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The Satanic Temple makes plans to come to Oklahoma schools

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - The Satanic Temple announced official plans Friday to participate in Oklahoma's release for religious instruction law for public school students. The law would take effect in November. Oklahoma State Department of Education Superintendent Ryan Walters reacted to the announcement.

"I'm going to clear this up. No, the Satanists are not coming into our schools. Satanism is not a religion," said Walters.

"We are in fact a religious organization, we've been found to be such by not only the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) but a federal ruling has upheld that standing," said Spokesperson for The Satanic Temple Lucien Greaves.

Representative Clay Staires, R-Skiatook, is the original author of the law that was signed last week by Governor Stitt.

| READ MORE > Oklahoma’s new school framework allows for new Satanic Temple classes >

He told KFOR that it is a framework needed for parents and educators after a Marietta school teacher was hit with a lawsuit when attempting to do something similar.

"The problem there was one, a teacher was involved and two, it was done in the school," said Rep. Staires.

The framework is that students are allowed to go off-campus for religious instruction credits. They can do so up to three periods a week and up to 125 periods a school year.

Rep. Staires told KFOR that it is up to the school's board to decide what organization can participate.

So far KFOR has spoken with two groups, one of which is The Satanic Temple, and the other is LifeWise Academy which called itself a non-denominational Christian organization.

The Satanic Temple has come out saying that they will most certainly participate. So, what if a school rejects them but accepts another? Would that not mean a lawsuit?

"So, just because they say they are going to do something, does that actually mean they will. We're talking about a hypothetical. I would love to have this conversation in the future," said Rep. Staires.

The Satanic Temple announces interest in starting instructional program. {TST}
The Satanic Temple announced interest in starting an instructional program. {TST}

"Oh no, we're very serious. In fact, we've gone through the efforts," said Greaves. "We have after school clubs, we worked with people in education to build curriculums. We've thought long and hard about the lessons we want taught."

Saturday afternoon The Satanic Temple put out a sign up sheet for what they are calling their Hellion Academy of Independent Learning (HAIL).

"The Satanic Temple believes that public schools should be entirely free from religious influence. Nevertheless, if other religious groups insist on forcing their way into our schools through legislation, we will ensure our members' children enjoy the same opportunities as those of other religious backgrounds. Staring in November, Oklahoma parents interested in religious and morality classes for their students can invite The Satanic Temple's HAIL program to their local public schools."

The Satanic Temple

The Satanic Temple is not to be confused with The Church of Satan. The Temple states that, "We have publicly confronted hate groups, fought for the abolition of corporal punishment in public schools, applied for equal representation when religious installations are placed on public property, provided religious exemption and legal protection against laws that unscientifically restrict people's reproductive autonomy, exposed harmful pseudo-scientific practitioners in mental health care, organized clubs alongside other religious after-school clubs in schools besieged by proselytizing organizations, and engaged in other advocacy in accordance with our tenets."

| READ MORE > ‘We will put Satanists in the schools’: The Satanic Temple to send ministers to OK if bill allowing school chaplains is signed into law >

"They will not be recognized by our State Department of Education. You are not a religion, Satanists," said Superintendent Walters. "I know that you guys like lying and that's a central part of your belief system but you will not be participating with our schools."

"So again, he's speaking with absolutely zero knowledge. This is wishful thinking that he's basing his proclamation upon," responded Greaves. "We are a religious organization and at least in principal, this is exactly what we can do. Them standing at a podium and saying otherwise isn't going to change that at all.'

Rep. Staires told KFOR that the framework was set up so that religious organizations can participate if the parents make the decision.

However when he was asked about the potential for several lawsuits, he said that question had nothing to do with the framework and that it was a hypothetical.

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