The Satanic Temple has been officially recognized as a church by the Internal Revenue Service, three months after taking Sundance by storm as the subject of the documentary “Hail Satan?” According to an announcement from “Hail Satan?” distributor Magnolia Pictures, the temple is now eligible for the tax-exempt status given to other religious institutions.
The latest documentary by Penny Lane, “Hail Satan?” follows the history of the Satanic Temple and its colorful protests in the name of religious freedom and separation of church and state, including a push to have a Baphomet statue placed on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol next to a proposed statue of The Ten Commandments.
“In light of theocratic assaults upon the Separation of Church and State in the legislative efforts to establish a codified place of privilege for one religious viewpoint, we feel that accepting religious tax-exemption — rather than renouncing it in protest — can help us to better assert our claims to equal access and exemption while laying to rest any suspicion that we don’t meet the qualifications of a true religious organization,” said Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves in a statement. “Satanism is here to stay.”
A statement on the temple’s web site said that the organization had recently received notice from the IRS affirming its status.
A spokesperson for the IRS was unable to confirm the recognition to TheWrap, citing regulations.
For years, The Satanic Temple vocally opposed tax exemption for religious institutions; but Greaves said its stance changed after Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring the Department of the Treasury to not take any “adverse action” against religious institutions, including tax penalties and denying them tax-exempt status.
“It appears that now is a time in which a more principled stand is to meet our opponent on equal footing, so to as balance, as best we can, what has been a frighteningly asymmetrical battle,” wrote Greaves in May 2017.
“With the religio-political landscape suddenly so grotesquely deformed from what we previously recognized, it seems reasonable that non-believers should adjust their language accordingly, and insist that atheistic and secular non-profits, advancing a distinct religious opinion and/or opinion upon religion, are themselves rightful beneficiaries of religious tax exemption as well,” Greaves added.