First, we have a story out of New York City, where the local Satanic Temple is trying to crowdsource a project to acquire funding that would allow them to be part of the state's Adopt-a-Highway program. [Source]
The Church of Satan, whose actions in this regard are being chronicled by Spectacle Films, Inc. for a possible documentary, is soliciting donations through the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo. (Here's a link to the donation site.) According to the article linked above, written by Sarah Wilson of Illuminati conspiracy theory fame, the church claims to have innocent motives:
Why would the Satanic Temple wish to join the adopt-a-highway program? The group says that they would like to use the opportunity to enhance the public's understanding of Satanism, and hopefully gain a bit more acceptance within the community. The Satanic Temple would uphold the voluntary upkeep (including ridding the area of garbage) of a stretch of public highway for at least two years. They also plan to do a little landscaping as well.Of course, Wilson isn't buying that they're really just trying to do their part to care for the community:
In order to adopt their own piece of highway and maintain clean-up duties for the two years, the Temple must pay an estimated $10,000, which is why they are accepting donations by using the crowd-source funding option of indiegogo.com.
If the group gains approval, the New York Department of Transportation will post the all-too-known blue-and-white sign acknowledging the adopting party (in which case, it would say Satanic Temple), and in the end, gain promotion for a group that is not readily embraced by the general public. Why? Because although the Satanic Temple hopes to use this action to spread their message of "Satanic civic pride and social responsibility," those associated with the Temple still believe in and worship Satan.You should keep in mind, however, that Wilson is the same person who thought that Beyoncé made magical Illuminati signs at the Superbowl this year and that's why they had a power failure, so anything she claims should be taken with a grain of salt. Be that as it may, she is undoubtedly correct that having signs that say "This section of highway has been adopted by THE CHURCH OF SATAN" isn't going to go down well with a good many people. In fact, I can say with some certainty that 34% of Americans are going to take serious issue with it, which brings me to our second story.
A story in Huffington Post yesterday describes a YouGov Omnibus poll taken this spring in which a random sampling of Americans were asked two questions:
1) Would you support a measure that would make Christianity the official religion of your state?34% of the Americans polled answered yes to the first one, and 32% to the second.
2) Would you support a constitutional amendment that would make Christianity the official religion of the United States?
"This was a national poll," writes the author of the article, Fred Rich. "Imagine what the numbers must have been in Alabama, Kansas, and Oklahoma."
So, once again we have the mystifying desire on the part of one third of Americans to turn the United States into a theocracy. Which, of course, makes it abundantly clear why this group is consistently the same bunch that howls about claims that Sharia law will be instituted in the United States, and are certainly the ones who would flip out if "Adopt-a-Highway: Satanic Temple of New York" signs appeared by the roadside. The problem is not (in the first case) that people are using an antiquated book of bizarre, arbitrary, and inhumane rules to govern their behavior, nor (in the second) that some group of people who worship an almost certainly nonexistent being want a chance to throw that fact in the public's face. No, the motivation is just fine with them.
The problem is that it isn't the right book of bizarre, arbitrary, and inhumane rules, and the right almost certainly nonexistent being.
Now, I'm not going to debate the second part; I've gone into the reasons for my atheism in enough detail here that anyone who is a regular reader will not need to be reminded in that regard. But if you objected to the first statement -- that the Christian Bible is just as weird and bloodthirsty as the worst sections of the Qu'ran -- I would suggest that you that you haven't read it very carefully. People like to quote the happy parts of the Bible, such as Matthew 19:14: "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" They conveniently forget Psalm 137:9: "Blessed shall he be who takes your babies and dashes them against the rock!" People who call the Muslims barbarians for stoning people for having sex outside of marriage forget how many offenses in the Bible called for stoning to death, including teenagers being rebellious (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) and gathering firewood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36).
Even people who are fond of using the bible to justify their hatred of gays and lesbians, who cite Leviticus 20:13 as their support -- "You shall not lie with a man as one does with a woman" -- conveniently don't mention that the next bit goes, "They are both to be put to death, and let their blood be on their own heads."
So, tell me honestly, those of you who would love to see the United States become a Christian theocracy; are you really eager to institute biblical rules for governing life? I doubt seriously whether even the most devout Christians are "living biblically" right now. If they were, they'd be in jail.
As far as I'm concerned, I have no problem with the Church of Satan adopting a highway in New York. We've got too much damn litter and too few people who are willing to pick it up, and I don't see how it matters if it's picked up by someone who thinks it makes sense to worship a guy with horns and goats' feet. If you think that the biblical God is somehow better than Satan, I suggest you go through your bible and do a body count -- count up the number of people killed by Satan and the number killed by God directly, or on his command. One writer, with far more patience and time than I have, has combed the bible, and found that the count puts God in the lead, at God's 2,476,633 people murdered as compared to Satan's 10. So if Satan wants to catch up, in the evil department, he'd best get busy.
Of course, in my opinion, they're both imaginary friends, but I suspect you knew I'd say that. I guess the bottom line is that you need to be picking up trash for the right imaginary friend to get any kind of approval.
And to those of you who really think that a theocracy is the way to go, I suggest you look, honestly and impartially, at how such a method of governance has worked in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran. Then go, and read your bible, and consider carefully what life would really be like if those rules were instituted, not just for true believers, but for everyone. Consider what life was like when the religious leaders did run the government and the justice system, and created such wonderful institutions as the Inquisition and the Crusades.
If at that point you still tell me that we'd be better off having Christianity as the state religion, then I suspect that either (1) you're lying, or (2) you're batshit crazy. And in neither case should we take what you say seriously.