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The IRS Officially Recognizes the Satanic Temple as a Church

The church has been granted tax-exempt status

SALEM, MA - JULY 25: Lucien Greaves, is spokesman for The Satanic Temple, photographed outside a Salem courthouse, a group of political activists who identify themselves as a religious sect, are seeking to establish After-School Satan clubs as a counterpart to fundamentalist Christian Good News Clubs, which they see as the Religious Right to infiltrate  public education, and erode the separation of church and state. (Photo by Josh Reynolds for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Lucien Greaves, spokesman for The Satanic Temple, photographed in Salem, Massachusetts.

Josh Reynolds for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Good news for those who worship Satan and Satan-adjacent deities (goats, I wanna say?): the Satanic Temple has officially been granted tax-exempt status by the IRS, according to a post from the religion’s official Instagram account.

Being granted tax-exempt status essentially means that the Satanic Temple has the same legal protections that other religions do, including “access to public spaces as other religious organizations; affirming its standing in court when battling religious discrimination; and enabling The Satanic Temple to apply for faith-based government grants,” according to a press release sent to Rolling Stone.

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Although the Satanic Temple had previously rejected pursuing tax-exempt status, church president Lucien Greaves reversed this stance in 2017 after President Trump signed a “religious freedom” executive order. “As ‘the religious’ are increasingly gaining ground as a privileged class, we must ensure that this privilege is available to all, and that superstition doesn’t gain exclusive rights over non-theistic religions or non-belief,” Greaves wrote in the Satanic Temple newsletter (yes, apparently there is a Satanic Temple newsletter), adding that the group should move to ensure that “atheistic and secular non-profits, advancing a distinct religious opinion and/or opinion upon religion, are themselves rightful beneficiaries of religious tax exemption as well.”

As documented by the recent film Hail, Satan?, the Satanic Temple was initially founded in 2013 as something of a joke, as a way to highlight the increasingly blurred lines between church and state. In one famous 2013 rally, the group expressed its support of Gov. Rick Scott, who had just signed a controversial bill allowing for student-led prayer in schools. The group also advocated for the addition of a Baphomet statue outside the Oklahoma state capitol, next to a statue of the Ten Commandments. Over time, the organization has evolved into a genuine grassroots religious and activist movement, experiencing a huge spike in membership after the election of Donald Trump.

Though it was reported as the first satanic religion in the United States to be officially granted such a status, IRS records show that a local New York City “grotto,” or chapter, of the Church of Satan, was given the status in 1980.

 

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that other Satanic-affiliated groups have previously been granted tax-exempt status.  

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