The Satanic Temple’s Guidelines for Effective Protest
- Protest is an act of free speech, and protesters must respect free speech
- Free speech does not include the right to harass, slander, or incite violence
- Being offended is not the same as being harassed; The Satanic Temple offends many people because they are offended by Satan, but that does not give others the right to silence us
- If you think people should not have the right to offend others, then you should not be involved with protest because that assertion offends The Satanic Temple
- Have a clearly articulated position with tenable demands and a practical well-defined statement for what constitutes achieving your goals
- If the mission is to end the persecution of some group, this is not a meaningful goal because the objective is vague and open to subjective opinions regarding what constitutes persecution and whether that persecution is coming from a source that can be confronted. Concerns must be narrowly defined
- Do not presume a broad following is indicative of a coherent plan for constructive change. Catchy slogans and unattainable goals may yield a large following with substantial financial backing, but they will not lead to beneficial social transformation in the absence of articulated objectives that are feasible and they will likely promote social divisiveness and exhaust the revolutionary energy of supporters
- Effective protest is founded on a legitimate theory of change that is exemplified by the structure of IF I do X, THEN Y will happen BECAUSE Z.
- For example, IF TST forms a Satanic organization with sincerely held beliefs and demands the same rights that are granted to other religious entities, THEN either a broader range of people will also be able to enjoy these privileges or certain privileges will no longer persist for an arbitrary elite BECAUSE of the legal protections and rights under the First Amendment and the 1964 Civil Rights Act
- Raising consciousness can be legitimate if it is part of a well-conceived broader strategy, but it is not legitimate as a goal because awareness of injustice does not lead to ending injustice without a strategy. If you are being brutally attacked by a madman, would you want thousands of people to know you are being attacked through the raising of awareness or would you want even just one person to physically intervene?
- If you cannot come up with a legitimate theory of change, you do not have a viable approach
- It is easy to convince oneself that an ill-conceived theory of change is legitimate, so run your theory of change by intelligent impartial third parties to make sure it is sound
- Protest must be based on a principle as opposed to identity politics. Everyone benefits from the pursuit of well-conceived principles
- If you oppose all discrimination based on religion, then you stand for a principle; however, if you only oppose discrimination of Satanists, then your movement is divisive and counter-productive because you are only looking to protect one group and thereby establish a new privileged class by disregarding other groups that are affected by the same kind of discrimination
- Virtue is defined by the quality of one’s principles, not by the degree of one’s victimhood
- Stay focused on specific issues and do not adopt issues that you think are analogously related
- Oppressed groups are not all alike; adopting the agenda of another oppressed (or seemingly oppressed) group and merging it with your movement will co-opt your movement and undermine its integrity
- Stand for issues and principles – do not reflexively support the entire agenda of parties, organizations, or individuals
- Fighting partisan politics with partisan politics avoids any possibility for engaging in introspection and leaves little hope for constructive outcomes
- Defend principles not people. If you support or ignore overreaches of power because they are claimed by a politician or political party you support, those new powers will carry forward to those whom you may not support
- By standing for issues, there are more options for commonality with people who may otherwise have become adversaries
- Do not allow narratives to prevail over facts
- When well-intentioned individuals, organizations, journalists, or filmmakers play fast and loose with facts in the service of a narrative, they dramatically undermine legitimate causes when the facts come to light
- If you rely on propaganda, staged reporting, distortions, half-truths, or outright lies in the service of a “greater truth,” that should be a wake-up call that your position is unsound and should be abandoned
- Restrict your movement to people who believe in the principles of your movement
- Allowing your protest movement to be open to anyone with an agenda results in a lack of focus
- A small group of people committed to addressing the same issue will accomplish more than a large group united under one banner, but with competing interests
- If your protest calls for the deprivation of rights and liberties of others, intimidates others, harasses or threatens others, silences others, then you are an enemy of freedom no matter what the justification
- Engaging in, promoting, inciting, and/or celebrating physical violence that deliberately targets civilians is never justifiable
- If you justify your involvement with people who deliberately try to murder civilians by invoking a narrative about justice, then you are dangerously delusional
This is a part of an internal letter from the co-founder Lucien Greaves to the chapter heads in The Satanic Temple which further expands upon the intent of our protest guidelines.
"The fight now, especially in the current American political climate, is very real. But we do not want this fight alone to forever define us. We do not, in any circumstances, want our relevance to be measured by our willingness to seek out problems, to the extent that offense is feigned for inadvertent or imaginary transgressions. Nor do we wish to see our unique and outsized voice diminished as part of a larger chorus of unfocused discontent, however justified that discontent may be. We have defied expectations and accusations that we are mere “trolls” or a “protest movement disguised as a religion.”
The Women’s March and the March for Science were well-intentioned efforts at “raising awareness” for legitimate issues that I suspect all of us feel deeply invested in. However, without clear goals, without supporting demands for specific legislative reform, without a real defined purpose, the energy expended on these marches seemed sadly squandered and outside the purview of TST’s focus upon defined outcomes. While it is inspiring to see large masses standing in solidarity for causes (despite their generality) that we support, we would like the activist banner of TST to be reserved for those instances in which our presence signals that we are not only in the fight, but we know exactly how we are to win that fight. Let us not wave the banner of TST in impotent outrage for failure to conceive of a means to achieve an actual remedy. The chapters of TST should inspire all of the respect and theocrat fear deserving of our brand. Let us not use up our media currency to draw attention merely to ourselves, relegating ourselves to “there’s those people again” status, while our presence is of questionable aid to the issue already garnering wide-scale public support of its own. (Please see earlier protest/activism guidelines.) ...
We are certainly not trying to undermine our members’ engagement with activism. We’re trying to raise the bar. If your chapter wants to engage in a mass protest, make sure it is attached to a specific outcome. Have model legislation penned and petitions to support it. Have a target and a measure of victory. Make sure your message is clear, even as the broader protest itself will surely devolve into dueling shouts for factional primacy. Failing that, march happily without the banner of TST, and we will have nothing to say about it..."