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Orange County

Capistrano Unified Under Fire for Approving Satanic Club at Truman Benedict Elementary School

A San Clemente public school now hosts an After School Satan Club soliciting children aged 5-12, despite community disapproval.

In a move that has shocked parents and drawn national media attention, San Clemente’s Truman Benedict Elementary School now hosts the Satanic Temple’s After School Satan Club (ASSC). This has, understandably, ignited a firestorm of controversy and raised serious questions about Capistrano Unified School District’s application system and the process by which satanic groups are authorized to organize in elementary schools.

The After School Satan Club claims to be “a safe and inclusive alternative to the religious clubs” for children between 5 and 12 years old. But the Satanic Temple itself is classified as a religious organization, and the only argument given for why it should be allowed to exist is because of protections afforded to such religious organizations.

“Because the School District grants the use of facilities to religious organizations that are recognized as such by the Internal Revenue Service, we are required to provide the same access to school facilities that other comparable organizations receive,” said Capistrano Unified School District Board Member Ryan Burris during a recent CUSD Board meeting.

However, this defense does little to assuage the concerns of parents who fear the club’s name and association could be disturbing or inappropriate for young children.

School clubs, especially those meeting on public school grounds and make use of facilities, must undergo an application process to ensure they meet certain educational and ethical standards. Behind every school club is a school administrator who processed and approved its application. This begs the following questions; who approved the application for a satanic club at Truman Benedict Elementary School? Did they take the application to the Superintendent or the Board before issuing the permit? Did they not foresee the community disturbance? Was it wise to allow the satanic club to begin facilities use before the Board, as well as the public who elects the Board’s members, had a chance to weigh in?

The Capistrano Unified School District Agreement for the Use of Facilities Terms and Conditions outlines the application process and includes stipulations that allow the Superintendent, under the authority of the Board, to “deny the use of or cancel any permit for use of school facilities to anyone or any organization if the activity negatively reflects upon any citizen because of race,

creed, color,” and so forth. 

There is a clear argument to be made that the After School Satan Club does, in fact, employ activities that negatively reflect upon citizens based on creed. Their site is littered with demeaning remarks about other faiths and outright mocks, or at least misconstrues, belief systems in language such as “ASSC exists to provide a safe and inclusive alternative to the religious clubs that use threats of eternal damnation to convert school children,” and “we prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors.”

Furthermore, CUSD’s Terms and Conditions also authorize the school administrator to deny facility use if the club “[creates] a condition causing a disturbance or pose a safety hazard.” Based on the sheer volume of news coverage and community feedback thus far, there has been something of a disturbance already. 

“It is an extremely dangerous thing to normalize satanic worship, normalize children being near satanic worshippers, or normalize teaching children to harbor such blatant animosity for their Christian peers and family,” said writer and podcaster Kira Davis, previously a candidate for a seat on CUSD’s Board. 

“None of this belongs in a school, even if it’s after hours.”

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