Community members showed up to the school board meeting in opposition to the club. York Daily Record reported that one resident stated, "So nobody benefits from having an After School Satan Club, whether it be those who are against them, or those who are in favor of them because Satan always does harm all the time. That, philosophically, has been proven."
Following the denial, the Satanic Temple filed a lawsuit against the district in May, reported WHP-TV. The superintendent cited potential backlash as a reason that the organization's request was denied.
Matthew Kezhaya, general counsel for the Satanic Temple, told WHP-TV that the district violated their rights. Kezhaya claimed, "The First Amendment prohibits a government from considering the popularity of communicative activity when determining whether to facilitate that communicative activity on equal terms with other, similarly situated, groups."
What is the Satanic Temple?
The TST's website describes itself as "the primary religious Satanic organization in the world with congregations internationally, and a number of high-profile public campaigns designed to preserve and advance secularism and individual liberties."
The Satanic Temple prioritizes applying for "equal representation when religious installations are placed on public property, provided religious exemption and legal protection against laws that unscientifically restrict peoples's reproductive autonomy, exposed harmful pseudo-scientific practitioners in mental health care, organized clubs alongside other religious after-school clubs in schools besieged by proselytizing organizations, and engaged in other advocacy in accordance with our tenets."
According to the TST website, the organization does not believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural. It read, "To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions."
The Satanic Temple's website described the After School Satan Club as a "program that promotes self-directed education by supporting the intellectual and creative interests of students." It stated that the club does not aim to convert children to Satanism, but rather to "focus on free inquiry and rationalism" and "to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors."
What is the fundraiser event?
June Everett, an ordained minister with the TST, told the Daily Caller News Foundation, "We are super excited to be hosting a Back to School Community Celebration and Fundraiser at Northern High School on September 24th." Everett continued, "This will be a fun evening for all ages from all beliefs and backgrounds who may not have felt comfortable attending the 'Back To School Worship and Prayer Night' that was held at the same school on Saturday August 20th."
According to the event flyer, the evening will feature arts and crafts, science experiments, and live demos. The fundraiser hosted by the Satanic Temple Philadelphia and Eastern PA will donate proceeds "back to a local Dillsburg community organization."
The fundraiser will be a three-hour event that will cost the TST $1,050 to rent the space and an additional $135 in custodial, security, and auditorium technician fees.
Why did the district approve the event?
Northern York County School District superintendent Steve Kirkpatrick released a statement on the district's website addressing why the event was approved. Kirkpatrick stated they were required to approve the fundraiser according to the district's own policy.
Kirkpatrick said, "As a public school district, the use of our school facilities must be permitted without discrimination. We cannot and do not arbitrarily pick and choose which organizations may or may not use our facilities. If we allow one organization, we must allow all organizations."
The superintendent explained that the district's approval of the request "does not endorse the activity of any outside organization."