*Interview conducted June 6, 2020.*
*A number of interviews have had processing delays for a number of reasons. Apologies to both audience and interviewees in advance. These interviews, in terms of the information & crystallized views of the period – and the respect to the individuals taking the time to converse with a stray Canadian, will be progressively published now.*
Chalice Blythe is a former Member of the International Council of The Satanic Temple (TST). Jade Webber is Co-Chapter Head of The Satanic Temple Albany (TST Albany). It is a “non-theistic Satanic religious organization and IRS-recognized church.” Its fundamental principles amount to seven, as follows:
- 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 forgo one’s 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 remediate 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.
Here we talk about the personal stories and views of Webber and Blythe, including the Albany Chapter of TST (TST Albany), various forms of activism, Christian Nationalism, and resources available online and in community.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Jade or Chalice, what is some background in religion for you, whether individually or within community? How does this tie up with The Satanic Temple?
Jade Webber: We were not theistic to begin with. My mom let me find my own way. I have tried literally every religion. I got books from the library. Nothing really fit with me. I ended up falling on atheism for a long time.
Then I want to say around 2017. I, accidentally, found myself at the headquarters in Salem at The Satanic Temple. I went back to Albany and thought, “Man, I hope something like that is around here.”
That’s when I joined TST. That’s my story.
Chalice Blythe: Yes, my backstory is pretty basic. I was generic Christian. I don’t even know what sect we were, very generic. We followed the New Testament. It was, “Meh, we don’t care about it.” So, I didn’t learn about the Old Testament until much later in life.
I came into TST later in my teen years. I knew I wasn’t a Christian since I was 11. I stuck with atheism for a while. I looked into other religions. I was very familiar with Satanism by reading The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey [Ed. Anton Szandor LaVey, born Howard Stanton Levey], who founded the Church of Satan.
I read that when I was a teenager, in fact a few times over the years. I didn’t identify as a Satanist until TST came along in 2014. The reason for that was I knew the foundations of Satanism. I agree with a lot of Anton LaVey had set up with The Church of Satan.
For me, I had hesitated identifying as a Satanist because the way The Church of Satan had some political views and antiquated views towards women. It didn’t flesh well with me. What we understood to be modern Satanism was understood at that time was how the Church of Satan was defining it, so, I was fine with being an atheist.
Discovering The Temple of Satan in 2014, and reading the tenets, and knowing the way in which they evolved what we understood as modern Satanism, and how this was applied to not only how we were affirming out rights in society, but also taking away the restrictions and the views from antiquated times, it spoke to me.
I like to say, “Satanism was my coming home religion.” It just made sense.
Jacobsen: What about the current context of religion in the United States? Religion in the United States has been an outlier in all developed nations. Its level of religiosity. Its kind of religiosity. It has been so powerful as a social and political force.
One could look at it as an economic force simply looking at the wealth with the megachurch pastors, for instance, and the Prosperity Gospel preachers and other grandiose personalities or outright charlatans. What is the response of The Satanic Temple to this political context of many people’s lives in the United States?
Blythe: Our response has been that we’re obviously against the encroachment, and abusing the separation of church and state. They’ve, essentially, violated that. What we have found, people are very much about this encroachment with a mentality of us versus them.
People’s rights being over others until the Satanists demand their rights be respected as well. What you’ll see TST has done, we are not being trolls. We are not demanding special rights. We are demanding our rights are respected as well.
What happens as a minority religion, especially one such as Satanism, you remind people as a religious group, as a religious people, that you have the same rights as others. Then it makes people think about what rights.
They’ve been sitting on privilege. That their rights are better or their ideas about the world. They have the majority. So, it means that they’re the law of the land. But the way of our country should be based on the Constitution.
There shouldn’t be any person ruling over another. So, when you have Evangelicals claiming that they should get special treatment, they think that they’re the majority; so, it should benefit them. It does benefit them. They don’t realize that it should benefit us, as Satanists, too.
It is asking people whether they want those special treatments to be upheld and go into effect because what will benefit an Evangelical Christian will benefit a Satanist. A good example is the invocations campaigns.
At city council meetings, they have a moment of silence or a prayer before council meetings. When we ask to partake in that, that’s when everyone had their foot out, “How is this possible? A Satanist wants to come and give an invocation. This is just for Christians.”
Blythe: It’s like, “No, no, this is not what this should be about. You don’t get exceptions or special treatment, especially under the law.” That’s not what it should be. We have been challenging that concept and that encroachment, not only highlighting the encroachment happening, but also showing their tactics and how they go about it.
Because they can’t get around it. They want to insert themselves in the public forum. We can do that with them.
