It Takes a Religion: Church, TST, and winning the battle for bodily autonomy

Recent years have seen an overwhelming upsurge in anti-choice sentiment in local and national governments masked in radicalized Christian ideologies.  These ultra-conservative views have been able to overtake and bombard states with hazardous anti-choice policies. Whatever the reasons driving this obsession to overturn Roe v. Wade: misogyny, patriarchy, to control women, to control reproduction, greed; there needs to be a powerful, united effort against it.

There have been public outcries against this persistence to upend reproductive rights, but there’s no real driving opposition. The contentions to these heinous obstructions to personal freedom are mainly seen on social media. Large gatherings, demonstrations, and protests in the streets are needed to establish a staunch resistance. Hundreds of thousands of women marched on Washington, D.C. to successfully defend abortion rights in 1992. Huge pro-choice walk-outs and demonstrations took place in 2016 in Poland to successfully stop a total abortion ban in the country. Thousands of people protested and signed petitions in 2017 in South Korea that resulted in the decriminalization of abortion. The United States has had several “Women’s Marches” recently, but none focused solely on reproductive rights. Reproductive justice and bodily autonomy need to be central in repeated, national, concerted actions. 

The Satanic Temple can be a galvanizing force in these endeavors. The indignities demonstrated by the anti-women/anti-choice establishment are a direct affront to TST tenets and ideology. With TST’s new federal recognition as a religion along with the increased notoriety via the Hail Satan? documentary, TST can make a real, positive impact, unclasping the stranglehold misogynistic leaders currently have on this nation. Concrete efforts are already being made by individual chapters, and individual TST members have been networking via social media groups and forums to provide transportation and/or board for people who need to travel to obtain abortions. 

We need the leadership, direction, and organization of TST to counter and dismantle this patriarchal, hateful, and twisted regime before it goes too far. Their endgame is to overturn Roe v. Wade and the results of that would be catastrophic. I believe in The Satanic Temple, the strength of its community, and the purity of its vision. With each chapter working together to ensure the safety, autonomy, and freedom for anyone who is affected by these attacks on reproductive justice, the current bastion will weaken and crumble, and the march towards a logical and truly secular nation can begin.               

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The Role of Religious Community, a.k.a. “Church” Family, in TST

A local chapter member and friend who I frequently run into at neighborhood metal bars, burlesque shows, and—really, everywhere, it seems, except TST events and meetings—recently explained he’d been absent because he felt he wasn’t “doing” anything at the meetings themselves or contributing substantively to the organization. My first impulse was to suggest outcome-oriented, irrefutably productive acts of devotion like volunteering at a reproductive rights fundraiser or writing a blog post for our website.  Since there are a fair number of TST members—many of whom lack prior affiliation with any religious group–were drawn in by its political activism and engagement in public affairs, there can be a perceived urgency to have a measurable impact socially, legally, environmentally, and so on, or else languish in futility, orbiting unnoticed.

Because my scruples were tequila’d into submission, I suggested the obvious before recognizing (to myself or to him) that a wonderfully salubrious social impact of TST occurs within the chapter itself, not just in the ethical deeds we extend to the vestiges of civilization. I’m referring to what other religions term “church family,” and it’s a major reason why non-believers and skeptics can be found in traditional houses of worship on Sunday mornings or whenever it is they congregate.

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