WHAT IS PATRIOT PRAYER AND WHAT CAN IT LEARN FROM SAN FRANCISCO SATANISTS?
Portland-based right-wing group Patriot Prayer got into a real shitstorm in San Francisco this week. Sometimes it involved real shit.
Two weeks after white supremacists murdered a woman in the street at a rally in Charlottesville, locals are on edge about Patriot Prayer’s planned SF gathering today, which may or may not still happen.
But Patriot Prayer, quick to defend against criticism, insists it’s not about racism. What IS it about? Well, that’s where things get hazy. Persistently, annoyingly hazy.
Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson does say he’s not a white supremacist. In fact, he’s not even white. So there’s that.
This, however, is where all clarity on the matter ends.
Other than (they claim) “not white supremacy,” it’s hard to tell what Patriot Prayer stands for.
“Free speech” is their go-to response. But that’s not very specific. Why would a free speech group be called “Patriot Prayer” anyway? Seems there must be more going on there, right?
Gibson said in a Facebook video last week that he’s “getting tons of questions” from people who “want a mission statement,” so I must not be the only one scratching my head over this. Note that he seems to treat said statement as an unreasonable chore rather than, you know, one of the first things he should have done when founding a grassroots political movement.
When Gibson does cough up answers, they’re rarely very particular.“I’m trying to bring together people who believe in freedom and love,” he says. Which is almost as general as saying nothing at all. He also claims he wants to counter “extremists on both sides,” an unfortunate choice of words these days.
He’s very vocal about “communists,” whom he insists “run the streets and can control people with fear.” On second thought, maybe I prefer the non-specifics after all.
In spite of myself, I’d like to give Gibson the benefit of the doubt. But things like his full-throated support of alleged President Donald Trump—a silo of bigotry wrapped in tanning solution and skin—make me skeptical of his love and unity plea.
Gibson complains he’s oppressed and disenfranchised. But Trump boosters have total political control of the country despite not even amounting to a plurality of voters, so what more can he ask?
As Satanists, we’re obviously very concerned about free speech. And like Patriot Prayer, we spend a lot of time explaining what we’re not about. (Devil worship, baby eating, etc).
In truth, we do sometimes feel we can’t speak up. That’s why I use pseudonyms on this blog and on our podcast Black Mass Appeal.
Much as I don’t like saying so, we might have common ground with some of Patriot Prayer’s complaints.
But since Gibson can’t communicate his agenda, it’s hard to tell. Mind you, when I say “can’t communicate,” I mean that pretty literally: He ad-libbed his mission statement video whilst eating sunflower seeds and nearly choked on one talking with his mouth open.
The lesson here is simple: Make sure people always know exactly what you stand for. At Satanic San Francisco, we are atheistic Satanists empowering secular causes using the mythology of the devil.
We believe in the separation of church and state and in individual liberty, civil rights, secular humanism, sexual freedom, artistic expression, and science.
The myth of Satan (the first revolutionary) inspires us to political activism. Because we’re decisively left-wing, we back groups like Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, St James Infirmary, and Lambda Legal.
We support women, gays and lesbians, transgender people, sex workers, and the mentally ill when they encounter religious prejudices.
And we promote the Seven Tenets of the Satanic Temple. Not because we’re a TST chapter—we’re not—but because they’re good ideas.
We want to create community for like-minded Bay Area Satanists to pursue these principles. Not all Satanist groups share our ideals, but they’re what we trust to protect our rights and lives.
Groups like Patriot Prayer have the right to speak and assemble, even if they’re unpopular. We know all about unpopularity.
But if they expect anything more than barebones rights, they’ve got to figure out what they stand for. And they’ve got to spit it out.