The Satanic Temple in the United States of America (USA) has been officially recognised by the government as a new religion.
This earns the religion the right to tax exemption, just like other religious bodies across the US and other parts of the world.
The controversial religion is headquartered in Massachusetts in a house that was formerly used as a funeral home.
“This is our primary events room,” said Lucien Greaves, co-founder and spokesman of the Satanic Temple. “We weekly have people get together here; I guess you would say congregate.”
The temple becomes one of the first religions in the world to declare it’s allegiance to Satan, a being believed to be the cause of evil in the world. However, they deny worshiping Satan. The ‘Church’ yard has even has a small library with significant works of Satanic literature and history.
The religion does not recognise terms used in the ordinary religion like holy and spiritual, or even existence of a supernatural being, God.
“Words like ‘spiritual’ or “holy,” I think — one of the first things that people need to realize about us is that we don’t advocate for any supernatural beliefs. We’re a nontheistic religion. We don’t subscribe to supernatural explanations or accept them as legitimate,” Greaves said.
He explains that while members of the Satanic Temple see the mythological, and literary, figure of Satan as a symbol of rebellion against tyranny.
“This idea of worship, it’s usually kind of insulting to people who identify with Satanism, because that implies a sense of servility. Satanism is about personal sovereignty and independence and freedom of will,” he said.
Satanic Temple entails a group of political activists who identify themselves as a religious sect, and are now seeking to establish After-School Satan clubs as a counterpart to fundamentalist Christian Good News Clubs.
Like other countries in the world, the United States has no state church and no religious bureaucracy. However, some countries like England and Finland have state churches while in China there are only five recognised religions.
This means that in the US, it is the sole responsibility of the Internal Revenue Service to decide whether a group is a religious organisation to be exempted from tax or not.
It is reported that the Satanic Temple has over 20 chapters across the US, and affiliate groups in Canada, Australia, Germany, and the UK, with more seeking approval.
“In a way, the Satanic Temple has enjoyed such expansive, explosive growth because of the rise of the theocratic right in the United States. Our expansive membership numbers are a response to the Trump administration and Pence being vice president. People are horrified,” says Lucien.
The Temple is built on seven tenets, including personal freedom, including the freedom to offend, the pursuit of justice, and the value of scientific understanding.
“Strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason,” reads its first tenet.
The Temple has been in existence for over six years.