Jacobsen: What is the interpretation when you’re making an equal rights argument? To me, it makes perfect sense. In the United States, religious privilege is enormous. So, if someone is saying to a Christian, fundamentalist Evangelical Christian, for instance, “I believe Satanists deserve equal rights with Evangelical Christians, whether for invocations or otherwise,” how is that interpreted?
Both in the responses Evangelical leaders are giving or in the rhetoric they bring to the pulpit regarding “Satanists.”
Blythe: Usually, they state we are not a religion. This becomes an argument about what constitutes a religion. For those of a theistic viewpoint, first, they try to get us on the fact that “you don’t get rights because you believe in a literal Devil and eat babies.”
Then you tell them, “That’s not at all what we’re about.” When you say you’re atheistic, then they state that since you’re atheistic; you aren’t a religion. They try to argue their way out. It is never about their response to the equal opportunity/equal rights argument.
It is always about “you aren’t a religion” argument. Because we are atheistic Satanists. They want to point to us as a hoax; and, atheism isn’t a religion. Atheism is not a religion; it is the lack of.
But because we have an atheistic viewpoint, we use the literary figure of Satan, which doesn’t make us any less of a religion. Going back to the invocation example, in Scottsdale, Arizona, we, recently, just got in a case.
A case went before the court. The court established that we are, in fact, a religion. We didn’t get the outcome that we wanted as far as Scottsdale getting away with what they did. One of the things that court established was that we are a religion.
In addition to getting our tax ID status, we are a religion. They can no longer use that tactic. It will be interesting to see how that goes moving forward. The court system with Jane Doe and reproductive rights.
Now, they can no longer have that tactic. I don’t know what tactic they’ll use since we’ve been affirmed. We are not only affirmed because we say we are affirmed. Now, we have the courts validating that as well.
Jacobsen: How is this played out in micro in Albany, Jade? The conflict between the way you’re making arguments for equal rights based on recognized federal status, for instance, and then the way this is heard by those they would deem the opposition either by themselves or others.
Webber: For the most part, our community has been fairly open. Albany is kind of forward thinking. So, when we interact with the public, we haven’t had pushback for a lot of conflict as far as that. It hasn’t been a real effect for us.
Jacobsen: What are the issues in Albany, even in a progressive area?
Webber: Our issues: The one that we are currently facing. I’m not sure if I am supposed to speak on it, as it is currently ongoing. Other than that, there haven’t been major issues.
Jacobsen: Chalice, you did a famous interview with Jim Jeffries. You have interviews elsewhere. Also, you’ve had longstanding work, which is almost unique with direct opposition, in an area where there isn’t a lot of pushback – which is the minds of children.
So, you ran the After School Satan program. Two questions there: What is the After School Program or programs? What is the development of them now?
Blythe: So, After School Satan clubs are meant to contrast with what is going on in the school system now with the church groups coming in and establishing a presence as an after school club in utilizing their placement there to evangelize children.
They use those children to recruit and proselytize to other kids. When you have something like that, when you look at the purpose of having after school clubs, there is a lot of need for there to be activities through the schools. No matter what that is.
It is also a form of childcare as well. A lot of parents rely on after school programs to take care of one extra half hour or 45 minutes for after the school day to go to work and then come and get their kids.
What we have been seeing with the Good News Clubs, the childhood evangelism fellowship has a goal. They have a goal to get into the school system. It is where children see things as “I go here to learn. Anything that I learn here is true.”
They also use these school teachers the children are dealing with during the day and then they have them as the teachers leading the Good News Club at night. The kids are not differentiating between school fact and what they are learning at the Good News Club.
We are talking about old school people who believe in fire, hell, damnation. They are teaching the concept of sin. If you disobey or if you don’t do something that you’re supposed to, then it is a sin. You can go to hell for sinning.
These are the things children are learning. That was made possible by the Supreme Court because the school grounds are a limited public forum and these groups have every right to be there to express for their First Amendment rights.
The After School Club is meant to contrast and provide a program based on science, logic, reason, and to teach the curriculum developed by people who have Master’s degrees in education. One of them through Harvard University.
It is meant to not be a religious teaching program, but one developing kids’ ability to understand empathy, reason, critical thinking, logic, science, and learning about the world. We feel that by being able to provide that; it is something the parents have the ability to decide, “I want my kid to be in an after school program, but not evangelized and taught that they will burn in hell forever if they sin.”
They can have a kid in a program like ours, which teaches the opposite and is the opposite. We are not proselytizing. We are merely providing an alternative.
Jacobsen: In the United States, the major fault line is not stated as often as it should be, especially around the efforts to repeal things, e.g., primarily women’s bodies. It is particularly women’s rights that are under attack. They have been for a long time.
