An atheist group that calls itself The Satanic Temple has created an educational grant called "The Devil’s Advocate Scholarship" for high school students seeking higher education.
“The Satanic Temple is proud to announce its scholarship that awards students who champion individualism, free-thought, empathy, and other noble aspects of The Satanic Temple's mission to better society as they pursue higher education,” reads The Satanic Temple website.
To apply for the scholarship, applicants must be 2020 high school graduates and answer either one of two questions. The first question asks what initiatives they have undertaken that are consistent with the group's tenets and mission. The second question asks students to “discuss and describe in detail any one of the teachers who crushed your spirit, undermined your self-confidence, and made you hate every minute you were forced to be in school.”
Malcolm Jarry, co-founder of the Massachusetts-based group, told CNN that the scholarship was created after a high school student sent an email requesting a letter of recommendation for a religious scholarship her school was offering.
"I was disappointed that she did not receive the scholarship and saw that moment as an opportunity to offer our own scholarship that reflects our values," Jarry told CNN.
"In addition to promoting our values by honoring those who engage in pro-social rugged individualism, the scholarship allows students a rare opportunity to be critical of an institution that only rewards sycophantic adulation."
Jarry told CNN that the group has already received at least 50 applications for the two $500 scholarships.
"Students are often expected to praise their schools in spite of the fact that many students endure unconscionable abuse at the hands of faculty, administration, and their peers," Jarry said.
"It is common to hear a successful person talk about a teacher who inspired them, but they never acknowledge that after 13 years of schooling they were quite fortunate if they came across just one."
Founded in 2013, The Satanic Temple has 15 chapters in the U.S. and one in Canada. Symbolized by a goat-headed symbol linked to Satan, the group is known for its activism on church and state issues and objects to exclusively Christian religious displays on public property.
In April, The Satanic Temple announced the Internal Revenue Service had granted its request for tax-exempt status, making it comparable to a church. The Satanic Temple explains in a FAQ page that its members do not “believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural.”
The organization has repeatedly petitioned to have a massive Baphomet statue in the Oklahoma state Capitol, which was home to a Ten Commandments statue.
In 2018, the Chicago chapter of The Satanic Temple forced officials to display its "Snaketivity" statue next to a huge Christmas tree in the Illinois Statehouse rotunda.
In 2016, the group announced the launch of “After School Satan Clubs” for elementary schools in response to the presence of evangelical Christian Good News Clubs at public schools.
At the time, Douglas Mesner, spokesperson and co-founder of The Satanic Temple who goes by the name Lucien Greaves, told The Christian Post that the Christian clubs being at public schools "created the need for a counter-balance in the extracurricular options."
Graves claimed that "while the Good News Clubs teach children shame, guilt, and fear — that they will die and be tormented in Hell — the After School Satan Clubs will focus on art projects and education with no religious opinion inserted."
"The program is merely created and operated by The Satanic Temple. There is no attempt to indoctrinate the children,” he said.