One thing that I’m pretty big on is separation of church and state. I was raised with Eastern religions in my environment thanks to my hippie parents, but I grew up in Mid-western suburbia where science and history class teachers felt fairly comfortable saying that they really supported New Earth or Creationist viewpoints; where the gym teacher felt comfortable disseminating anti-abortion propaganda; and where “non-denominational” prayers before games and at assemblies were not uncommon.
I was always hyper aware of an understood if unofficial endorsement of Protestant Christianity as the correct worldview by my suburb’s and school’s administration. And that, frankly, frightened me. Not only did I grow up knowing jataka tales and Zen koans, but I also grew up with Nova and went to Space Camp when I was in elementary school. I very much knew the basic tenants of scientific process and the commonly accepted scientific theories of the day in many prominent fields such as astronomy, biology, and geology.
So sitting in a classroom or assembly hall and hearing people telling other, less informed and likely more impressionable kids “facts” that were based solely on their religious convictions or worse influence children to see people of other viewpoints and religious backgrounds as outside the group and worthy of at least disdain really struck fear in me. I mean literal fear.
I read Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible when I was in my teens and his open and candid protest against the conformity and willful ignorance demanded by a society that either does or borders on overtly supporting one religious worldview over others and often over reason itself really struck a positive chord with me. And I have to say that I very much support the actions of the modern Satanic Temple as they stand to date to equalize the playing field. As Buddhists, we often are less confrontational and take a hands-off approach to attempts by de facto theocratic administrations to preempt the right of everyone to understand the most well established facts of this world and to hold their own opinions and traditions for those much less established. I think sometimes standing up and distributing a Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities to show those on the other side how it feels to have benign and yet contradictory religious views forced on captive audiences and why separation of church and state is so important.