Florida legislation would allow Satanists to volunteer in schools

A pair of bills in the Florida State Legislature could allow Satanic priests to volunteer in Florida schools. Senate Bill 1044, and companion House Bill 931, let public schools allow volunteer chaplains to provide student counseling services.

"We are empowering the school districts to make decisions that are in the best interest of their children, in their communities, and setting the requirements that they feel would be necessary to protect their children and make sure that any type of counseling is legitimate counseling," explained Fl. Sen. Gayle Harrell.

However, under the US Constitution, the state can't dictate which religious groups are eligible to volunteer. That would open the door for groups like the Satanic Temple to allow their clergy to provide services to students. 

"Religious liberty really means that the government needs to remain neutral when it comes to which religions they allow and which religions they don't. They can allow religion in places, but they can't distinguish between religions," said Lucien Greaves, a spokesperson for the Satanic Temple.


The organization operates nationwide and is a registered, tax-exempt religious group, the same as any church. To be clear, these Satanists don't actually dress in black robes or worship a biblical devil. Instead, the Satanic Temple advocates for the separation of church and state and champions the ideals of the US Constitution.

Greaves said these bills were just another way to slip religion into the classroom. "They don't need to use the schools yet again as another culture war battleground, but if they are going to open up schools to chaplains, they have to be neutral about which religious points of view are available to children as chaplains."

The bill would let parents select a chaplain for their student from a list of possible volunteers, and all would undergo thorough background checks. 

"The community is vetting what these chaplains are, and the leaders they are in their in the community and the parent has the ability, knowing the reputation of that individual person, to determine whether or not they want their child to speak with them," said Fl. Sen. Erin Grall.

The bills are still moving through the Florida Legislature. If passed, they'll go into effect July 1. If the bill passes and districts refuse to let Satanists volunteer, Greaves said they would see them in court. He said it would be a waste of taxpayers' time and money. 
"They should also not want to waste public funds on a lawsuit that's certainly going to lose because of some superfluous effort to put chaplains in schools on a false rationale."