A new application for the controversial “Satan club” at a Chesapeake elementary school has been submitted, after the original local sponsor withdrew her name.
School Board Chairman Harry Murphy said Tuesday morning that the application for the club, hosted by The Satanic Temple, had been withdrawn. Within hours, local club volunteer Rose Bastet said a new application had been submitted to the school district.
News of the club began circulating online last week, as a flyer inviting children at B.M. Williams Primary in Chesapeake to “have fun at after-school Satan Club” made the rounds on social media. Critics planned to protest at an upcoming School Board meeting and on the planned first meeting day of the club. Prayer groups were organized and on Sunday, a group of about 40 parishioners recited the rosary, led by pastors from St. Benedict’s, outside the B.M. Williams school.
The school district had approved the building use request but stressed that the club was not affiliated with the school. Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton sent out a message last week stating: “By law, [Chesapeake Public Schools] cannot discriminate based on beliefs among groups wishing to rent our facilities.”
Jeremy Rodden, a Chesapeake resident who made an unsuccessful bid for School Board in the most recent election, posted a message on his Facebook account Tuesday morning about the club.
“I have been credited as being responsible for bringing the After School Satan Club to BM Williams here in Chesapeake. I am not. However, I do know those who are. Due to this, I have been contacted by community leaders throughout the city over the last few days regarding the club.”
Rodden passed along the following message that he said the original club sponsor asked him to share:
“Due to the heightened emotional situation in our city following the recent tragic mass shooting at the Walmart off of Battlefield, I am removing my name from the lease agreement for the After School Satan Club. I do not want more division in our city as we strive to heal and are still reeling from this great loss of life.”
Bastet said several local residents stepped up to sponsor the club after the original sponsor withdrew her name. Club organizers are unsure whether the change in sponsorship will delay the process or affect their original planned first meeting date of Dec. 15.
After the original sponsor withdrew her name from the application, Cotton sent a message out to community members saying the application no longer met the requirement’s of the district’s policy.
“At this point, the approval for building use has been canceled,” he wrote.
He noted the item will still be on the agenda for discussion at the School Board’s regular meeting on Dec. 12.
A spokesman for the district said school officials are still determining the status of the new application.
The Satanic Temple is a nontheistic religious organization formed about a decade ago. Its members do not believe in Satan as a real entity, but rather as a literary symbol of standing up to tyrannical authority, club organizers said. Planned club activities had included such things as arts and crafts, puzzles and science projects.
Nour Habib, firstname.lastname@example.org