The online posting said children would participate in science projects, puzzles, games, arts and crafts projects and nature activities. It also said children would learn benevolence and empathy, critical thinking, problem solving, creative expression and personal sovereignty.
Many Lebanon residents expressed anger that a group named for Satan would be allowed at the school.
Seevers said the school district is not legally allowed to discriminate against any groups who wish to rent its facilities, including religiously-affiliated groups. Seevers said district’s focus remains on student safety and student achievement, and the district has no other involvement except for the approval of the rental of the space.
District officials said a local resident and taxpayer of Lebanon City Schools contacted The Satanic Temple and requested that they begin a chapter in Lebanon and to start the after-school club. Officials said the outside group completed the required application, the facility use agreement, and provided the necessary documentation, and were approved.
The group’s online posting said the clubs are taught by volunteer teachers who have cleared criminal background checks and have been vetted by The Satanic Temple for professionalism.
Seevers’ letter said the district has approved other religiously-affiliated groups, including the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism program. The Good News Club has met after school at Donovan Elementary School for years.
According to the district, The Satanic Temple After-School Satan Club intends to meet at public schools where Good News Clubs also operate.
“Either the district’s facilities are to be made available to all groups or to no groups, according to a 2001 Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Good News Club, citing if public schools rent their facilities to secular groups, they must also rent to religious groups,” Seevers’ letter said.
He also said flyers and promotional materials for these types of groups (including The Good News Club and The Satanic Temple After-School Satan Club) are approved for posting or display only, and not for mass distribution. Flyers will not be sent home with students. Students will need signed, parental permission to attend this or any other after-school event or club, the district said.
Tom Isaacs, superintendent of the Warren County Educational Service Center, said he was not aware of similar meetings in other county school districts. He also said no outside organizations are permitted to use ESC facilities.