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article imageOp-Ed: Woman who damaged Satanic Temple seeks funds for war on Satan Special

By Megan Hamilton     May 6, 2015 in World
Tallahassee - Last December, Susan Hemeryck created a stir when she allegedly vandalized a holiday display put up by The Satanic Temple.
She was arrested for her trouble, on a charge of criminal mischief. However, the charge was dropped in March.
Prosecutors said they dropped the charge because there was no evidence of damage, WCTV reports.
This video shows someone who appears to be Hemeryck, vandalizing the display:
Now, Hemeryck has launched a GoFundMe page partly, she says, because she lost her home and her job in the aftermath, but also because she wants to wage a war on Satanists and atheists. So far, she's managed to raise just over $3,000.
She writes that members of The Satanic Temple attacked Christianity "and desecrated our holy celebration of Christ's birth by placing a "grossly offensive" satanic display in the same spot where the Nativity had been removed just hours earlier."
The nativity scene was removed after a staff attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation argued that it was "unlawful for the town to maintain, erect, or host a holiday display that consists solely of a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing one religion. The Supreme Court has ruled it is impermissible to place a nativity scene as the sole focus of a display on government property," the attorney wrote in a letter to the Jay City Hall, where the display was set up. The attorney said the letter was in response to a complaint the foundation had received from a resident.
Hemeryck was upset because kids coming to the Capitol on Christmas Eve "hoping [sic] see baby Jesus saw only Satan instead. The Satanic Temple is also trying to place satanic books in Florida public schools and a life-size statue of Satan in Oklahoma."
However, what The Satanic Temple wants is a place at the table. As an atheist, I want that too, as do scads of other religious or non-religious organizations as well.
Fortunately, not all Christians get upset by worldviews that differ from their own, Jex Blackmore, a spokeswoman for The Satanic Temple noted in an interview with Digital Journal.
"However, it's clear that many do take issue with sharing the holiday season with those outside the Christian faith," she said. "It demonstrates a lack of cultural and historical awareness topped with a hefty dose of narcissism. The Satanic Temple has only affirmatively asserted our own beliefs, we have not sought to remove or attack any Christian displays, rather, we've merely asked that our voice is represented within the public forum alongside others."
Indeed, as LiveScience notes, the origins for this winter holiday stretch back well before Christians co-opted it.
Hemeryck alleges that Satanists are seeking revenge against her in time for next Christmas, but The Satanic Temple hasn't taken any action against her, Blackmore notes.
"The Satanic Temple took no action whatsoever because the case was in the hands of the state who decided to drop all charges against her," Blackmore says. "She claims that she would like to pursue a legal battle against us, but on what grounds? She offers no strategy, and no legal rationalization in support of such claims. She committed a crime, and not only did she get off scot-free, she's now asking to be rewarded--begging for a handout on false pretenses."
Hemeryck then says that the Satanists "are also moving forward with their agenda to entrench Satan in America's government hall and in our public schools," she writes.
"This is a hate group, whose actions can be compared to the Nazis displaying a swastika at Hanukkah, or the KKK erecting a burning cross on Martin Luther King day."
She writes this without a single trace of irony.
"The Satanic Temple has never advocated for hostility against another religion or encouraged our members to deface or attack those who disagree with our organization," Blackmore said. "On the other hand, Ms. Hemeryck has engaged in and clearly condones violence and other illegal activity towards members of the Satanic religion simply because she doesn't agree with our beliefs."
"However, I suppose her behavior comes as little surprise considering that she shares the same faith of the very villains she has ironically likened us to. Perhaps we should remind her that the KKK is a 'faith-based Christian organization,' and that the Vatican endorsed the Nazi regime."
These are the principles of The Satanic Temple:
"The Satanic Temple's mission is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will," Blackmore said. "To us, Satan is symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds."
Hemeryck also gets the Constitution wrong when she writes:
"The public expression of our Judeo-Christian faith is part of our American heritage, because it is upon these principles that America and her Constitution were founded."
The Atlantic notes that our Constitution, in the First Amendment's Establishment Clause states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"--and this means that not only no church but no "religion" could be made the official faith of the United States.
Further, the Free Exercise Clause states that "Congress shall not make laws "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion, although this seems to be lost on many religious, right-wing politicians, like say Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, or Ted Cruz. Like Hemeryck, many of these politicians are members of the Tea Party and they are forcing an agenda that they claim is based on their religious beliefs, but that agenda discriminates against women, against science, against LGBT people, immigrants, blacks, and the non-religious.
It discriminates against all these groups who want to have their own place at the table, and this is where our Constitution comes in. To protect our place at that table.
We are navigating through a dangerous time.
"In a nation that supposedly cherishes the diversity and independence of its citizens, we tread in dangerous waters when we begin to see differences of faith and worldview as a threat," Blackmore said. "Framing the debate regarding diverse holiday displays as a war on the Christian faith is not only inaccurate, but plays into the hands of those who already enjoy a majority influence, yet want to claim victim status."
That oft-used phrase "Freedom of Religion" also means freedom from religion.
"By its very nature religious freedom must include the right to reject all religion or else it really isn't religious freedom at all. In fact, we all practice freedom from religion in some form such as choosing one religion over another--a Catholic has the right not to follow the teachings of Muhammad," Blackmore said. "However, as some have claimed, freedom from religion does not mean being free from seeing religion in society such as churches or religious expressions."
She added:
"Freedom from religion means that we are free to follow our own conscience, religious or not, unrestricted by the rules and dogmas of other people's religious beliefs."
While it's understandable that Hemeryck, like many other Christians, wants to see a nativity scene displayed, theists and non-theists have the right to put up their own displays.
It really boils down to this: Either everyone is allowed to put up a holiday display or no one is.
As an atheist, I like to celebrate the winter solstice, and yes, this is a Pagan ritual, but it's a reminder of nature's life-giving force and that spring is not far behind. It's a time to celebrate the harvest and the new year that's about to be born.
It is a light in the darkness.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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