I note a lot of the attacks in the United States with the Trump Administration have been attempts to restrict the access women have to abortion clinics and the various forms of reproductive healthcare, especially the women who tend to most need it: Native American women, African American women, and poor white women, in general.
I know there are clinics that are more plentiful than abortion clinics, for instance, which are, essentially, Christian centres that work to talk women out of getting abortions in the first place or to provide misinformation, so an individual woman can make an informed consenting decision about what to do with her body.
What are same counter forms of activism TST is providing along these lines as well? Because this is a very serious area of human rights violations.
Webber: They had this court case going back-and-forth with this one member (TST). They were standing up for a girl who was giving out pamphlets, which she had to review. They would not give her care. Unless, she reviewed these documents, which were stating their values, e.g., “Life begins at conception,” etc.
Blythe: What TST has done in the realm of reproductive rights is utilizing our own tenets of our body as inviolable subject to our own will alone and basing our care based on the best scientific knowledge available, we have exempted ourselves from some things our state has mandated onto us and for our ability to have access to this medical care, which we feel is not only scientifically illiterate but unnecessary for that care, so violating our religious tenets.
So, in the case of Missouri, where we had the two cases for reproductive rights, they have a 72-hour mandatory waiting period. Plus, they have to give anybody seeking an abortion a reading of state propaganda (basically) with life beginning at conception and that getting an abortion is against “Creator.”
It is shaming women out of making a decision. This is what you were talking about earlier with these pregnancy crisis centres. They pose themselves as being medical centres. They provide ultrasounds.
They say that they’re a clinic for anyone who is pregnant, but they’re truly set up of people of strong religious persuasion. Their entire goal and mission is to prevent women from making informed decisions.
They shame them into making a different decision about their medical care, which they would otherwise would not if they had access to actual medical information. Essentially, it is state-mandated ‘information,’ giving scientifically illiterate information.
We don’t need the 72 hours to contemplate this information, which we know to be false. We should not be subject to reading the information. We should not be subject to have the 72-hour mandatory waiting period, which is the excuse they use to have it.
Saying, “No, I am making a medical decision for myself. You are going to give me this procedure now.” We had two members of TST who gave the exemption letter. We have the exemption letter. It is available online and anyone can review those if you want to see what those look like.
But we’re saying, “Because of our religious views, we are exempt from these rules.” So, one of them is a case still in the court system delayed because of coronavirus. It is in legal limbo. Everyone is in legal limbo.
Also, there are fetal burial laws. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with those. Indiana and Arkansas have passed laws requiring healthcare facilities to bury or cremate fetal remains. That would be any fetal remains, even an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage.
They are requiring at the women’s expense or the care facilities expense to treat this tissue as an individual and requiring us to treat the tissue as an individual to get burial or cremation rather than seeing it as medical waste and being disposed of as such.
We’ve created an exemption [Ed. many exemptions extant here: https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/rrr-campaigns] to that as well. Because it violates our religious beliefs that this tissue is separate from our bodies and treat it based on the best scientific knowledge that we have rather than treating it as a religious ritual, acknowledging it as fetal tissue.
For a fetal burial, it is fetal tissue. We will treat it as medical waste. Also, the State cannot make mandates that we have a religious ritual for something that we aren’t acknowledging or otherwise wouldn’t do so.
Those are some things that we have done about this encroaching or this barrage of these Evangelical senators and lawmakers coming in and telling women, and people of childbearing potentia,l what they can and cannot do with their bodies and medical care.
Jacobsen: This is a remarkable level of encroachment.
Blythe: Oh, it’s more, a violation not encroachment.
Jacobsen: The mentality sounds as if not only that women are lesser than, but the idea that women are unable to make an independent choice. It’s the idea that women aren’t rational, moral independent actors. It requires all this infrastructure, “Are you sure?”
All of these are the question, “Are you sure?”, in various forms.
Webber: I experienced this for the past five years trying to get my tubes tied. They keep telling me that I’m too young. I should wait. I said to them, “People younger than me can make the decision to have a child, which is a lifelong decision.”
Jacobsen: [Laughing] That’s a brilliant response.
Webber: I’m 30 now. I’m going to go back and give it another try.
Blythe: I had a really bad health emergency. Essentially, I was growing a tumour the size of my fist inside of my uterus. For the longest time, I said, “Get the hysterectomy, I don’t want children. I’ve been saying it for years.”
I’ve known this since I was in my 20s. Every single time, I go to my gynecologist. I make sure that he noted every single time when I got my annual, “I do not wish to have biological children. I will, at some point, when you guys allow me to, make me permanently unable to have children. I made this choice. I know what I’m talking about.”
They refuse. It is always age. It is always, “You’ll change your mind.” I started developing a tumour. I started to bleed to death leading to hemorrhage. I wanted them to do a procedure, a hysterectomy. They refused. They did an embolization, which ended up saving my life.
