The Satanic Temple, a New-York-based religious group, is to build its first chapter house in Detroit, where it will perform services such as marriages, including same-sex, and funerals. It says the sacrificing of people or animals will not take place.
Detroit was picked as a location for the flagship chapter house because of its “underdog” reputation and history of nurturing rebellious underground artistic communities, Satanic Temple founder Doug Mesner, aka “Lucien Greaves,” told the Detroit Metro Times.
The chapter house’s location, as well as the opening day, are still to be decided, said Mesner, who was born and raised in Detroit.
A 32-year-old woman known as “Jex Blackmore” will be heading operations at the Detroit premises. Mesner explained that members are encouraged to use pseudonyms rather than their real names, as they get “a lot in the way of death threats and that kind of thing.”
Blackmore said the temple is considering several properties, and preference will be given to the place where everyone feels safe and comfortable.
“If it doesn’t meet the needs of our members to be public, then we might make a decision to make a private location. We would prefer not to do that, though,” she said.
The plan is to open the chapter house to the public during certain scheduled hours. It will provide literature for visitors, as well as a meeting space, and perform traditional services like marriages and funerals.
According to Blackmore, the temple also seeks to offer same-sex marriage ceremonies in Michigan, where gay marriages have been put on hold awaiting the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals decision. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Blackmore said the Satanic Temple was hoping to use the same-sex marriage issue to challenge the law on the grounds of religious freedom.
Earlier, the controversial group sparked quite a stir among the public when it announced it wanted to erect a seven-foot tall statue of Satan near the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The proposed sketch suggested that the temple wanted to depict Satan as a goat-headed Baphoment figure with a long beard, horns, and wings, with a pentagram design placed overhead. Two smiling children would be placed both sides of the statue.
However, the group’s leaders say they do not worship Satan.
“We believe in a metaphorical, literary construct of Satan,” Blackmore said. “He’s a symbol for rebellion, a symbol of human nature, the thirst for knowledge.”
In Mesner’s words, the difference between the Satanic Temple and other places of worship is that it promotes “a distinction between religion and superstition.”
“We don’t endorse supernatural explanations of the world. We do, however, have a community that has shared values and aesthetic and symbolic structures and practice that provides all the necessary elements of a religion,” he added.
The group also underlined that it is purely peaceful and does not practice any kind of sacrificing of animals or humans.
“The idea of sacrifice specifically is to appease some demon or some god, and that’s a supernatural belief that we don’t subscribe to,” Blackmore told the Detroit Free Press.
The temple currently has about 20 members in Detroit – its first chapter out of 15 to be announced in the near future.