A Pennsylvania school district is suing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for banning an After School Satan Club that was initially approved by school officials.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, says the Saucon Valley School District initially accepted the club, citing that they could not discriminate against ASSC-sponsored The Satanic Temple (TST) in seeking access to district facilities. The district later revoked access after an outcry from others, who claimed the club’s sponsor violated a policy requiring the teams’ use of off-campus facilities not to “interfere with the educational program of the schools.”
The ACLU of Pennsylvania says the return violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.
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The Baphomet statue is seen in the conversion room of the Satanic Temple in Salem, Massachusetts on October 8, 2019. (JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claims that SVSD’s refusal to grant ASSC equal access to school facilities provides a “heckler’s veto” to those who do not share the group’s religious views, even though the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from engaging in speech based on the objections or reactions of others. censorship,” the ACLU said in a March 30 press release.
Sara Rose, deputy director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, charged that the district’s actions set a “dangerous precedent” for refusing to shield controversial opinions from censorship.
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In this photo illustration, the American Civil Liberties Union logo is displayed on a smartphone. (Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
“The First Amendment protects the expression of unpopular or controversial opinions from government censorship. When the district opened school facilities for outside use, the First Amendment required equal access to all groups, regardless of their religious beliefs or viewpoints,” he said in a press release.
The release also notes that the school district’s claim that the After-School Satan Club’s permits were revoked was based on the club’s failure to clarify that the club was not sponsored by the district itself, but “the lawsuit finds that claim to be pretextual and discriminatory.”
The ACLU cited other religious clubs and groups, including primarily Christian organizations, that are allowed to gather in neighborhood facilities.
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The Satanic Temple’s statue of Baphomet was based on a drawing by occultist Éliphas Lévi, pictured above in a German museum. (Image alliance via Getty Images)
June, director of ASSC programming at the Satanic Temple in Everett, complained that the ban would send a “discriminatory message” to students who hold different beliefs than their peers.
“The After School Satan Club provides a critical space for students who may feel out of place in other after-school religious clubs,” the press release said, adding, “By banning the ASSC from meeting on school facilities, the district is sending a discriminatory message to the club’s students. , that they are secondary and do not deserve the same opportunities as their peers.”
The Satanic Temple’s complaint “seeks emergency and permanent injunctions against the district, as well as compensatory and nominal damages and attorneys’ fees.”
Fox News Digital reached out to the Saucon Valley School District superintendent and the ACLU for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
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Taylor Penley is a production assistant at Fox News.