the relevant legal inquiry is not on whether the city manager is a bigot but whether the City's actions betray a discriminatory intent.

Cave et al. v. Thurston, 4:18-cv-18-342 (E.D. Ark.):

History: In 2015, the State of Arkansas enacted the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act, which mandated the erection of a Decalogue on state capitol grounds.  The monument was to be provided by the American Heritage and History Foundation (AHHF), a new purported charity headed up by State Sen. Jason Rapert.  Shortly later, we applied to erect our Baphomet monument.  At the time of our application, the process went like this:

  1. An application is filed for the erection of a monument on state capitol grounds.
  2. The monument plans are considered by the Arts & Grounds subcommittee for size and structural integrity issues.
  3. A public comment period transpires wherein people can provide input on whether they want the monument.
  4. The legislature passes an act to accept the monument.
  5. The applicant deposits 10% of the monument costs into a state-owned trust fund to pay for its maintenance.
  6. The monument goes up.

We passed stages 1 and 2 without issue.  Before we could get to stage 3, a director of the AHHF, State Rep. Hammer introduced a bill that required an act of the General Assembly must be passed before any actions could be taken.  The next day, State Sen. Rapert broadcasted on Facebook live that it would be "a very cold day in Hell" before the State would be compelled to put up the Baphomet monument.  Ultimately, the Decalogue went up--only to be destroyed within 24 hours by a crazy person who broadcasted him running it over on Facebook live.

The Decalogue went up permanently in 2018 and became the subject of litigation within a month.  We moved to intervene shortly after the complaints were filed, and the matter has been in litigation since.

Result: The case is still pending.

Next Steps: The Court is considering three motions for discovery on various issues.  Our motion for summary judgment was most recently due on May 14, but that date has been vacated pending rescheduling.

Satanic Temple v. Belle Plaine, MN, 0:19-cv-01122 (D. MN)

History: The City of Belle Plaine, MN, has a park dedicated to the memory of Belle Plaine veterans.  Around 2017, the City erected a monument of a soldier kneeling before a cross (named "Joe.") The Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a demand letter to take Joe down, arguing it is an Establishment Clause violation.  The City obliged, which resulted in a massive public outcry.  The people wanted Joe back and proposed to designate the City a "limited public forum," which is legalese for "speech with some restrictions can take place here."

A videotaped City meeting (Feb. 6, 2017, found here) took place.  During that meeting, a councilmember announced a concern that we would want to have equal access to the park: "I’ve seen monuments going up in Detroit right now that have a Satanic meaning to them.  How can we, up here, be assured that, number one, these monuments won’t go into that park?" (Id. at 49:31.)

The response was that only "traditional" monuments should be allowed.  The City Attorney indicated that this was untenable: "If the intent is, or the effect of, the criteria is to eliminate certain messages, that is constitutionally suspect, [which] is putting it nicely.  That is exactly what is not allowed: for the Government to establish rules that prevent certain religions from speaking." (Id. at 51:40.)

Ultimately, the City decided to adopt the resolution.

As it would turn out, the councilmember's concern was well taken.  We asked for--and received--a permit for one year to put up this tasteful monument:

A massive public outcry happened.  And after we incurred substantial expenses to build the monument, but before it went up, the City shut down the whole park.  We have sued for a court order to require the City honor the one-year permit.

Result: The case is pending.

Next Steps: The Court is considering cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings.  This could resolve the case without need of discovery.

We have also recently settled a discrimination case.  Per the settlement agreement, this is all we can say: The Satanic Temple has brought and settled a discrimination claim on behalf of its members in an East Coast State. The settlement terms are strictly confidential. The Satanic Temple will not respond to any inquiries from either the media or individuals except as required by law: particularly to include inquiries about the case name, case number, and the terms of settlement.

Result: the parties agreed to enter into a settlement agreement with mutually acceptable terms.

Next Steps: None.




John S. Hall is a poet/spoken word artist, musician (if ukulele counts), and singer-songwriter. He has released numerous recordings, including nine albums with various incarnations of his band King Missile.

He is the author of a collection of poetry (Jesus Was Way Cool) and a self-help parody (Daily Negations), both on Soft Skull Press, and over 100 unpublished children’s stories. His most recent releases may be found at here and here.


Malcolm Jarry ©2020


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