The Satanic Temple (TST), which is classified as a religious organization by the IRS, is challenging the abortion law that recently took effect in Texas. TST argues that the law violates the religious freedom of members who want to experience the “Satanic Abortion Ritual.”
“The Satanic Temple stands ready to assist any member that shares its deeply-held religious convictions regarding the right to reproductive freedom,” says The Satanic Temple website. “Accordingly, we encourage any member who resides in Texas and wishes to undergo the Satanic Abortion Ritual within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy to contact The Satanic Temple so we may help them fight this law directly.”
The Satanic Temple: We Will Not Be Cowed
As ChurchLeaders reported last week, the Texas law, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed in May and which went into effect on Sept. 1., bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is typically at about six weeks into pregnancy. What sets the ban apart is its enforcement provision, which grants power to civilian whistleblowers and intentionally makes court challenges difficult.
Private citizens enforce the law by suing, not the person seeking the abortion, but anyone who assists her. People can receive up to $10,000 for successfully challenging a clinic or individual facilitating an abortion in any way. Someone could even be held liable for giving pastoral advice encouraging an abortion.
In July, Texas Right to Life (TRL) created a site called ProLifeWhistleblower.com where people could inform on others who wanted to get an abortion. After the Texas abortion law went into effect on Wednesday, Sept. 1, abortion advocates attempted to overwhelm the site and get it to crash. Then web hosting provider GoDaddy kicked the group off its platform, and TRL has had difficulty finding another.
“S.B. 8 is cynically designed to avoid judicial review of the law and creates enforcement mechanisms against TST and its lawyers who dare challenge the law,” says The Satanic Temple. “We will not be cowed into silence by an unjust law or a tyrannical state government.”
The Satanic Temple’s website says that its mission is “to encourage benevolence and empathy, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense, oppose injustice, and undertake noble pursuits.” It was President Trump’s 2017 executive order on religious freedom that prompted TST to seek tax-exempt status as a religious entity.