A Satanist Temple Is Now Fighting for Women's Right to Choose


The news: Feminists have a strange new ally: devil-worshippers.

The New York-based Satanic Temple is asking for donations to fund a lawsuit over laws pushed by the religious right that require women to be subjected to medically inaccurate or misleading literature before they receive an abortion.

According to the satanists' logic, the U.S. Supreme Court's Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision created an opt-out to providing female birth control for closely-held corporations whose operators incorrectly insist that IUDs and morning-after pills are abortifacients. The Satantic Temple claims to have deeply-held religious beliefs based on scientific evidence that would be violated equally if they were forced to read informed consent literature that isn't before getting an abortion. Some of the misleading literature says abortions cause mental health issues or cancer. Other informed consent laws force doctors to guilt patients into believing they are terminating a "whole, separate, unique, living human being." Thirty-five states require women to undergo "counseling" before getting an abortion.

"While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact," the Satanists said in a statement. "We expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state­ mandated 'informational' material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them."

Who are these friendly Satanists? The Satanic Temple was profiled this month by the Village Voice, which described it as something of a mix of satire, trolling, performance art and real philosophical and cultural viewpoints which together form the basis of an atheist religion. Because of their liberal activism, members of the older Church of Satan accuse them of making other Satanists look ridiculous (uh huh).

Will their plan work? It's honestly pretty unlikely. But as Salon's Katie McDonough observes, this is precisely what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was talking about when she said the Hobby Lobby ruling had "ventured into a minefield." Now that anyone can plausibly claim a religious exemption to any number of laws, the courts are sure to be deluged with nonsensical claims about religious rights. While the conservative wing of the Supreme Court was quite happy to apply that logic for a Christian plaintiff, now judges across the country will have to deal with groups like the Satanic Temple.

"The good thing about what the Temple is doing is that it's making people really examine their own beliefs and really examine the rationale for the state or federal government being in the business of religion or monuments," Oklahoma ACLU legal director Brady Henderson told the Atlantic. "And that's something that is a very healthy thing."