I’ve never been the kind of person to commit to a religion.
In middle school, I thought I might become a Catholic nun because it looked a lot less scary than trying to figure out how sex worked. I don’t actually remember why I changed my mind, but I bet it had something to do with hitting the later stages of puberty.
In high school, I learned about Hinduism in a World Religions class and found myself wholly convinced by the concept- but I couldn’t stick it as a vegetarian, which at the time I thought was a requirement. It didn’t feel right to claim to practice a religion and only pick and choose the parts I wanted to follow, so I bailed on the whole idea. (Despite this, deep down I still believe that Hinduism is the most legit of the Big Religions. But I digress.)
In college, I wanted to marry a guy who wanted to be a rabbi, and so I was fully ready to convert to Judaism. What ultimately happened was that I learned how to make hamantaschen, got my heart broken so badly that I dropped out of college, and then the guy in question never even became a rabbi. I reconsidered converting to Judaism again when I met my now-husband, but I would’ve been a JINO (Jew In Name Only) and neither of us thought that was a good idea on a spiritual level.
And then last year, I did a more in-depth spiritual self-evaluation and realized that I was an atheist.
As you might expect, I figured that was the culmination of my spiritual journey and the end of my involvement in any sort of organized religion.
But this past week, my husband and I became card-carrying members of The Satanic Temple. Funny how life works out, isn’t it?
(The Satanic Temple, by the way, is not to be confused with the Church of Satan. Those guys are assholes, full stop.)
I actually first learned about The Satanic Temple quite a while ago, and had been flirting with the idea of signing up since that point. The only reason I didn’t was for the same reason that it took me so long to say anything when I realized I was an atheist- because people are so judgmental. They hear you’re an atheist and they assume you like to eat babies. They hear you’re a Satanist, and they assume that you like to eat babies alive. (Or is it raw? I’ll ask at the next meeting.)
But 2020 really robbed me of the last few fucks I gave about what anyone thought of me, so rolling into 2021 I figured I might as well start wearing my convictions on my sleeve.
Setting aside any trepidation over incoming accusations of being a baby-eater or an edgelord or whatever else, I truly think the Seven Fundamental Tenets of The Satanic Temple are just about the most admirable set of convictions a human being can have.
And more importantly, all seven tenets are things that I already believed in before I ever heard of The Satanic Temple.
Hearing the gospel and being convinced by a new religion is all well and good- but in my case, I wasn’t convinced into Satanism so much as I found out that it espoused the principles by which I was already trying to live my life. Truly, a match made in
I’ll close out with an explanation of the Satanic tenets, and why I think each of them reflects the best practice for a life well-lived.
(I’d say “Hail Satan” as a sign-off, but I’m not sure I could do it with a straight face. Luckily, I’m pretty sure it’s not a requirement.)
Seven Fundamental Tenets of The Satanic Temple
I. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.
That’s a no-brainer, right? Be kind and don’t hurt anyone- but within reason. It’s still okay to punch a Nazi if you meet one. And it’s still okay to eat animal products, in my view- I consider the food chain to be part of the natural order and (sustainably) accepting our place within it to be a way of honoring nature.
II. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
Fuck da police, you feel me? But more seriously, if there’s anything I’ve come to believe in recent years, it’s that I have a moral responsibility- a moral imperative, really- to stand up for justice and equality, and to stand against injustice, bigotry, discrimination, etc. Even if it means getting tossed in jail for civil disobedience- if doing the right thing is against the law, then fuck that law.
III. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
Yep. This applies to bodily autonomy in terms of abortion rights, or sexual consent, or whatever else- the point is that it’s my body and it’s my choice, end of discussion.
IV. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one’s own.
Just as I would refuse to let someone else control me or infringe upon my beliefs, so too is it wrong for me to do the same to others. As long as you’re not hurting or oppressing anyone (see the previous Tenets), do whatever you want. It’s none of my business, even if I don’t like it.
V. Beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.
YES. THANK YOU. SERIOUSLY. If I started listing the unscientific bullshit that people use as an excuse to hurt and to oppress and to control, we’d be here all freaking day. Anti-intellectualism is, in my opinion, the greatest threat to our current society- so any religion that specifically exalts science is alright in my book.
VI. People are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one’s best to rectify it and resolve any harm that might have been caused.
Nobody’s perfect, but try your best and fix things if you mess up. That’s pretty much Being A Good Person 101, isn’t it?
VII. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.
Perhaps the most important ideal, and the one missing from almost any other organized religion that I’m familiar with- the freedom to use my own judgment. I don’t need to take any rule too seriously- I know what doing the right thing looks like. Ultimately, the best thing to do in any given scenario is whatever I think is the most compassionate, wise, and just- regardless of anything else I might take into consideration.