Living in a religiously dominated community can be tough for those of the secular persuasion.
Religion provides a space for socializing and a sense of community. When you’re not a part of that group it can be hard to fit in or find friendships, according to USU Secular Student Alliance founder Muriel McGregor.
McGregor said even though she isn’t religious she still feels a sense of wanting to be a good person and wants to help out the community. She created the local club, part of a national organization of secular students, a few years ago and found that other people had the same feelings.
“They were like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I found you guys because I’ve been looking for something like this for years,’” McGregor said.
Part of the mission of the USU Secular Student Alliance is to support and recognize religious equality.
“We want to support religious freedom, whatever form it may be,” McGregor said.
“I feel like it’s important that all viewpoints are recognized and you’re not ending with a situation like religious dominance.”
In keeping with this philosophy, the club is hosting a speaker from an organization that shares the same mission, although its name might not immediately conjure up images of fellowship and goodwill, and the event could even generate some controversy.
Lucien Greaves, spokesman and co-founder of the Satanic Temple, will speak at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Taggart Student Center auditorium.
According to the Satanic Temple website, the group does not promote a belief in a “personal Satan.” The Satanic Temple believes in seven tenets that include compassion toward all creatures, a respect for the freedom of others and a strong basis in the best scientific understanding of the world.
A variety of internet sources report that Greaves’ given name is Douglas Mesner. A Wikipedia page devoted to the Satanic Temple says Greaves “does not use his legal name to avoid possible threats to his family.”
While both the Secular Student Alliance and the Satanic Temple fight for religious freedom, McGregor said they have slightly different methods.
McGregor said she subscribes to the “let’s be friends” approach of working with people of different beliefs. Since she is living in a community long-term, she said that’s the more productive approach.
But she said the more aggressive approach of the Satanic Temple is helpful to break down “entrenched biases” that can be harder to resolve.
One of their most well-known tactics was in reaction to a monument of the 10 Commandments installed on grounds of an Oklahoma courthouse. The Satanic Temple then pushed for the addition of a monument of Baphomet, a goat-headed deity.
McGregor said the Satanic Temple’s intention was to fight for religious equality.
“I feel like the 10 Commandment example is a pretty good one because it’s like, well what about the Jewish people, what about the Muslim people … what about the Hindi people?” McGregor said. “They didn’t get a monument either.”
With events like Friday’s speech, McGregor said the mission of the Secular Student Alliance is to show that religion isn’t necessary to be able to tell right from wrong or to find meaning in life.
“Whether you’re a member of the Satanic Temple or whether you identify as nonreligious, secular that doesn’t mean you don’t have morals,” McGregor said. “That doesn’t mean that you don’t care about other people or the community. We definitely do, very much so.”
Friday’s speech will be followed by a “Satanic Afterparty” at the Cache Venue at 9 p.m. advertised on the club’s Facebook page as a celebration including “Music, Dancing, Blasphemy, and Sin!” Entrance fees to the afterparty will benefit the Cache Humane Society.
“If you want to wear devil horns or whatever, then do it,” McGregor said.