CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The announcement of an ‘After School Satan Club’ club at a Chesapeake primary school caused concerned parents to reach out to 10 On Your Side to investigate — so we did.
A flyer advertising the club started circulating on social media promoting the club, which is set to launch at B.M. Williams Primary School on Dec. 15.
“We are non-theistic,” said Rose Bastet, a volunteer organizing the new club. “I understand the apprehension behind the satanic name, but he is just an imaginary figure that we look to because he is the eternal rebel that fought for justice and humanity.”
According to the organizers of the After School Satan Club, this all started when an email promoting the Evangelical Good News Club came to parents from B.M. Williams Principal Brighid Gates back in September. A flyer came along with it, describing the Bible and scripture lessons that are a part of the club.
That’s when National Campaign Director for the After School Satan Club June Everett says she got a call from a school parent asking them to start a club at a school.
“We like to go to schools where there are other religious clubs operating we do know that we went to cause a stir. That is absolutely not a goal,” Everett said.
The point of the club is to offer an alternative to Christian-based groups, Everett said. “The initial shock is always like, ‘Oh my God, Satan!’ We do have our deeply held religious beliefs, which are our seven tenants. If you look them over, it’s essentially, ‘be a good person.”
Everett says she got approval from the school to start the club, but that they won’t distribute the permission slip and flyer for it via email as they did with the Good News Club. The school has yet to comment on that.
The school district did, however, share with us a letter sent to parents from Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton.
In the statement sent to members of the CPS community, Cotton clarified his intent to “maintain transparency.”
Cotton confirmed that the school district approved a building use request from an organization known as the “After School Satan Club” (ASSC) to host gatherings after school hours at B.M. Williams Primary School on North Battlefield Boulevard. The request was approved since the club met the criteria under CPS Board policy regarding community use of facilities.
However, Cotton noted that the ASSC is not a school district-approved club, and no district employee is sponsoring the club.
“The School Board does not approve building use forms and has not voted in this case,” said Cotton.
He also reminded community members of the school district’s long-held policies and procedures allowing varied community groups to use publicly funded facilities outside of the school day.
“This is common practice among school districts around the state and nation. Over the years, different religious groups have requested and been allowed to rent our facilities after hours,” said Cotton. “By law, CPS cannot discriminate based on beliefs among groups wishing to rent our facilities.”
Cotton stated the issue has been added to the agenda in the upcoming school board meeting set for Dec. 12. Community members wishing to speak at the meeting can sign up HERE.
However, Everett says the school board cannot vote on or make any decision related to whether the club is allowed to function.
“This is really out of the hands of the board,” she said. “The board doesn’t really get to decide, under constitutional law, who has access and who doesn’t. So while I appreciate that they are letting concerned community members come in and vent, it’s really out of their hands.”
Everett pointed to the Supreme Court decision in 2001’s Good News v. Milford Central School case. The court ruled then that a school district cannot limit the First Amendment rights of groups wanting access to a school.
“Even if you don’t like us, we’re part of what makes the United States a great country, where you can believe what you want to believe or not,” she said.