The Satanic Temple is now a tax-exempt organization, per a social media posting from the group announcing the change in their status on Wednesday.
According to the post, the Satanic Temple received notice from the IRS this week that their aim to become a tax-exempt religious organization had been recognized.
“This acknowledgment will help make sure the Satanic Temple has the same access to public spaces as other religious organizations, affirm our standing in court when battling religious discrimination, and enable us to apply for faith-based government grants,” an image in an Instagram post announced.
The co-founder of the Satanic Temple, Lucien Greaves, explained the outcome as a positive for the group, which had previously rejected any calls to become tax-exempt.
“[W]e feel that accepting religious tax exemption — rather than renouncing 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,” Greaves said in his statement, per reporting from Patheos. “Satanism is here to stay.”
Contrary to what many may assume, the Satanic Temple is not actually an organization that worships Satan. According to its own FAQ page, the group states, “we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions.”
For those looking to sell their soul, the group writes, “Please look elsewhere.”
Reporting from Vox also describes the group as more of an atheistic group of individuals who gather in a religious way — or, as that news site put it, an “anti-religion religious movement.”
So why did the organization seek tax-exempt status? They did so, according to a newsletter written by Greaves in 2017, in order to get the same recognition that religious organizations receive from federal and local governments.
Refusing to be tax-exempt, while other religious groups continue to exist without paying taxes, “confers a total advantage of ‘none,'” Greaves said at the time.
He added, “[I]t seems reasonable that non-believers should adjust their language accordingly, and insist that atheistic and secular non-profits…are themselves rightful beneficiaries of religious tax exemption as well.”
The group has traditionally fought for the separation of church and state, using symbols of Satan and other demonic deities in order to make their point.
For instance, the Satanic Temple, responding to the placement of the Ten Commandments in front of a courthouse in Arkansas, petitioned and successfully placed a statue of a goat-headed creature named Baphomet there as well, per reporting from Boston 25 News.