The reason they did that because “You’re still so young. You may want childrens ome day.” It’s like: The embolization was killing part of my uterus. The tumour is no longer growing, but I still will develop cancer.
I’ll have to get examined for a very long time for the tumour to grow back. Then they will eventually let me get a hysterectomy. But when I was in a state of actively dying, I asked them to save my life with a hysterectomy.
But they did it so I kept some of my uterus. With the embolization, I can get pregnant, but the damage to my uterus is so bad. I could get a miscarriage and bleed to death from that. Again, whether it’s our decisions to end a pregnancy or to make it so we do not have a pregnancy, it’s too full.
You cannot make these decisions when you get to this state, a pregnancy. But we are not going to provide any education in the system and make it difficult to get contraception or sex education.
It is a disservice and even more of a disservice of whatever community; the racial disparity and access in education is absolutely devastating.
Jacobsen: This ties very well – and thank you both for sharing – into an entertaining and effective of activism to combat these that, I think, The Satanic Temple does better than anyone in the United States. One has to do with the Ten Commandments in big old stone tablets followed by a statue of Baphomet. We’ll cover that next.
But the representation of the fetus as a fetish or a fetish item, or an object of fetishization. This was a brilliant presentation around adults who are members of TST or friends of; I’m not sure who was who.
They were dressed up with baby faces, diapers, pouring milk on one another, and making whining noises that would simulate something like a crying baby or a newborn, for instance.
These are dramatic. These are artistic. These are very effective because they force the question. “Why do they do this?” I think Chalice, you were part of it.
Blythe: Those were two demonstrations by the former Detroit chapter. Those were the brainchild of the Detroit chapter. It is no longer a chapter. They are a friend of. With the departure of Jex Blackmore, that chapter went dormant and no longer existed.
It was a collective effort of a chapter that no longer exists. I could get you in contact with the person who created those, Shiva Honey. She was the mastermind behind those demonstrations. They are more localized chapters that made demonstrations.
They were incredibly effective. So when we talk about activism, especially with what TST has done in the past or what we are currently doing, I think we are very good at having two different types of conversations.
It is making a point in two different ways. One is making a point via the theatricals. You have the women and milk. These are shocking. They shock your senses and make you ask, “What the fuck are they doing?”
Blythe: Whether you like the answer or not, it paints another type of imagery onto an issue that makes people uncomfortable. It makes them, maybe, not see their righteous standpoint on something as pure as they think it is; the fetishization of babies, the idea behind them, Shiva could probably speak more eloquently about it.
The results of having that image, especially because there were counter-protests to the events, like at Planned Parenthood. You have these demonstrators who say, “Killing babies is wrong.” They are putting up these images of fetuses.
They are exalting them and fetishizing them. They are turning them into something that they are not. They are facing the reality of what they were doing not from their view or just our view. They were distraught and didn’t like it.
They saw what they were doing to people just trying to get access to reproductive care. Also, another thing of activism or asserting our rights with the exemption letters, our members asserting rights, and affirming their beliefs in the tenets, and having the ability to not be as subjected to State or federal mandated violation of our rights based on another person’s viewpoint.
That’s how we do it. It is the visual and the practical fields to it.
Jacobsen: You only hope you could save some costs by living near to a dairy farm or something.
Blythe: [Laughing] It’s very expensive.
Jacobsen: It’s not only a violation of women’s bodies. I think you’re right to correct me earlier. It’s not just an encroachment. It’s a violation.
Also, it is making the State a tool of a particular religion and only one interpretation of that particular religion in order to violate women’s rights.
Blythe: That’s part of Project Blitz. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it.
Jacobsen: What is Project Blitz?
Blythe: It is a group effort by people of the Evangelical persuasion to institute laws, bills, basically through the legal system, to advance their point of view. So, why are all these bills being passed?
States are taking each others’ bills, “This bill was able to get passed.” It is, basically, a playbook of benign measures of getting things passed and under the radar. So, people aren’t aware this is happening
All of a sudden. They try to do something like have access to certain medical care. Women need access to abortion or contraceptives. Then it becomes an “In God We Trust” thing. They add up. You Google “Project Blitz.” It is a real thing.
These are commonplace. They are religious people affecting everyday Americans, even people of a Christian or theistic viewpoint and aren’t even Evangelical. It is very smart, viciously smart, by making America theocratic bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece.
Jacobsen: That’s the theocratic impulse.
Blythe: Yes, so, they pass bills to gain foothold in states and then mis-use religious freedom to justify discrimination and use this to tear down separation of church and state. Then they establish America as a Christian nation. That’s the goal.
