Satan, it seems, has a Marshall plan, and the Satanist students of Marshall University have a few things to teach their neighbors. In part, that Satan is the author of confusion–and it’s quite a relief that he is.

In case you hadn’t heard, the latest national religious nontroversy is the Satanic Temple’s West Virginia chapter establishing a student group at Marshall University.

“Our goal is to participate in a larger discussion involving religious freedom and engage in the public marketplace of ideas. Viewpoint diversity is a part of what makes academia great,” chapter heads write, advertising “discussions, lectures, movie nights, and other events.”

The announcement included the Seven Tenets and news about the first meeting at the student center, a little over a week ago. You’ll no doubt notice that all of this seems fiendishly…normal. Just some everyday folks having everyday Satan.


marshall university satanic temple

“Is everyone here? Can we take roll?”


Marshall is a public research university. Namesake John Marshall helped establish the principle of judicial review in 1803’s Marbury v Madison, which affirmed the courts as an equal branch with oversight over the others–a notion I suspect is not all that popular in West Virginia today.

The census says the city of Huntington is 87 percent white, and Pew Forum estimates that 78 percent of the state identify as Christian, with a plurality of evangelicals.

Non-Christian religions make up only three percent of the population, and atheists only one percent. One percent of people often exercise undue cultural influence in America, but sadly not in this case.

Point being, if you’re a pearl-clutching white evangelical type, you should feel as safe and secure in Huntington as buried in the fleece of the lamb of god. (Opioid pandemic notwithstanding I guess…).

So naturally they all responded to the Temple news by freaking the fuck out.

Pastor Melissa Pratt–who likes to play a doctor on the Internet but in fact only has “a doctorate in Worship Studies from the Institute for Worship Studies,” though perhaps she plays a very aggressive game of Operation we don’t know about–ended up particularly singled out for her, ah, strenuously worded objection via Facebook.

“Their message sounds good, but evil lurks below the surface,” Pratt prated in a breathless missive about the meeting.

Let’s really ponder that sentiment for a moment: “Sure, this evidently good thing may seem good, but if you presume the inverse of all of that then it appears quite sinister.” Fucking fascinating.

“I will always be in opposition to anything Christ opposes,” she adds, which is perhaps not the makings of a diverse educational perspective for Marshall University students. She concludes with the hashtag “This better not be censored,” then hilariously deletes the whole thing herself later.

“West Virginia in the lower county’s [sic] has a very large Satanic present [sic]. Very big,” one of her followers added. Which is annoying because I actually just broke my “citation needed” button and the new one won’t be ready for two weeks.

“Satan rules the Earth,”  another says, which is definitely not something reflected in those Pew numbers. “I truely [sic] think we are living the end times,” which makes sense, as movie nights are indeed one of the foretold signs.

Possibly my favorite response: “We are in perilous times and as Protestants and Catholics we must engage together against the Enemy’s attacks.”

This is really hilarious because for most of the past 500 years Protestants and Catholics have done almost nothing but accuse each other of being the devil. In fact the Oxford English Dictionary records the earliest extant uses of the word “Satanist” as smears by Catholic and Protestant sects against each other.


marshall university satanic temple

Satan falls for the Pope’s old “Got your nose” routine every time.


This is all par for the course–not even worth commenting on normally. But one statement stood out to me for odd reasons: “Saran [sic] is the author of confusion.” 

This fellow is almost but not quite quoting the Bible. Rather, 1 Corinthians 14 says, “god is not the author of confusion, but of peace”–really hate it when a writer plugs his other works right in the middle of a book, such a tacky move.

If you’re confused about that phrasing, it’s worth noting that most of the countless other translations substitute words like “disorder”  for “confusion.” The 1582 Douay–Rheims Bible prefers “dissension.” See, 1 Corinthians 14 is a chapter about how to create uniformity, specifically in a church.

This is the same chapter that tells them “it is a shame for women to speak in the church” for “they must be under obedience,” and it cautions that anyone who ignores these instructions should himself be ignored. By “peace,” they mean homogeneity.

“Confusion” means keeping your own point of view. Only Satan sponsors your right to an opinion. Again, this isn’t my opinion, this is what neighbors of Marshall University apparently think.

Pratt–who has evidently made a career of speaking in church, “confusion” notwithstanding–noted with dismay that the Satanists who commented on her pablum “revealed many opinions about why the organization exists.” She felt this was a real crack in their armor, the fact that some of them may believe different things.

“Either your [sic] for Christ or against Him, no middle ground,” another Pratt prat confirmed in the comments. No room for nuance under his eyes.

So it seems that the word the Satanic Temple of West Virginia used that really touched a nerve was not “Satan.” It was “diversity.”

I’m not at all surprised if the Satanists who commented on Pratt’s pranks were not of one mind. Other than perhaps being unified in their opinion that she could walk into an empty room and probably still not be the smartest person there.

In fact I find it a relief. It’s easy enough to say that we’re all freethinkers who prize our individual perspectives. Lots of people like to say that kind of thing. It’s even a bit of a buzzword.

But how do we actually LIVE that? Well, it’s easy: All you have to do is disagree. The simplest thing in the world.

Not all disagreements are good, of course. But disagreement itself–the reality of it as a mere act of everyday insubordination–is. It has to be, because what even is the alternative?

Confusion I can live with. Because Satan is not the author of concession.


marshall university satanic temple

“We all have our differences. But mine are better.”