Members of the Satanic Temple are celebrating Florida Gov. Rick Scott's recent bill defending religious freedom and will be holding a rally in his honor.
Satanists are getting ready to show solidarity with Scott on Jan. 25 at a rally in front of his office in Tallahassee, celebrating his recent approval of State Senate Bill 98, which allows children to read inspirational messages at assemblies and sporting events.
"The Satanic Temple embraces the free expression of religion, and Satanists are happy to show their support of Rick Scott who -- particularly with SB 98 -- has reaffirmed our American freedom to practice our faith openly, allowing our Satanic children the freedom to pray in school," a press release by the Satanic Temple states. The temple's leader, Neil Bricke, will deliver a speech to the crowd during the rally.
"The bill is something we felt we could latch onto," Lucien Greaves, a spokesperson for the Satanic Temple, added to the New York Daily News. "It does allow for an alternative point of view."
The Satanic Temple explains on its official website that members believe in both God and Satan.
"Although Satan is subordinate to God, he is mankind's only conduit to the dominion beyond the physical. In addition, only Satan can hear our prayers and only Satan can respond. While God is beyond human comprehension, Satan desires to be known and knowable. Only in this way can there be justice and can life have meaning," the group explains.
The Temple should not be confused, however, with the official Church of Satan, which rejects all ideas of God, the devil, and supernatural beings, and whose members identify themselves as atheists.
Membership statistics for the Satanic Temple or the Church of Satan are hard to come by, particularly because many members choose to remain underground for various reasons, but The Huffington Post reported that over 100 Satanic members are expected for the Jan. 25 rally outside Gov. Scott's office.
As for Senate Bill 98, although it does not allow school officials to participate in prayers or "inspirational messages," it opens the door for students to meditate, offer a quiet prayer, or share such messages. It officially went into effect in July.
Greaves explained that the bill is a victory for religious freedom, and can help out minority believers like Satanists.
"When it comes to faith-based initiatives, that's the kind of the thing that gives minority religions access to foundational funding," Greaves said.
"We are a compassionate religion, with humanitarian goals," the Satanic Temple spokesman added. "We endorse people to pursue happiness so long as it doesn't intrude on other people's happiness."