Jacobsen: It’s easy to tear down a wall when you’re playing Jenga and taking it down bit-by-bit. I’m not surprised. When you look at the Discovery Institute, they had the Wedge Strategy document.
It was to try to ram through a (battering) ram to skip all academic procedure by going from expert professorial research down to graduate and undergraduate students and down to high school level in order to develop robust educational programs, in this case biology.
They decided to go straight to the high schools with Intelligent Design or Intelligent Design Creationism. Some of the big names on that were Philip Johnson who died last September, William Dembski who formed the information theoretic form of it, and Michael Behe who formed the molecular biology form of it.
It seems as if the same form with the attempts to ram through and make a lot of these moves a lot easier. I think this is a very effective and insidious form of imposing theocracy. It can go down to the community level too with members of community googling your name and stuff like this.
Blythe: The reason this violation exists is because we have this saying; we’ve come to know of this Project Blitz, “It is a very subtle and very slow-moving, but effective, way to create supremacy where we live.”
You pass things. You use your religious freedom; you mis-use it. It is using it to justify discrimination, then you tear down the separation of church and state to establish the Christian nation. Part of the reason we do the things we do – and to some of the history, we are Satanists and are a religious group.
When we see these things and it affects us, our ability to be religious people and to practice our religion freely, and to be able to live our lives according to our tenets. We can’t do nothing. So, that’s what separates us from other satanic organizations.
We get compared to the Church of Satan all of the time. But we are more active; Project Blitz is a good reason why we fight things the way we do. If it is the law, then it doesn’t mean it is holy, right, or just.
It doesn’t mean that it isn’t a violation of our freedoms and our right to be religious people. So, when religious people are asserting their religious rights and the “right” religious people, then you come in to re-evaluate if you want to open those doors.
Because they will do anything to keep us out. In that, they also start to affirm the separation between church and state. That’s why they coined the term “Lucien’s Law.” It is the idea of when you see a certain group coming in and trying to break down the doors of church and state.
Then you bring in the Satanists. Then they will re-evaluate if they want that privilege under the guise of religious freedom because that means freedom for everyone. You talked about the Baphomet statue. That’s a good example.
Seeing the encroachment on the public square, Satanists say, “All or nothing. Either representation of all creeds, colours, religions, faiths, representing the people in their differences and nuances, or you don’t allow for that representation to be there at all. Then you do your thing, which is not the business of religion.”
So, we try to erect a Baphomet statue. All of the sudden, everyone is wondering, “Do we want religious symbols on state property?”
Jacobsen: How much did the Baphomet statue cost?
Blythe: Wow – it was a lot. It is a full bronze statue. I can give you a ballpark. I don’t have an exact figure. It was well over $100,000. It is beautiful. I don’t know if you have been able to see it. Once the headquarters in Salem open up, I would recommend seeing it.
It is a big beautiful bronze statue. It is a sight to see. That much bronze is expensive [Laughing]. You have to pay the artist too.
Jacobsen: For any millionaires wanting to donate money, there are many states needing more statues of Baphomet.
Blythe: Yes, I was going to say. We have the mold still, so we could probably create replicas a little bit cheaper than the original.
Blythe: So, if we want, we could make more.
Jacobsen: What was the reaction from Christians and fellow Satanists about the statue of Baphomet? I think it’s great.
Webber: I loved it. I remember when it was behind in the shed. You could go out back. They open the shed doors. There was Baphomet sitting behind a shiny door. The art is gorgeous. It is impressive. You can see it. You can sit on its lap!
Blythe: You can do a lot of things on that lap.
Blythe: I remember seeing the original drawings and the concept art that they were releasing prior to it being on the bill. I am really upset that I couldn’t make it to the unveiling, because being unable to see it in public for the first time and for what it represented.
It is one of the most unique pieces of art that exists, but it is a unique piece of art that has so much power behind it. It is not just appreciating the art itself. It is appreciating what it represents. The first time I got to see the Baphomet statue was in Salem.
Not to sound corny, it made me cry a bit. Not only was I seeing this beautiful piece of art by Satanists, I was also seeing the symbol of the struggle Satanists go through in society in the era of Evangelical violation.
To know, the reaction of the Baphomet statue since it was unveiled. In Detroit, there was death threats. There were people harassing people going to the unveiling. There were bomb threats. All these folks descending upon where the first checkpoint was; they were crying.
They were seeing this as some symbol of the End Times. They had to fight as if us versus them, Christians versus Satanists, because they built a statue. Still, people are absolutely horrified. They see Baphomet as this symbol of evil.
Not based on our actual beliefs, but based on their preconceived notion of what a Satanist is, if they are confronted by a goat figure; people have always associated goats with evil and it’s an icky animal.
