Satan Clubs, Drag Queens, and the Limits of Modern Conservative Principles

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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A kerfuffle erupted in Chesapeake, VA, a few days ago when the “Satanic Temple” filed an application with Chesapeake Public Schools to organize an “After School Satan Club” (ASSC) at B. M. Williams Primary School.

According to the Satanists’ “campaign director” and “ordained minister” June Everett, “The Satanic Temple does not worship the devil. We are not demons. We do not believe in demons, because neither exists.” She went on to say, “Schools are supposed to be incubators of democracy.”

(As an aside, the purpose of education has nothing to do with being an “incubator of democracy,” its purpose is to form minds, academically and morally for responsible citizenship.)

The chief Satanist spokesman, Lucien Greaves, went on Jesse Watters’ Fox News show to defend the effort to start a Satanist club for elementary school kids.

During that interview, he said, “You need to ask yourself if your distaste over us identifying as Satanists is strong enough that you would abandon the principles of free speech and religious liberty.”

The school apparatchiks took this all under advisement, but it is safe to say that the ASSC will meet sometime shortly after school returns from Christmas.

My colleague, Cameron Arcand, posted about this episode in Satanist Defends After School Club by Twisting Conservative Principles.

Let’s be serious; to one degree or another, the Satanists are just trolling and attention whoring. They cast their “Satanism” as non-theistic but nonetheless want to be considered a religion; this gives them First Amendment cover. They made the application as a reaction to a Christian “Good News Club” starting up because they know that if the school district refuses to allow them to meet, they must put school facilities off limits to all clubs no matter what their objective. This lets them get the attention they crave by holding other school clubs hostage. Having said that, I would disagree with Cameron’s conclusion. In fact, I would argue that starting an ASSC epitomizes the modern libertarian brand of conservatism working exactly as intended.

We never get tired of dragging the goofy David French over his defense of drag queen story hour at the public library as a “blessing of liberty,” but the ASSC is the same sort of blessing. In French’s view, half-naked cross-dressers cavorting with young kids, just like a Satanist club in your local school, is a validation of freedom and liberty and not a symptom of a very sick society that uses public spaces to legally sexualize and groom kids or serve as counter-programming to The Almighty. Modern conservatism supports all manner of anti-social behaviors — pornography, gay marriage, homosexuality, and transgenderism, to name only a few — simply because it lacks the guts to say something is wrong and harmful and should not be tolerated by society. I suspect conservatives will fall in line with the campaigns to legalize or decriminalize Schedule I drugs and recognize “minor-attracted persons” as a legitimate sexual orientation.

Indeed, in a debate on the subject, French makes the case that all viewpoints are equal and then, bizarrely, states that he doesn’t endorse the viewpoint he’s de facto endorsing.

It doesn’t really work that way. If you endorse the presence of a social ill for the sake of “free speech and freedom of association,” you are tacitly endorsing the result. To be clear, it is no more appropriate to take your kid to a “drag queen story hour” or any other drag event than it would be to take them to a topless bar (read the whole thread).

At least at a topless bar, they wouldn’t be exposed to some kind of caricature of what women look like.

Conservatism, as it exists today when it isn’t an overt grift, tends to be a weak and spineless philosophy that believes in nothing more than “tolerance.” In that way, it has become sort of the Unitarian Church of political philosophies. It holds no beliefs deeper than “you be you, dude.” If modern conservatism has any organizing principle beyond licentiousness, it is tolerance. Conservatives are so tolerant that they mumble “muh private business” when social media companies stomp on their ability to speak and criticize Elon Musk when he uses the same rules against progressives that they used against us. Instead of “standing athwart history, yelling Stop,” we find leading conservatives today fully aligned with progressive trends, simply differing from the liberal consensus on how fast we should move.

One of my favorite Catholic clerics, Archbishop (retired) Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, has said this about tolerance:

“We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty — these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it’s never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil. Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square — peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.”

Tolerating grave evil within society is not a “blessing of liberty”; it is material cooperation with evil. It is also scandalous — here I’m using a very specific meaning of the word — because every time a weak-kneed conservative supports one of these grotesque events out of a misguided belief in tolerance, we give the impression to the public that we don’t object.

However, just because a Satanist club is approved, that doesn’t mean kids will actually show up to take part. There is a difference between drag queen story hour being scheduled at your local library and anyone going to it. Parents and communities need to make their presence known at these venues and object because these activities are wrong and have been wrong throughout history. No amount of tolerance makes them appropriate or harmless.

The descent from liberty to license was something the Founders were well aware of and tried to ensure would not happen. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Publius, thought in this case to be James Madison, writing in Federalist 55, observed, “Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.” Both understood a cowardly, supine, or dissolute people would inevitably lose the right to self-government. This right could only be retained through a morality formed by religion. This simple fact has been lost on most of America.

The only sure defense against a school board being flummoxed by a grifter seeking to troll them is to create parallel institutions where morality is taught and enforced. But it isn’t enough to withdraw from society; we must organize to “peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment” oppose this nonsense and reclaim our country from the people trying to destroy it.


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