Why Abortion is Part of My Satanic Religion
If you don’t believe in Satan, why is abortion “Sacred”?
On August 5th, 2020, The Satanic Temple announced that Satanists who take part in TST’s new religious abortion ritual are exempt from unnecessary abortion regulations, thanks to the United States’ religious liberty laws. Many Christians and Christian-adjacents are taking this as confirmation that all abortions are really Satanic Sacrifices of pre-born babies.
There is one major problem with that: We do not believe in Satan. Or Moloch. Or Baal. Or any other evil deity that one could imagine collecting human / virgin / child / baby / fetal sacrifice in exchange for power.
Some people who do understand this think this means we are not sincere about our ritual, and that we are simply “trolling” or “trying to make a point” about religious liberty laws. That we use the imagery of Satanism to frighten Christians into removing religious protections that they don’t want to share with religions they don’t agree with.
While this is a little closer to the truth, it’s not quite right either. We do want to make sure that religious liberty laws are used to protect people of ALL religions (and people with no religion) equally, otherwise be removed.
But something I want everyone to understand is this - while we do not believe in a dark god (or any god) and are not at all practicing “fetal sacrifice” - we also are 100% sincere about abortion being a religious act.
If we don’t believe in God or Satan or magic or anything supernatural, it’s hard for folks to believe we are a religion at all, and even harder to understand that we might hold anything as “sacred”.
The key lies in understanding what we DO believe, rather than what we do not. There is a reason we don’t just call ourselves “atheists”. Atheism is about what a person DOESN’T believe. Satanism represents what we DO believe. If you want the entirety of our belief system, the TST FAQ goes into greater detail. For now, I will focus on only the pieces that are relevant to abortion and this announcement.
Tenet V: Beliefs should conform to one's best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one's beliefs.
Not only do we not believe in any gods or devils, our beliefs differ from Christians’ in another major way. We do not believe that life begins at conception. The fifth tenet urges us to use our “best scientific understanding” when forming our beliefs.
This does leave a lot of wiggle-room, as one person’s “best understanding” of science may differ from another’s, depending on their background and education level. And there are plenty of mysteries that science has yet to solve. But our religion encourages us to learn as much as we can and use rational judgement to determine what we believe. So most (if not all) TST members believe that the termination of a pregnancy is not the same as killing a human baby. Science (as most of us understand it) tells us that the termination of a pregnancy, especially at early stages, is just the pregnant person removing an unwanted piece of their own body that has the potential to eventually become a separate person.
Which brings us to our next relevant belief:
Tenet III: One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
This is the big one for me, and I think for many of us.
I was raised in a Christian household. I was taught that my body was not my own, that it belonged to my future husband and to God. As I got older, I was taught to shame myself for feeling attraction or interest in sex. I was not allowed to masturbate, and I remember with embarrassment the time I cried while I admitted to my mother I was sexually frustrated. I also remember wishing that a boy I liked would rape me, so that I could be with him without having “sinned”.
When it came to abortion, this was out of the question. I was essentially taught that not only did my body belong to God and my husband, but also to any “child” that god sent to inhabit it. I was not taught about birth control. My only choice was to abstain until marriage or accept the punishment of motherhood for my sin of lustfulness.
Looking back now, I understand that this was an abusive situation, and that being cut off from ownership of my body was very harmful to my psyche, as well as my health. I am still recovering from these damaging beliefs, but I now understand that my body and my mind are truly the only things I have in this world that are MINE.
I also know now that while the body is indeed temporary, there is no “celestial body” waiting for me on the other side. This is the only one I have, and as such, I will honor it and take care of it. I understand now that I only have one life. I feel incredibly grateful that I understand this and am no longer wasting my one life, and my one body, on the hope of an afterlife that is not coming. So while it may be difficult to understand, the joy that I feel in embracing ownership of my life and my body, taking that ownership back from the “god” and the people my parents gave it to when I was a child, is a religious experience for me. Taking back the power of CHOICE over what happens to my physical form, after having it denied me in childhood - and still having governments and religions try to take that choice away from me now - is one of the most solemn and sincere expressions of my religion I can think of.
If it helps you understand, abortion is not the only act that I feel is religious in this way. ANY choice I make when it comes to my body can feel religious to me. Choosing to eat healthy in order to help my body is “Satanic”. Choosing to have a brownie instead, because I want to and it’s my body, is also “Satanic”. Exercising is “Satanic”. Lounging around the house naked is “Satanic”. Choosing to drink alcohol is “Satanic”. So is choosing to be sober. Choosing to share my body with many partners is “Satanic”, as is choosing to abstain from sex altogether. Masturbation is definitely “Satanic”. And, lastly - if I become pregnant and choose not to continue to be pregnant - my abortion will be “Satanic”. Despite what you may have heard, not a single member of The Satanic Temple is going to purposefully become pregnant so that they can participate in the abortion ritual. We don’t believe there’s a baby, and we don’t believe in Satan, so there is no “sacrifice” happening during the ritual. Abortion is also expensive and risky, and becomes more so the farther along the pregnancy is. So none of us are putting our sacred bodies (or wallets) on the line to participate in some demented ritual that sick Christians dreamed up in their terrorized nightmares. Terrorized, I might add, by the same religion that oppressed many of us, that we are glad to be free of. But if by some chance my birth control fails, and I decide that I don’t want to be a parent (which is very likely, considering my current feelings on the matter) I will be seeking an abortion. And if I am able to obtain one, I will declare myself exempt from any medically unnecessary hoops and hurdles that are designed to delay me, shame me, or dissuade me.
I don’t need time to think, thank you - I’ve thought about it a million times. I don’t need to read a pamphlet that tells me life begins at conception, as this is contrary to my deeply-held beliefs, which I came by through study of science, as suggested by my religion. I don’t need to hear a fetal “heartbeat”, as I learned through my studies that in early pregnancy, this is simply an electronic pulse of the “fetal pole”, made audible by ultrasound equipment. I will not be forced to pay to have fetal remains buried or cremated, as these are religious rites that do not apply to a piece of my body I choose to remove. I will not be delayed or deterred by laws created by practitioners of another religion, in order to control my body the way my parents did in my youth. I will take full control of MY body and do with it what I wish, without interference. This is my right as a Satanist. And - I will participate in the ritual. It will be private and sacred to me. I will recite the third and fifth tenets, and I will remind myself of my responsibilities to myself above all others. And I’m not talking about “the baby” - there is no baby. I am talking about the “others” who attempt to impose their will onto my body. My responsibility is to myself, not to them. I will gaze in the mirror and assure myself of this, before and after I terminate my pregnancy. And then I will go on with my life, secure in the knowledge that I am living that life - my ONE life - exactly as I wish, before I go to the grave forever. There is one more tenet that makes this all necessary:
Tenet II: The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
The reason we use the name of Satan, even though we do not believe he exists in reality, is because he represents all of our values - especially that of fighting back against arbitrary authority. Where we see unjust powers encroaching upon the personal sovereignty of anyone, we will not roll over. We cannot ignore it. We must make a stand. This is why, despite the risks and dangers, The Satanic Temple HAD to do this. We HAD to declare ourselves exempt. We HAD to shine a light on the hypocrisy of laws like RFRA. We HAD to wrest ourselves free of the chains that this society attempts to place on the wombs of our Nation. To ignore these injustices, to let them go unchecked, would be most un-Satanic.
THYSELF IS THY MASTER
(Disclaimer: I do not represent The Satanic Temple in any official capacity. These are my own personal thoughts and opinions, as an active official chapter member of TST.)