In 1692 a darkness descended on Salem, Massachusetts, like no other in American history. Children and adults alike, claimed that the devil himself wa
In 1692 a darkness descended on Salem, Massachusetts, like no other in American history. Children and adults alike, claimed that the devil himself was walking the streets of the early English colony, accusing their friends and neighbors of witchcraft. Many of them were consequently hanged. By locating its headquarters in Salem, the Satanic Temple is capitalizing on the towns horrendous legacy to promote its cause and has just announced it will also be offering Satanic scholarships.
Devil’s Advocate Scholarship: Promoting Individualism, Free-Thought and Empathy
The Satanic Temple is an organization determined to promote the separation of church and state with the United States. Their scholarship committee will choose two lucky candidates, from its list of 2020 submissions, that they deem devilish enough to be awarded a $500 scholarship grant. If you want to stand a chance of winning the Devil’s Advocate Scholarship, just follow the instructions on this Twitter post asking applicants to submit “essays, poems, art or films” responding to one of two dark directives.
The first of the two calls-to-action is for creative applicants to promote the temple’s tenets and greater mission, and the second asks for a description of a school teacher who “crushed your spirit, undermined your self-confidence, and made you hate every minute you were forced to be in school.” Malcolm Jarry, co-founder of the Satanic Temple, told CNN that the idea for a scholarship program came about after a high school student contacted him “to ask for a letter of recommendation for a religious scholarship that was being offered at her school.”
Inside the international headquarters for the Satanic Temple in Salem, Massachusetts, there is a temple featuring their notorious Baphomet statue, a bronze sculpture created, thanks to an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, as an act of protest. The group petitioned for the statue to be displayed at Oklahoma State Capitol, in response to a monument of the Ten Commandments installed by Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze in 2012. ( Marz Nozell / CC BY 2.0 )
Exploiting Salem’s Dark History
In 2019 the Boston Herald published a behind the scenes look at the Satanic Temple which is based “amid the witchy hoopla of downtown Salem, Massachusetts.” The investigative journalist said the organization’s international headquarters “occupies an antique home” with a temple that features their notorious Baphomet statue. “Unsurprisingly, the house once served as a funeral home.”
According to Satan and Salem author Benjamin Ray, the 1692 Salem witch trials were “the result of a perfect storm of factors that culminated in a great moral catastrophe” that gripped the young English colony of Massachusetts. Over 150 people, mostly innocent, were imprisoned, and nineteen were executed by hanging. The colonial government who initiated the trials “eventually repudiated the entire affair as a great delusion of the Devil.”
The 1692 Salem witch trials were a moral catastrophe that gripped the English colony of Massachusetts, as depicted in the oil painting entitled “Accused of Witchcraft” by Douglas Volk. ( Public domain )
A Modern Temple Built on Sand: Debunking the Myth of “Supernatural” Salem
Ray’s book assembles and presents portraits of several major 17th century characters who all had a complex series of motives for accusing their neighbors of Satanism and he reveals how religious, social, political, and legal factors all played a role in the drama. However, even in the face of such well-researched, scholarly work, many armchair Satanists maintain Salem is the black-heart and traditional home of American witchcraft, and as such, the Satanic Temple , which has reached the religious heights of tax-free status, has located its headquarters in the historic coastal city.
The Satanic Temple website says that the group “advocates the pursuit of knowledge,” but believes people confuse learning and schooling. Unfortunately, there is no sign of the accumulated knowledge, or historical truth, behind the Salam trials which almost every modern scholar puts down to satanic panic, social paranoia, or mass hysteria .
Satan as a Literary Construct: Honoring Rugged Individualism
What Jarry and the members of the Satanic Temple do get right, however, is that they believe Satan is a “literary construct” , and not an actual living being. As Jarry told CNN, their Devil’s Advocate Scholarship promotes the organization’s values by “honoring those who engage in pro-social rugged individualism.” The Satanic Temple uses symbols for Satan derived in great part from movies and pop culture, which Jarry explains draw attention to what he sees as “the hypocrisy of Christian symbols on government property.”
For those of you out there that feel a hole in your heart and void in your soul, who just know that something greater than you controls the universe, the Satanic Temple scholarship is open until August 31st and the lucky winners will be announced on the temple’s website on September 15th. For $500, I just might write an essay myself.
Top image: The Satanic Temple headquarters are located in Salem, Massachusetts. The controversial group uses Satanic imagery to promote egalitarianism, social justice and the separation of church and state. Source: wimage72 / Adobe Stock
By Ashley Cowie