Halloween Special: Exclusive Interview With Persephone Gray Of The Satanic Temple Colorado
They Are Doing More For Underprivileged Coloradoans Than You Realize.
Well, it's official. After speaking to The Satanic Temple Colorado chapter head Persephone Gray, I'm utterly convinced; if Jesus Christ were alive today, he'd be a Satanist. I know that sounds completely counterintuitive, but since tens of millions of Americans see Donald Trump as a real man of God, how far off could I be? Putting the jab at Trump aside, the facts are what they are: The Satanic Temple Colorado has dedicated itself to both the causes of true religious freedom for all and doing whatever is possible to help those who need it the most. From their support of The Satanic Temple’s fight for reproductive rights nationally to managing local drives providing needed goods to the houseless community of Colorado, they are doing their best to “keep an eye out for our fellow man and helping out as we can” as Gray noted. Of course, this isn’t surprising given that the first of the Seven Tenets of The Satanic Temple—"our set of affirmative beliefs” as Gray calls them—is “One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.”
But, before I go too in-depth into these altruistic pursuits, I need to provide a caveat to prevent any confusion when it comes to TST Colorado and TST International. The Satanic Temple Colorado and The Satanic Temple International—you know, the sect that the documentary “Hail Satan?” was about—are two different things. Said Gray, “The Satanic Temple International organization, the big one, is a separate and distinct organization from The Satanic Temple Colorado. TST Colorado operates as a recognized congregation of The Satanic Temple, but we do not speak for the international organization.”
It's essential to keep this in mind if you ever try to contact TST Colorado and do what I did in asking Gray about the various legal battles that TST International has been involved with in 2022 since Roe V Wade was overturned. For that kind of specific information, Gray said to “sign up for their newsletter.” She continued, “They are really great about sending that out and keeping people up to date via email about what’s going on; if they made a certain move in a case or anything like that, it goes out via email. That’s just thesatanictemple.com or .org, [they’ve] got both.”—plus, no SPAM.
With that said, she was able to give me some updates on the fight for legal and safe abortion access. “So, TST has a number of campaigns that members of TST Colorado work on, and the campaigns are run at the national level. One of those includes a campaign called ‘The Religious Reproductive Rights Campaign.’ This is all publicly available at The Satanic Temple website. [The campaign] has taken a lot of different steps. As far as what’s going on there, one of the big ones that we talked about, even at the congregation level, is the ‘abortion ritual.’ The abortion ritual is supposed to help if you live in a state that has the religious freedom restoration act. The people who do the abortion ritual are supposed to be exempt from any weird state requirements regarding abortion. And if you are in one of those states, and you are a Satanist and you want to do the ritual, and they say ‘no, you can’t do that because of x,y,z, you have to have an ultrasound’ [or] any of these things that are against what we would want as Satanists, then you can contact The Satanic Temple International organization, and they can take it from there and try help you out with that.” She mentioned that the TST website also has an informed consent database, along with form letters for withholding medical information and state medical procedures.
While learning about the various legal battles, it’s important to know that these advancements for saving reproductive rights have all been done without the help of lobbyists or being owned by a politician. One of the things Gray made crystal clear is that both TST International and TST Colorado are completely a-political. Said Gray, “TST Colorado is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt church and so we follow the Johnson amendment. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a provision in the US tax code that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates or specific parties.” Because of this, “TST Colorado does not endorse any political candidate or affiliation.”
This leads to a question. After the fallout of Roe V Wade, every politically aware American now understands the importance of codifying a piece of legislation into law. How can TST Colorado hope to ensure that their efforts in helping the downtrodden come to legal fruition without breaking the Johnson amendment and greasing the political wheel?
Gray clarified this by claiming that “in the past, TST Colorado has had meetings with different legislators in the state of Colorado and with the Governor’s office as well in regards to different things that were going on at the time. But these are just conversations to advocate for us in the community, not necessarily us trying to be involved with a specific politician or lobbying or anything like that. It’s just, ‘hey, you know we’re here, right?’”
So, what exactly are some of the aforementioned charitable contributions that TST Colorado is involved with that require the ears of lawmakers?
When explaining all the current events TST Colorado is currently involved with, the excitement in Gray’s voice was noticeable. “TST Colorado does a lot of local drives like ‘Menstruatin’ with Satan,’ where we provide essential products to houseless community members. That’s something we really consider a big thing. In general, houselessness is a huge issue. We see a lot in Denver, but it’s in other communities as well in the state.” She continued, “We [also] have an active drive called ‘Satan’s Got Your Six.’ We’re working with a veteran’s puppy organization that provides service animals to veterans.” However, it’s the biggest event TST Colorado holds every year that has the potential for the biggest national impact—Saturnalia. “Saturnalia is December 17th at The Marquis Theater in Denver. We’re going to have bands, we’ve got burlesque, and we’re going to do an official ‘unbaptism ritual’ performed by ordained Satanic ministers. And 10% of all of our profits from ticket sales from that are going to go directly to the Religious Reproductive Rights campaign at the national level.” Gray pointed out that all this information, along with other upcoming events in Colorado, can be obtained by signing up for their newsletter on the main page of their site thesatanictemplecolorado.com. She also specifically mentioned that by signing up for the newsletter, you’ll be made aware of upcoming, statewide meetings. “We do some kind of event—whether it be a philosophy discussion, or a ritual, or getting stuff together for a drive—every month in each region. We have a region that meets in the Fort Collins/Loveland area, a region that meets in the Denver metro area, and then we have a region that meets in the Colorado Springs area.”
And don’t worry if you have never been to a Satanic meeting before; the Temple is incredibly non-judgemental. So much so that it isn’t uncommon to see conservative-leaning individuals show up and break-bread with those who are on the liberal end of the spectrum. “In Colorado, we actually have a significant number of members that you would never guess are Satanists. We’ve got soccer moms, we’ve got librarians, we’ve got people that listen to Top 40 [music] and don’t necessarily listen to black metal or anything like that. One of our TST Satanists could literally be sitting next to you on the bus every morning, and you wouldn’t even know it.” Gray said. With membership gaining as a more diverse cross-section of our society due to the good deeds of both TST International and TST Colorado becoming more well-known in mainstream media - the future looks bright. So bright that 2023 will see the Second Annual SatanCon take place in Boston.
When I was wrapping up my conversation with Persephone, she made it clear that the most important thing anyone can do is to vote in the midterm election—especially when it comes to securing the rights we currently enjoy. “We really encourage people looking at who they’re voting for their local and state level representatives because abortion rights are protected to some extent in Colorado, but it’s not in the Constitution yet. We have to vote for people who are going to consider that. Please learn about your representatives and vote.”
We can argue faith until we’re blue in the face, but positive thoughts and positive actions lead to results. From walking the walk when it comes to “being their brother’s keeper” through their various humanitarian efforts in the Colorado community, to being politically active (legally) to ensure that our rights are protected at a legislative level, it goes without saying that The Satanic Temple Colorado is most definitely fighting the good fight.