Colorado’s first-ever After School Satan Club to launch at Paonia elementary school
‘Benevolence’-focused offering requested as counterbalance to Good News Club
Students participate in an After School Satan Club event during Back To School Night in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 24, 2022. (Photo by Sean Simmers, courtesy of June Everett/After School Satan Club)
Colorado’s first-ever After School Satan Club is set to meet Monday at the Paonia K-8 school in Delta County.
The club was requested by a parent, who contacted June Everett, campaign director of After School Satan Club and an ordained minister of The Satanic Temple — a church whose mission, according to its website, encourages benevolence and empathy, rejects tyrannical authority, advocates practical common sense, opposes injustice, and undertakes noble pursuits.
Everett, a Colorado resident, told Newsline she became involved with ASSC in 2017, after her first-grader came home from school crying and “very upset” after friends told him he and his family would “burn in hell” and that he’d be taken away from his parents because they are agnostic and did not attend church.
His friends attended an after-school program called the Good News Club, Everett said. The Good News Club is a ministry of Missouri-based Child Evangelism Fellowship, with after-school clubs throughout the United States. According to its website, it is a “Bible-centered organization composed of born-again believers whose purpose is to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living.”
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Everett said the Delta County parent who contacted her wanted an alternative to the Good News Club at the Western Slope elementary school. Three volunteers from western Colorado, all of whom have undergone criminal background checks, will lead the ASSC meetings, Everett said.
The Satanic Temple establishes ASSCs in schools only where there are Good News Clubs or other similar religious clubs operating. Families must fill out permission slips for their children to attend any after-school club. As of Thursday, seven children were signed up for the Satan Club in Paonia. Everett expects more may come the day of the meeting.
The club has no set curriculum, she said. Instead, volunteers are allowed to create activities that align with the group’s seven tenets “designed to inspire nobility in action and thought,” including such things as “acting with compassion and empathy toward all creatures,” according to its website. The group does not worship the devil, or proselytize, Everett said.
‘Satan is a symbol’
After Milford Central School in upstate New York initially prohibited a Good News Club from operating at its school due to its policies not allowing groups to rent space for religious purposes, Child Evangelism Fellowship fought back, resulting in a 2001 Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Good News Club. The ruling is what allows After School Satan Clubs to also meet on school property, Everett said.
“We are a religious organization, we are a church,” Everett said. “We have deeply held religious beliefs. However, we’re non-theistic. We don’t believe Satan is real. We don’t believe in the supernatural. Satan is a symbol” of standing up to the tyrannical.
Everett said she is part of a Colorado congregation with members that meet in four different regions of the state.
We never picket against them. We don’t oppose them.
– Jeani Kell, of Child Evangelism Fellowship, on After School Satan Club
Lisa Young, of KVNF Community Radio in Paonia, reported Thursday that parents were notified in a newsletter from Delta County Joint District No. 50 that the club would launch on Monday.
Three ASSC meetings are scheduled at the school for the 2023 spring semester. Depending on the interest, Everett said the club could meet more often next year.
Jeani Kell of Grand Junction is the area director for Child Evangelism Fellowship. She said the Good News Club has operated at the Paonia school for several years. There are reportedly 3,500 Good News Club chapters across the nation.
“We don’t debate with (the Satan Club),” Kell said. “We never picket against them. We don’t oppose them.”
Threats of violence have erupted in some areas of the country where After School Satan Clubs have formed, or are in the process of being launched. In February, a bomb threat caused one school where an ASSC had been established to close for two days. And in Pennsylvania a school canceled its plan to allow an ASSC to meet at the school after administrators received an email threatening violence, Everett said.
Delta County schools Superintendent Caryn Gibson said the district has received some phone calls from parents concerned about the name of the Satan Club.
“We don’t have anything to do with the club,” Gibson said. “We’re just renting space.”
All after-school clubs fill out a fair-use agreement and pay a fee to rent the school property.
“We want people to know we do not discriminate,” Gibson said. “That’s where it is.”
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