As it poured outside on Friday afternoon, some East Texans prayed on ahead of an “unbatism event” that was scheduled in Tyler by a Dallas-Fort Worth-area Satanic Temple.
“I wanted to get a group of people together to go down before the event tomorrow and just pray and exercise our freedom of religion,” said Lauren Ethredge-Langas, a member of Church of the Pines in Tyler.
For context, the Satanic Temple, despite its name, doesn’t worship the Biblical figure — or even believe Satan exists — but operates as more of an advocacy group, saying it aims to “encourage empathy, reject tyrannical authority,” in addition to promoting “common sense” and “opposing injustice.” The group has made many court challenges to (often conservative) laws that may only protect or promote Christianity, as The Hill reports.
The Satanic Temple is often confused with the earlier Church of Satan, founded in the 1960s, which the Temple is not aligned with, per its website. Most notably, the Temple has protested anti-LGBTQ lawmakers and organizations and challenged GOP abortion bans, saying bans violate its beliefs that only individuals have rights to make decisions about their own bodies.
According to its website, the Temple says an “unbaptism” is an activity in which “participants renounce superstitions that may have been imposed upon them without their consent as a child” — essentially, religious beliefs adults wish to part ways with.
Nevertheless, some local church members in Tyler said they felt called to gather Friday.
“As a Christian, we’re called to a spiritual battleground and I think this is an opportunity to exercise our strength in our relationship with Christ,” explained Ethredge-Langas.
Members of the nearby W.O.W. Church said they were unaware of the prayer gathering, but still felt called to invite pastors to the square after hearing about the Temple’s event.
“We didn’t come down to be combative, we didn’t come down to bash anyone’s religion, but we wanted to stand as believers and pray,” said W.O.W Church Pastor Donnell Walder.
Ethredge-Langas says she expects there will be some church groups that will show up to confront Temple members.
What does the Satanic Temple believe?
The Satanic Temple says it has seven fundamental tenets:
- One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward 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 forgo one’s own.
- Beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.
- People are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one’s best to rectify it and resolve any harm that might 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.