Satanists earned a victory after convincing a Pennsylvania school district to remove a student dress code ban on clothes that are “satanic in nature.”
The Rose Tree Media School District, just west of Philadelphia, had included a ban on satanic clothing, along with clothes those that are sexually suggestive, obscene or promote violence. But earlier this week, the superintendent issued a statement that the dress code’s reference to satanic clothing would be removed, reported WPVI-TV, an ABC TV station in Philadelphia.
“Although we have had no complaints or concerns brought forward by any student, parent, or resident we will remove this language from our current dress code information in the student handbook,” the announcement read, according to WPVI.
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Joseph Rose, founder of the Philadelphia area group Satanic Delco, began contacting the school district about a month ago after learning about the dress code language from parents with children in the district. The wording is discriminatory, he argued.
“The idea that a public school, which really isn’t a place for religion to begin with, would allow all but one religion is just so obviously unfair and unconstitutional,” Rose told WPIV-TV.
The group Satanic Delco does not “promote a belief in a personal Satan,” it says on its website. “We believe that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. … To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. Satanists should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world – never the reverse.”
The school district made the correct move, Villanova law professor Ann Juliano told WPIV-TV. “They recognize that there could be religious beliefs at issue, not that there are, but there could be, and therefore they would take it out,” she said.
Rose is currently fighting similar dress code wording – a ban on clothing or jewelry with satanic or cult references – at Garnet Valley School District, also near Philadelphia.
“I’m glad the (Rose Tree Media School District) made the right choice, and I only hope it sends a message to other schools that freedom of expression has to be given equally,” Rose told USA TODAY.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Satanists get PA school district to change ‘satanic’ dress code ban