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Lebanon school district responds after granting facility use to ‘Satan Club’

The club will meet in an elementary school within the district.
The club will meet in an elementary school within the district.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 5:18 PM EST
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WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A satanic club hosted within Lebanon City Schools has generated enough concern among parents that the district felt compelled on Thursday to respond.

A flyer circulating on social media invites students to “The After-School Satan Club” promising “science projects,” “puzzles and games,” “arts and crafts projects” and “nature activities.”

The club is a chapter of The Satanic Temple, a multinational nonprofit that bills itself as a “nontheistic religious and human rights group.”

Per the flyer, the club will hold four gatherings through the spring semester at Donovan Elementary School. All children grades 1-5 are invited to attend regardless of religious background.

Parental permission is required to attend. Superintendent Isaac Seevers says the same is true of every after-school activity in the district.

He clarifies the club is not sponsored by the district or Donovan Elementary.

Seevers published a letter Thursday to families aiming to address “concerns and confusion” about the club.

The district, he writes, recently approved a facilities rental for the group after a Lebanon resident completed the required application and provided the necessary documentation.

“The district has approved these types of groups in the past, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism program,” Seevers wrote. “The Good News Club has met after school at Donovan Elementary School for years.”

The superintendent makes clear that Lebanon Schools “does not and is not legally allowed to discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religiously affiliated groups.”

Seevers references Good News Club v. Milford Central School, a US Supreme Court case from 2001.

The ruling held that, under the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause, a religious group—The Good News Club—cannot be denied use of a public school’s facilities after hours when those same facilities are available to other groups promoting similar issues.

Public schools effectively must act with a blindfold—i.e. without “viewpoint discrimination”—when granting facility use to clubs with purposes ranging from religious celebration to moral edification to character development.

Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the opinion for the 6-3 majority, which comprised the court’s entire conservative voting block including Chief Justice William Renquist and Justice Antonin Scalia.

“Either the district’s facilities are to be made available to all groups or to no groups,” Seevers wrote paraphrasing the ruling.

He later clarified the district does not “endorse the actives or intent of [The After-School Satan Club] or any other religiously affiliated groups offering after-school activities on our campuses. […]The district has no other involvement in this program except for the approval of the rental of the space.”

Seevers does note flyers and promotional materials for after-school groups such as The Good News Club and The Satanic Temple After-School Satan Club are not approved for mass distribution and cannot be sent home with students. They may be posted for display only.

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