They are so besides themselves that there are children. It justifies, in their mind, that there is some kind of overall conspiracy that we’re trying to come after their children and stuff like that. They put so much of their own viewpoints and their own biases, and their own views of the world onto this piece of art.
Whereas, from a Satanist point of view, it is just beautiful. It is a representation of seeing this and the craftsmanship going into it. It is these children seeing this and not being afraid. It is what we see in the world.
Just being different doesn’t mean it is bad, because I am a Satanist, it doesn’t mean that I am bad. Obviously, there were very stark differences to the reactions to it. But it’s a fucking amazing piece of art [Laughing], at the end of the day.
In Arkansas, there is a lawsuit going on right now. We’re part of that. We could always get you in contact with our legal people who could talk about the legal nuances of the lawsuits.
Jacobsen: Please do, that’s where the rubber hits the road.
Blythe: Same thing, they erected – Arkansas – a Ten Commandments statue. We applied to erect our own Baphomet. That’s been a headache. People see it. They don’t like the statue.
Jacobsen: I remember talking to Stu de Haan and Michelle Shortt [Ed. also, Sebastian Simpson of another chapter] a couple to a few years ago. One thing stands out from the interview, surely. It had to do with this notion that when Christian nationalists of various forms try to impose something on the rest of the population.
They get rejected or the proposal or policy is denied. They don’t get what they want or only get 99% of what they want: They play the victim. I believe I posed this as a question. Michelle and Stu responded, ‘100%, if they don’t get immediately what they want, they immediately play the victim.’
It is one of the ultimate ironies because it is coming out of a social and political persuasion that demonizes anyone taking a victim stance. It becomes a political and social platform, and theology, and projecting that victim status outward. Have you come across this as well?
Blythe: Yes, of course, we see it all the time. Other people asserting their rights see it as an attack against the majority. I don’t really know how much more I could add to that. So, they’ve had this position upholding this supremacy.
Then you have a minority utilizing this to uphold their own rights. But since the worldview is different, it is not right or wrong here. It’s about different. They see themselves as a victim. They want to see themselves as a victim and us affirming our rights as an attack, when we have been the ones attacked the entire time.
It is as though they are seeing how their own tactics are seen from the other viewpoint. Where, they have created this infrastructure where they benefit. But when someone else benefits from it, they say, “No, no, no, that wasn’t supposed to happen.”
So seeing what we’re doing as an attack, they’re not actual victims. Nothing is being taken away from them. By their own framework and by their own actions, because they want to inhibit us, whatever they want to put in place for us to be equals in whatever instance, they want to take that away.
They become victims. They do whatever they can to keep us from having our rights. Sometimes, this means taking away what they put in place to give them an advantage. It is this weird thing. They are not victims. They are not being attacked.
Whatever victimhood, whatever viewpoint that they have, it is not in reality. It is of their own choosing. They are choosing to be upset. It is not based on anything that we’re doing against them. We’re not doing anything against the Christians or those with a Christian viewpoint.
We are standing up for ourselves and things that would inhibit our ability to enact equality.
Jacobsen: The overall framework that I’m getting from that: If you have all the ordinary rights everyone should have set up while others do not have equal rights in every domain, then the attempts to get equal rights in those domains lacking, like the Satanists and others; that move towards equality can feel like an attack.
Blythe: We’re seeing that with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Jacobsen: Right, it is interpreted as only black lives matter. That’s where these phrases like All Lives Matter come out or these weird takes like Blue Lives Matter, as we all know it is a professional suit and not a skin or ethnic marker.
So, on that note, how are the Satanists part of some of the social movements we’ve been seeing active?
Blythe: So, TST came out with a statement on that. We’re not making this about us. We get asked, “What is TST doing about Black Lives Matter?” The answer is, “We’re not making this about us.” We’re not making this about religion.
As an organization, the things that we get involved with in any legal issues or matters has to do with the fact that it has to do with religious people. We keep it within that framework. But Black Lives Matter is not a religious issue, but a human rights issue.
It is something affecting black communities. We don’t want to be a distraction or to paint more targets on the backs of members of the black community, and other Satanists. It is not TST specific. Satanists as a whole are doing what they can to uplift voices in the black community, whether showing up at the protest or contributing funds to some of the legal aids or some of the victim funds to some who lost their lives.
They are doing it in a way that is not a distraction. That’s why you’re not seeing big banners of “TST!” at the protest because it is a distraction and makes it about our identity rather than what this is about, which is the black community and police brutality and their right to not be killed indiscriminately.
Jade and I can talk about what we have personally done. I don’t know if Jade wants to share.
Jacobsen: Please do.
