The Satanic Temple is a nontheistic religious and human rights group based in the United States, with additional chapters in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. The group uses Satanic imagery to promote egalitarianism, social justice, and the separation of church and state, supporting their mission "to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people". The group was co-founded by Lucien Greaves, the organization's spokesperson, and Malcolm Jarry. The Satanic Temple has utilized satire, theatrical ploys, humor, and legal action in their public campaigns to "generate attention and prompt people to reevaluate fears and perceptions", and to "highlight religious hypocrisy and encroachment on religious freedom".
The organization's participation in public affairs includes political actions as well as lobbying efforts, with a focus on exposing Christian privilege when it interferes with personal religious freedom. It considers marriage a religious sacrament that should be governed under the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty which should prevail over state laws. Because the group regards inviolability of the body as a key doctrine, it also views all restrictions on abortion, including mandatory waiting periods, as an infringement on the rights of Satanists to practice their religion.
The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan; instead it employs the literary Satan as a metaphor to promote pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity. Satan is thus used as a symbol representing "the eternal rebel" against arbitrary authority and social norms.
Cofounders Greaves and Jarry met in 2012, and The Satanic Temple was active by January 2013.In an interview with The New York Times, Malcolm Jarry stated that the idea of starting a Satanic faith-based organization was first conceived to meet "all the Bush administration's criteria for receiving funds, but was repugnant to them". The idea was inspired by then–president George W. Bush's formation of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The Satanic Temple opened its official headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts, in 2016. The former Victorian funeral home is painted charcoal and doubles as the Salem Art Gallery.
On 25 April 2019, the Temple announced it had received tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, being classified as a "church or a convention or association of churches." The Satanic Temple had previously been reluctant to pursue tax-exempt status until the Johnson Amendment was weakened by an executive order "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty" signed by President Trump in May 2017.
Announcing the new tax status, Greaves stated: "In light of theocratic assaults upon the Separation of Church and State in the legislative effort to establish a codified place of privilege for one religious viewpoint, we feel that accepting religious tax exemption — rather than renouncing in protest — can help us to better assert our claims to equal access and exemption while laying to rest any suspicion that we don’t meet the qualifications of a true religious organization. Satanism is here to stay."
Membership in The Satanic Temple is free and open to anyone and can be obtained by signing up on the official website. Membership cards can be purchased for $25. Additionally, members can apply to join local chapters, though according to Draco Ignis and Hofman A Turing, members of the NYC chapter, the requirements for each chapter may differ. "If there's a local chapter where you are, to join you do have to be accepted, but there's no initiation or anything. You don't even have to be a Satanist, you can just be a strong ally who believes in the political and secular actions without being super stoked about all the aesthetic aspects."
Membership is subject to renewal, revocation, or termination "for a member's failure to conduct him or herself in a manner consistent with the spirit of The Satanic Temple and its tenets." The 2019 documentary film Hail Satan? mentions the expulsion of a member who used a TST event to call for violence against (then-president) Donald Trump.
Comparison to LaVeyan Satanism
Lucien Greaves has described the Temple as being a progressive and updated version of LaVey's Satanism. The Temple views itself as separate and distinct from its forerunner, representing "a natural evolution in Satanic thought". Greaves has said that the elements of Social Darwinism and Nietzscheanism within LaVeyan Satanism are incongruent with game theory, reciprocal altruism, and cognitive science. He has also criticized the LaVeyan Church of Satan for its lack of political lobbying and what he sees as their exclusivity, referring to them as autocratic and hierarchical, and saying that the Church fetishizes authoritarianism. Conversely, the Church of Satan has made statements claiming that The Satanic Temple are only "masquerading as Satanists" and do not represent Satanism.