A Satanist organization has successfully convinced a school district to adjust their dress code, arguing the limitations were discriminatory against Satanists.
Media, Pennsylvania's Rose Tree Media School District's dress code prohibited dress that "advocates illegal or anti-social behavior." Among the items listed included clothing that was "Satanic in nature."
This wording had a local Satanic organization take up the cause to fight for religious liberty.
Joseph Rose, who founded the Satanic Delco organization said other parents in his group made him aware of the language in the dress code. This would have banned their children from wearing clothing that advocated for their beliefs.
Rose told local a local ABC affiliate:
"The idea that a public school would allow religious expression in school, but choose to single out and prohibit the expression of one specific religion obviously seemed like a problem for us."
After weeks of emails and phone calls with the district, the superintendent sent out an announcement for the change.
The email said:
"...Although we have had no complaints or concerns brought forward by any student, parent, or resident we will remove this language from our current dress code information in the student handbook."
Many lauded the decision, saying it improved religious expression.
ABC 6 WPCI-TV interviewed locals who weighed in on the issue. Their concerns seemed to center around what they believed the Satanic organization to be.
Lisa Cutrufello said:
"I wouldn't want a Satanic or cultish anything on clothing in schools."
Donna Willis compared it to Nazism:
"It's like a free speech issue. Are they going to allow Nazis to be able to put symbols on kids' shirts and send them to school."
However, modern Satanic beliefs do not involve literally worshiping a supernatural demon. Instead, they are a nontheistic belief system that advocates for compassion and empathy for all people, and religious freedom for everyone.
The satanic imagery is meant to directly put them at odds with the organizations they believe prevent such endeavors, namely Christian and Catholic churches. The Satanic Delco in Delaware County, PA is not affiliated directly with the Satanic Temple, but shares many of the same beliefs and teachings.
Their fight for religious freedom has had some speed bumps, but there's a lot of support out there.
Rose's efforts are continuing in a neighboring school district. Garnet Valley's district prohibits clothing and gear that has satanic or "cult-ish" imagery.
The lobbying to change dress code helps bring to light what his organization is all about.
"It just sort of raises awareness for what Satanists are, what we're not, and maybe helps empower us a little when we have to reach out to the next high school, which I'm doing."