Five months after making viral headlines for its legal battle with Netflix over certain demonic imagery in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the Satanic Temple has been officially recognized by the U.S. federal government as a church.
As a bona fide religious organization, the Temple is now exempt from paying both state and local taxes. It is the first Satanic religious body in the history of America to be recognized as a church. A statement on the Temple's website reads:
"This acknowledgement will help make sure that the Satanic Temple has the same access to public spaces as other religious organizations, affirm our standing in court when battling religious discrimination, and allow us to apply for faith-based government grants."
Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves added:
"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. Satanism is here to stay."
The Satanic Temple came into the public eye in early November of last year when it filed a $50 million lawsuit against Netflix. The institution argued that the fantasy series had appropriated Satanism for its own benefit by depicting a statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed deity that the Temple claimed was under copyright. Netflix later settled with the Satanic Temple for an unconfirmed figure.
During the controversy, another organization, the Church of Satan, released a statement in which the group sought to distance itself from the Temple by voicing its nonchalance about Sabrina's Baphomet imagery, describing the Temple's lawsuit as one of many "childish PR stunts."