A US group known as the Satanic Temple has approached several public school districts, spruiking after-school Satan programs.
The national group, which is based in Salem, Massachusetts, wants to counter well-funded fundamentalist Christian organisations that it says are eroding the separation of church and state in public schools.
Its co-founder, Lucien Greaves, told the Associated Press that the after-school program would show “that people can be of different religious opinions and still be moral, upright people.”
“We think that when kids are being exposed to the idea that they will burn in hell and other supernatural ideas, that there is a positive upshot to being exposed to the presence of a satanic afterschool program,” he said.
According to the group’s website, the ‘Educatin' with Satan’ program will focus on the concepts of “critical reasoning, independent-thinking, fun and free thought”.
Several school districts said they were reviewing the group’s request and noted their facilities were available to community groups.
Utah’s Granite School District said that if the group met its requirements, including paying rent, there was nothing the district can do to stop it.
Springfield Public Schools in Missouri also said it was reviewing the group's request. It noted that granting requests to use the district's taxpayer-funded facilities “does not constitute the district's endorsement”.
The Satanic Temple has taken up similar causes outside schools, including seeking to install an 8½-foot-tall bronze statue of Satan at the Oklahoma Capitol to stand in contrast to a Ten Commandments monument. Oklahoma's Supreme Court later banned all religious displays on Capitol grounds.
The group is seeking to do the same outside Arkansas' statehouse, where a Ten Commandments monument has been proposed.