This is a documentary that will shock you with its significance. I watched people in the theatre applaud when this film ended.
With a film title that will likely alienate a large number of movie fans, with Hail Satan? director Penny Lane has brought to the screen a stunning mockumentary that will both challenge and entertain you. If there was an Oscar award in a category entitled Who Would Have Thought This Was Possible? this film would win hands down.
Known as the Satanic Temple and founded in 2013 by an engaging Lucian Greaves, Satan was used as a method to challenge our government’s gradual use of God in a fashion that resembles Sharia Law in many Muslim countries. Despite the fact that a separation of Church and State is a bedrock principal embraced by our Founding Fathers, we have gradually allowed religious influence since the 1950s to result in the phrase “In God We Trust” appearing on our U.S. currency, the addition of “One nation, under God” that was included in our Pledge of Allegiance and the accepted standard of “So help me God” that now becomes part of oaths that all Americans must take in many courts of law.
Centering his highly criticized religion in Salem, MA (for reasons that are all too obvious), Mr. Greaves’ first act was to hold a press conference in 2013 where he praises Florida Governor Rick Scott’s argument that prayer should be used in public schools. In doing so, he was actually mocking the Governor, arguing that this policy opened the door to also require Satanic religious teachings in our schools.
But Mr. Greaves and his loyalists didn’t stop there. Holding press conferences where some of them actually wore thorns attached to their heads, they moved to Arkansas to challenge the state government’s erection of a Ten Commandments monument on government property. He vociferously and rightfully argued that if the Ten Commandments monument was to be built then it required that his seven-foot granite monument depicting the goat-headed Baphomet with two young children also be installed.
While the value of this film centered on the Satanic Temple’s attempt to fight the religious assault on Church-State separation as noted above, Director Lane also took the time to review the treatment of the Devil over the centuries. There were several incredibly funny scenes, particularly the one where you watch the Devil approach Jesus during his 40-day fasting trip through the desert. In that regard, a member of the Satanic Temple found fault with criticizing the Devil for offering water to Jesus as nothing more than “a temptation”. Among other things, he noted that it was unfair to condemn anyone under these circumstances. After all, wouldn’t you find fault with any person who simply passed by a struggling person alone on sand dunes and let him die of thirst!
You will also see that the Satanic Temple had their own version of the Ten Commandments known as the Seven Tenants. They begin with the admonition “One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.” Quite frankly, this made the Devil worshippers sound more religiously dedicated than the powerful Catholic Church who have for decades harbored child molesters that were allegedly serving God.
The power of Ms. Lane’s film should appeal to all of those who respect our Constitution as it focused on how our Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision permitted organizations to deny contraceptives if members opposed it based upon religious reasons. The film’s genius is seen with it pointing a cinematic finger at how our country is gradually allowing Constitutionally protected rights like abortion, gay marriage and vaccines to be interfered with by decisions based solely on religious beliefs.
If the separation of Church and State means anything then people in the business of selling pastries cannot refuse service to a gay married couple. The same thing is true for high schools like Roncalli here in Indianapolis who attempt to fire gay, married employees on religious grounds. If that is your religious belief, fine, but then get out of the pie business and stop operating alleged religious based schools that take state and federal taxpayer’s money.
While I doubt that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would have been early members of the Satanic Temple, they would roll over in their graves if they saw the religious influence on a Constitution that they both inspired and drafted.