Webber: Albany, there have been the protests happening nearby. We’re going to go out nearby and provide cleanup to any of the businesses needing cleanup after the fact. Because there has been some destruction.
Speaking on All Lives Matter, when we had the Boston Marathon bombing, they used to say, “Boston city strong.” They didn’t say, “Oh! All cities strong.”
Webber: That’s my biggest argument back when it happens. It is just because it is black lives that it is offensive. In a sense, it is racist.
Blythe: Saying, “All Lives Matter,” is more silencing of their voices, it is more of an insult. It is one more thing, and it’s not the point [Laughing]. We have different members and different chapters. One of the reasons behind that, this comes to why we recruit and don’t proselytize to people.
You have this event, Black Lives Matter. What they are trying to accomplish and what they are trying to talk about is unique to them, this is their discussion. This is their crying out, “Stop killing us.” They already have targets on their backs.
This is part of the overall problem. They already have targets. What benefit would it be with Satanists that we’re trying to deal with on the side? We have our own issues. People believing in ritual Satanic abuse. That we do terrible things.
We’ve got our baggage. None of these things are true. But these are things we fight in our own territory, on our own time, in our own way. The last thing that this community, which is already dealing with discrimination and loss of life, needs is for us to bring our baggage into it.
Anyone who is trying to find an excuse with “All Lives Matter.” Or, they are trying to say, “You’re just a bunch of thugs, who want to destroy property.” Black Lives Matter is this event. They want something simple.
They want to let the world know something is affecting this community, how unjust it is, and want it to change. They don’t want the distracting conversation of “We saw Satanists over here. So, you guys must be this, and this, and this.”
We have asked the black community. What we have been told, “Don’t be a distraction. Do not point more targets on our backs. Be an effective ally. Do what you can to uphold our voices and be known.”
That’s why you see a lot of us sharing things on social media. We have individuals and chapters going out to help with cleanups and even showing up to protests. Putting themselves between them and the police, as body guards.
We are doing the same stuff, but not under the Satanist banner. Otherwise, it would be making it about us and our identity, not about them and the issue that they’re trying to talk about. I’ll send you the statement.
Jacobsen: What are other areas that we have not quite explored or that you have not had explored in an interview?
Blythe: [Laughing] It depends. I’ve done so many different types of interviews and covered so many different types of things. It is nice doing an interview with someone who is a self-identified Satanist [Ed. card-carrying]. I haven’t had to justify why we’re a religion during this conversation, which is nice.
Blythe: Jade was talking about Albany. Albany is doing a bunch of other cool things. Because they’re a great fucking chapter. My history with TST. I have been with TST since 2014. I founded the chapter in Utah.
Then I became a member of the International Council. Then I was doing that for four years. I have been a part of a lot of chapters. I have been the spoiled brat of International Council, as I have been over some of the most amazing chapters that TST has ever seen or will see.
Albany is one of them. They do a lot of good things. They’ve got leadership and Jade here, and Shannon who you’ve talked to. Some of the most brilliant leaders we have; you guys, they get shit done. I would like to give her the opportunity to talk about Albany and what they’re doing.
Webber: We run the Menstruatin’ With Satan, where we collect feminine hygiene products for those who menstruate and donate them to Equinox, which is a women’s shelter down our way. They distribute the products to those in need.
Also, we do a toys for children drive during the Christmas months. We did the Brimstone Initiative, which is distributing care packages to the homeless. So, they have the essentials that they would need living life without a home.
Those are part of the projects. We are trying to get a strip of highway. They don’t want to say The Satanic Temple is part of the highway.
Webber: We’re getting a little pushback from New York [Laughing].
Jacobsen: If one looks at the United States, it’s an outlier. Most every other advanced economy, industrial society, provides either healthcare or pharmacare, or these sorts of things.
The universal access is standard in most industrialized societies, wealthy ones. If the United State provided to such universal access, would these kinds of drives be needed?
Blythe: That’s an excellent question. Maybe, you can tell us about living in Canada.
Jacobsen: Ah, yes!
Jacobsen: I forgot about that.
Blythe: I think the problems we face in America are uniquely American. It doesn’t mean it is necessarily a good thing. We have our struggles. I think that there are other societies as well. We have chapters all over the world now. Different chapters, we have one in Ottawa.
Jacobsen: That’s right! I did read about that.
Blythe: One of the things that we learned being international and crossing American borders. The Satanic Temple is a uniquely American organization because our founders are American. A lot of things that we do are based on the struggles in our American setup.
Our struggles are not only our identities as Satanists, but also asserting our rights in everyday life. It depends on where you’re at. I think that would be a really good question for people who run chapters outside of the US.
Because they can give an example of things outside of the US, “Those are their struggles. Here are our struggles.” Being a religious minority as a religious Satanist is a struggle no matter where you are, no matter how secular or religious the country is.
