Saucon Valley school shutdown linked to Satan Club decision
HELLERTOWN, Pa. — A threat that closed schools Wednesday in the Saucon Valley School District was connected to the decision to allow the After School Satan Club use of building space, the superintendent said.
Schools reopened Thursday, and Superintendent Jaime Vlasaty said when they do it will be with an increased police presence and private security, she said in a letter to the Saucon Valley community.
- The After School Satan Club is sponsored by The Satanic Temple, a 'non-theistic religion'
- The school district says it lawfully cannot deny use of its facilities
- The first club meeting for kids is scheduled March 8
She said schools closed Wednesday and she contacted police because someone left a voicemail Tuesday afternoon referencing the decision about the club.
In a separate message issued Tuesday, Vlasaty said the district authorized the Satan Club to use room in Saucon Valley Middle School in accordance with the law and school board policy.
“The Saucon Valley School District is committed to open communication and for that reason you are receiving this letter to ensure you have accurate information regarding news from our campus,” Vlasaty said Tuesday afternoon.
“Religious groups are among those the district has allowed to rent our facilities over the years. By law, the district cannot discriminate among groups wishing to use the SVSD facilities.”
“By law, the district cannot discriminate among groups wishing to use the SVSD facilities.”Superintendent Jaime Vlasaty, in a letter to the community
Vlasaty, who did not return a message seeking comment, said the After School Satan Club is not a district-approved club.
“It is very important to note that the district does not endorse any of the groups or content affiliated with groups that host after-school events on district property,” her letter said.
A flier about the club circulated early this week on Facebook in a public group called Hellertown, PA, which has 225 members.
The flier says the club is sponsored by The Satanic Temple, a “non-theistic religion that views Satan as a literary figure who represents a metaphorical construct of rejecting tyranny and championing the human mind and spirit.”
The first meeting is set for March 8.
June Everett, a minister in The Satanic Temple and campaign director for the After School Satan Club, said the group are not devil worshippers but instead stands up to "tyrannical authority."
“At the end of the day, we’re checking privilege, because so many people in our country feel like this is our God-given right to have this special privilege to, you know, public spaces, and to do certain things,” she said. “And when we come along, we follow the same laws, and it’s like ‘Wait, you can’t do that.’
“I mean, we do point out the hypocrisy in our laws, and we point out the hypocrisy in the Christian faith,” she said. “Here are people that are supposed to be following a faith that is all about loving and kindness and giving to your neighbor and sharing love, and then all of the sudden, a symbol and a word comes into the community and you get death threats.”
According to the sign-up flier, children who attend club meetings will learn about benevolence and empathy, critical thinking, problem solving, creative expression, personal sovereignty and compassion. Activities include puzzles and games, arts and crafts, and science and community service projects.
The club is open to ages 5-12. Students from other school districts can attend with a signed permission slip, according to the flier.
The club exists in other parts of the country but this is the first one in Pennsylvania, according to the Facebook post.
Within a day of the flier’s circulation and hours after Vlasaty’s message, the school district announced its facilities would be closed Wednesday because of “a potential threat.”
Reporter Julian Abraham contributed to this report.