A political activist group best known for “punking” journalists and politicians via high profile publicity stunts has recently announced that abortion is a “Sacrament of Satanism” (later changing this language to “Ritual”) and thus protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This claim is both false and dangerous. Anyone familiar with the lunatic rantings of daytime talk show hosts during the Satanic Panic or the more recent “Q Anon” conspiracy theories knows that Christians often accuse Satanists of facilitating abortions as a form of child sacrifice. It’s ludicrous that anyone would think that associating abortion with Satanism would in anyway be beneficial towards Satanists or those supporting the right to have an abortion. The Satanic Temple, who in 2019 unironically registered as a Christian church in order to obtain tax exemption, does not represent the religion of Satanism on any level. This is not the first time their actions have, perhaps intentionally, tried to make Satanism appear as “foolish and irrational as we secularists view most other religions to be.” This latest stunt goes beyond simple headline chasing, giving ammo to religionists who would push to enact laws restricting individual freedoms as well as potentially putting the safety and lives of some people publicly identifying as Satanists at risk, as anti-abortion activists have been known to use violence to push their agendas in the past.
September 2021 Update: Unfortunately due to recent legislation in Texas this publicity stunt is again receiving press attention. This has brought criticism from reproductive justice organizers who are noting this just gives fuel to their opposition, and has put abortion & health care workers at risk, as well as prompted TST’s ex-spokesperson to publicly recognize that this campaign is unhelpful.
[Header image: Still from the 1922 fictional film HÄXAN, or, what anti-abortion activists already think happens inside Planned Parenthood.]
To counter this misinformation we have updated our FAQ to specifically address this claim, as follows:
Q: Is abortion a sacrament in Satanism?
A: No. It is an optional medical procedure which should be within the rights of the pregnant person to choose if they so desire, since being pregnant or not should be their decision. Limits on the gestational age of the fetus that may be aborted are up for discussion as part of a social contract which should based on scientific data, medical necessity, and personal value systems. How one views abortion is a matter for our members to decide individually, based on personal standards—but they may not enforce their values upon others, who are equally free to make their own decisions on this issue.
The very word “sacrament” is primarily a Christian term, meaning some sort of rite which confers a state of “divine grace” or some aspect of “sacredness.” At its most watered-down form, it can mean a sign, token, or symbol or even an oath or solemn pledge. But, to be clear, Satanism does not embrace rites, oaths, pledges, signs or tokens which are termed “sacraments.”
We are an explicitly carnal religion, and we embrace the profane. Therefore even the idea of something being sacred, such as the concept of holiness—which means veneration of an object or a procedure or rite because of its association with some sort of deity or divinity—is not in use as part of our philosophical framework. Those are aspects of spiritual thinking and symbolism, and thus not elements of Satanism, our skeptical, pragmatic, materialist, individualist atheist religion.