Pennsylvania Joins Virginia In Allowing School Satan Club Meetings

A federal court decided on Monday that teenagers in a Pennsylvania school district had the right to form an After School Satan Club. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) hailed the ruling as a "victory for free speech and religious freedom," declaring that the Saucon Valley School District must allow the After School Satan Club to meet in district premises.

An ACLU-shared filing from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Monday stated that the judge had ruled that "here, although The Satanic Temple, Inc.'s objectors may challenge the sanctity of this controversially named organization, the sanctity of the First Amendment's protections must prevail." 

The lawsuit states that the school district must allow the After School Satan Club, sponsored by The Satanic Temple, to meet on three predetermined occasions throughout the school year, but that it is not required to provide pupils with permission slips for the club to take home. 

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, and Dechert LLP filed suit in March on behalf of The Satanic Temple against the school district, claiming the district violated the First Amendment by banning the club's use of district facilities for club meetings.

Because permission slips didn't specify that the club wasn't district-sponsored, the district claimed it had the right to ban it. 

The government's first inclination should be to advance expression rather than stifle it when faced with a threat to free speech. Especially if the subject matter is contentious or uncomfortable. Nothing less would be compatible with the stated goal of the American government to preserve the fundamental, inalienable rights of its people, Judge John M. Gallagher wrote in his opinion on Monday.

Earlier this year, a similar dispute made news in Virginia, but ultimately led to the approval of an After School Satan Club.

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