TYLER, Texas (KETK) — As it poured outside Friday afternoon, some East Texans prayed before a “nebaptism event” that was planned in Tyler by a Satanic temple in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“I wanted to get a group of people together to come down before the event tomorrow and just pray and exercise our freedom of religion,” said Lauren Ettredge-Langas, a member of Church of the Pines in Tyler.
For context, the satanic templedespite its name, does not worship the biblical figure – or even believe in Satan exists – but operates as more of an advocacy group, saying it aims to “promote empathy, reject tyrannical power,” in addition to promoting “common sense” and “opposing injustice.” The group has made many legal challenges to (often conservative) laws that can only protect or promote Christianity, such as The hill reports.
The Satanic Temple is often confused with the earlier Church of Satan, founded in the 1960s, with which the Temple is not aligned, according to its website. Most of all, the Temple has protested against LGBTQ lawmakers and organizations and challenges GOP abortion banssaying the bans violate his beliefs that only people have the right to make decisions about their own bodies.
According to its website, the Temple says “unbaptism” is an activity in which “participants renounce superstitions that may have been imposed on them without their consent as a child” — essentially religious beliefs that adults want to part with.
Still, some local church members in Tyler said they felt called to gather Friday.
“As Christians, we are called to a spiritual battlefield, and I think this is an opportunity to exercise our strength in our relationship with Christ,” Ettredge-Langas explained.
Members of the nearby WOW Church said they were unaware of the prayer gathering, but still felt called to invite pastors to the plaza after hearing about the temple’s event.
“We didn’t come to be militant, we didn’t come to bash anybody’s religion, but we wanted to stand as believers and pray,” WOW Church Pastor Donnell Walder said.
Ethredge-Langas says she expects some church groups to emerge to confront Temple members.
What does the Satanic Temple believe?
The Satanic Temple says it has seven basic principles:
- One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all beings in accordance with reason.
- The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that must prevail over laws and institutions.
- A person’s body is inviolable, subject only to his own will.
- The freedoms of others must be respected, including the freedom to offend. Deliberate and unjust encroachment on the liberties of another is a denial of one’s own.
- Beliefs must conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world. One must be careful never to twist scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.
- People are wrong. If a person makes a mistake, they should do everything possible to correct it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
- Each principle is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom and justice must always prevail over the written or spoken word.