Even in Ottawa, there is pushback. When the Ottawa chapter did an event, they got so much pushback. They had a really strong reaction, strong negative reaction, by the people in Ottawa.
Jacobsen: You have to bear in mind. In Canada, so, it is somewhere between the United Kingdom and America, even on particularized beliefs dependent on larger structures, e.g., thinking human beings and all things in the world were created less than 10,000 years ago.
~¼ of Canadians believe this. There is a hunk, probably smaller than Americans, who believe in UFOs, ghosts, a literal Devil. Some of my favourite, they find one number believes in heaven, which is significant.
Yet, a smaller percent believe in hell. So, it is a very selective, positive theology. It reflects the demographics of the country. Some 2/3rds of the country [Ed. number statistically found has less now.], even in Indigenous (Inuit, First Nations, Metis) communities, identify as Christian of some form.
That’s the legacy of colonization. It is infused in the culture here as well. I do not see as virulent a form of it as in the United States. Part of it is probably the corporate backing. We have places like Rebel Media and Ezra Levant who pose themselves as journalists, but amount to propagandists for various rightwing arms of things.
It is the same for Fox News, Breitbart, Stormfront, and others. They tie themselves to religious ideologies. I know in the United States. A guy who was connected with Jim Jones, actually. I have done some interviews with people who have left.
It is about the tragedy and triumph through healing of some of their lives. It was around the WWII Healing Revival Movement. The Western world collapsed, people were looking for answers. White dudes came in to give them answers proposing themselves as prophets of God.
His name was William Branham [Ed. See Triumph Through Tribulation: William Branham’s Theology In and Out (2020) with former member and author John Collins].
So, he had deep ties to the KKK. He was a main influence on Jim Jones, therefore the People’s Temple. We know how that turned out. Similarly, we see those ideologies turning out. But they have been exported.
I think, in Canada, we have some of that around white supremacist, neo-Nazi groups. They are particularly virulent in the United States because of the political power a lot of the times. They have a history of making their ideology policy.
You can have semi-/demi-/hemi-black supremacists like Louis Farrakhan, but he talks big. He doesn’t really have the power to make policy or have a history of lynching. So, it’s a lot more virulent of an ideology tied to religious faith.
It is a big stew that a lot of this is in, but, at the end of the day, I think the major marker or divide is a battle over women’s bodies or women’s bodily autonomy. Because that’s how they pass on all of their values.
Women are to have lots of kids and only be in the home raising the kids by religious force or coercion, or fear of hell. In Canada, it is less like that, but it’s still a problem. I’m not surprised about the Ottawa chapter of TST.
It is a big porous, huge border. It is the orange line, at this point.
Blythe: Yes, we’re unique. That’s for sure. Given everything, I can say, “We’re unique.”
Jacobsen: So, the obvious question, “How can people get involved?”
Blythe: They can go to our website, which is www.thesatanictemple.com. They can find all sorts of information about how to locate chapters, can find out what we’re doing in the big national campaigns such as Grey Faction, Religious Reproductive Rights, After School Satan.
They can go to www.shopsatan.com. They can get some cool swag and support our legal efforts because lawyers are not cheap. There are also places there where they can help donate as well. If they like our cause, if they like what we’re about, even if they are not a Satanist, Jade, how do they get ahold of the Albany chapter?
Webber: So, we’re right at the top of the list.
Webber: We get a lot of interesting emails. We are right at the top of the list. On www.thesatanictemple.com, we have a list of the chapters. You can find the different ones posted there. We have all our contact information there. We can’t pay the Illuminati, sorry! [Laughing]
Blythe: Yes, sorry, we can’t even pay ourselves.
Jacobsen: Any books, authors, speakers, to recommend?
Webber: A book came out on how TST is changing religion and how we look at it. I just got it. It is pretty interesting.
Blythe: There’s also the Hail Satan? documentary that came out. It is accessible via Hulu or Netflix depending on where you’re at. But if people are more interested in where The Satanic Temple gets its framework of not only the religious identity, the tenets, and the background, if you go to Albany’s website, they have a book list.
It is probably one of the most comprehensive book lists I’ve seen compiled for TST. It covers TST and Satanism in general. It has videos or books relating to certain campaigns. There’s stuff in there about what Grey Faction does, or After School Satan.
You can get yourself acquainted with that. There’s a great book by Katherine Stewart called The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. You can find out everything about Good News Clubs and why After School Satan exists.
Albany would be the most comprehensive book list for things that we generally recommend for people.
Jacobsen: Thank you, it was lovely.
*Associates and resources listing last updated May 31, 2020.*
Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
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Image Credit: The Satanic Temple.