Jul 28, 2014

Satanists Seek to Exploit Hobby Lobby Ruling

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

The Satanic Temple has carved out quite a niche for itself in the fight for First Amendment protections, capitalizing on Satan's pariah status as it exploits legal loopholes and bad rulings that cater to Christian extremists. Last I heard they were riling up some Oklahomans by attempting to slip a giant statue of Baphomet onto State Capitol grounds, using the same "private funding" excuse used by the ten commandment enthusiasts who placed their own monstrosity.

Now, in light of the stunningly horrible Hobby Lobby ruling, the Satanic Temple is taking the opportunity they believe the Supreme Court has opened up to defy laws on the basis of religious belief. Has your state passed laws restricting abortion access and requiring doctors to regale women with unscientific claims about the dangers of abortion? These Satanists claim that junk science and restrictions on personal liberty are against their religion... and probably most people's. Therefore, they are making printable letters available to women everywhere whose religious belief in bodily autonomy precludes their being lectured about how abortion may land them in the mental ward.

Informed consent or “right to know” laws state that women seeking elective abortions be provided with information about alternatives to the procedure, often couched in language that attempts to personify the fetus. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 35 states currently have informed consent laws, and of those, 33 require that the woman be told the gestational age of the fetus.

In some states, that information consists of pro-life propaganda that links abortion to a higher incidence of breast and ovarian cancers, or discusses “post-abortion syndrome,” a mental condition not recognized by any major medical or psychiatric organization.

Because the Satanic Temple bases its belief “regarding personal health…on the best scientific understanding of the world, regardless of the religious or political beliefs of others,” it claims that state-mandated information with no basis in scientific fact violates its “religious” beliefs.

There's a certain irony to what the Satanic Temple is attempting here. On the one hand, the Hobby Lobby decision allows businesses to insert their owners' religious beliefs between employees and their doctors even when those beliefs have no basis in fact, such as claiming that some forms of birth control are abortifacients when they're not. Their religious belief says they are and that's enough for the Supreme Court. The Satanic Temple is calling on women to deny laws that insert similarly counter-factual claims between women and their doctors on the basis that their religion calls for accurate medical definitions.

Previous campaigns by the Satanic Temple have targeted other outrageous abuses of liberty from school prayer to the Westboro Baptists.

The Satanic Temple, sometimes referred to as “the nicest Satanic cult in the world,” falls somewhere between satire, performance art, and activism. The group says its central mission is to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.” It has a set of seven tenets that closely track with humanism. Typically, wherever issues of church and state are overlapping, the Satanic Temple isn’t far behind.

Members of the Satanic Temple first made national headlines when they rallied in support of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) for approving a bill that allows prayer in public schools, saying they’re glad the new policy will allow children to pray to Satan. Since then, they’ve also held “a formal ceremony celebrating same-sex unions” on the grave of the mother of the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, declaring that she has posthumously become a lesbian, and commissioned a seven-foot-tall Satanic statue near a monument to the Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

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