The Loving Rebel
Satanic Responsibility to Challenge What You Love
Often, we Rebel Angels have a very “Us versus Them” mentality. We see our struggle with encroaching theocracy as a war with two opposing sides. We give ultimatums and draw lines in the sand. The Allies vs. The Axis Powers. “You are either with us, or with the terrorists.”
And it may indeed be a war. If you’ve seen “Jesus Camp” or looked at the Internet lately, theocrats certainly seem to think so. But it’s important to recognize that it is a civil war. Both sides may be fighting AGAINST each other, but they are also fighting FOR something both sides love - America. These are not two foreign powers - we share a homeland. We simply disagree on what is best for it.
Because of my progressive left activism, I have sometimes been asked - “Why do you hate America?” My response is - I don’t. I love her. And because I love her, I will check her on her bullshit. I want her to be her best, so I will point out to her when she’s being shitty, and I will take her keys when she’s drunk.
This is something I love so much about TST. I have said before that I consider it to be the most American religion BECAUSE we hold America up to her own standards and ideals. This country was founded on freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the rights of all people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Where we see America not living up to these promises, we consider it a duty to shine a light and hold her accountable. It is because we love the dream of America so completely, that we are willing to risk anything to see it come true. Even if that means causing a ruckus, and even if that means we are viewed by many as “The Enemy”.
Let us not forget that Lucifer was not some external interloper. He was one of Heaven’s angels. He loved his home and had many friends there. And yet he risked it all when he saw problems arise. And he lost. He was exiled from his home. But he had no regrets, saying it was “better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." He did what he knew to be right and true. Better to have loved and lost, if what you love is worth fighting for.
I once worked for a company that transferred home movies from VHS to digital. I loved being able to preserve peoples’ cherished family memories. And I hated when we failed, ruined them and shirked the blame. I knew we could do better. I refined our processes and eventually earned a QA title, but there were still folks above me who rejected progress. Whose ego prevented them from hearing a young woman. It was stressful and frustrating, but I fought as long as I could, daring to ruffle feathers along the way, because it was deeply important to me.
I have also co-written and co-produced a feature film. Again, there were people above me who refused to listen to someone young and female. People who thought they knew better about the story of a film that I wrote. But I was deeply passionate. I remained as cool and reasonable as I could, even while being told to my face to, “shut the fuck up.” At one point, I was barred from the meeting room, and could have been kicked off the film altogether. It is the things we love the most that we must fight for the hardest, even if that means questioning those above us. I would even say, for a TST-aligned Satanist, it is our duty to do so. It is why many of us are here, having already escaped some form of tyranny in our lives. The second tenet states, “The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.” I am proud as Hell to be a member of an organization full of passionate people ready and willing to speak truth to power, despite the risks.
Authority in and of itself is not inherently bad. We are not anti-authority in general. It is when authority is arbitrary or tyrannical that one must stand up and speak. We have a responsibility and a duty to fight back against oppressive ordinances. We have a right to ask questions and have them answered. A right to present concerns and have them acknowledged. Our sixth tenet reminds us that people (and groups, I’ll add) are fallible, and that if we make a mistake, we must do our best to rectify it. Having been raised in a 12-step group, this reminds me of the practice of “making amends”. However, sometimes it is hard for a group or a person to see when they’ve done something wrong or hurtful. This is why it is important to speak up, even and especially to our friends and loved ones.
TST’s hotly-debated fourth tenet states, “The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one's own.” While this tenet refers to all freedoms, the freedom to hurt someone with words has been called out specifically. Being told that I’m wrong or have done harm can be painful, but it is also one of the most amazing opportunities to find growth and be better.
Questions and concerns are signs of love, not hate. They are not a threat, but a gift. There is always room for improvement. None of us will ever reach enlightenment - I hope to keep growing until the day I die. I want the same for any group, organization or country I am a part of. I am proud to be a member of a religion full of many people who are just as passionate about growth, improvement and enlightenment. I am proud to live by tenets that promote speaking up and asking questions, even if someone’s ego may get bruised.
Where would America be without the Boston Tea Party? Without Rosa Parks? Without Marsha P. Johnson? Thomas Paine. Harriet Tubman. Martin Luther King Jr. Susan B. Anthony. The United States of America was founded on rebellion, and our greatest heroes are rebels. The same can be said for The Satanic Temple. And that is why I love it and will fight for it to be the best it can be.
VIRTUS TENTAMINE GAUDET
VIVAT CRESCAT FLOREAT
(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.)