By Brandon Showalter, Senior Investigative Reporter
Published: June 12, 2022
-The Christian Post
The Satanic Temple was stripped from the roster of an Idaho pride event on Saturday after sponsors, who were seemingly supportive of an event that also targeted impressionable children, started bowing out amid backlash for including a group that has Satan in its name.
Billed as “family-friendly” and sponsored by nationally and locally recognized groups — the Idaho chapter of the ACLU, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, a local library, the state police for District 1 and the Ecumenical Catholic Communion Church — the Satanic Temple Idaho (TST) participation was to include something it calls “unbaptisms.”
According to the “Pride in the Park” event website, “family/children’s activity area” was part of its celebration in downtown Coeur d’Alene on Saturday and lauded TST as one of its sponsors before removing the group.
Screenshots posted by the LibsofTikTok account, including an Idaho Tribune headline that said sponsors were fleeing after learning that TST was involved. A TST Idaho member acknowledged in a Twitter post that organizations were removing their sponsorships in response to its inclusion.
In a Facebook post advertising the event that has since been removed, TST Idaho said that its members would still be attending the event and would “have merchandise for sale, be offering support to our community and performing unbaptisms for those interested! Just know, Satan loves you for you! Hail Satan!”
The sacrament of baptism is a rite within the Christian faith wherein believers in Jesus make a public proclamation of their faith and are submerged under the waters signifying their old life dying and being raised to newness of life in Christ. In Christian traditions that practice infant baptism, also known as paedobaptism, water is poured over the head of the child and represents the seal of God’s covenant.
TST’s promotion of so-called unbaptisms is reminiscent of a phenomenon that emerged several years ago in a practice known as “debaptism.”
As The Guardian reported in 2009, in the U.K., the National Secularist Society sold certificates of debaptism for those seeking to renounce their christening and wanted something tangible to show for it. At the American Atheists Convention in 2010, Edwin Kagin, who likens religion to child abuse, performed so-called debaptism rituals for those wishing to reject the faith into which they were baptized by turning on a hairdryer labeled “Reason and Truth,” blowing the hot air in the person’s face to symbolically dry up the baptismal waters that were once poured over their heads.
More recently, Religion News Service reported in November that the phenomenon was growing in popularity in Italy, a historically Catholic nation. Though technically impossible to erase, as each baptism is a historical event, what the process of debaptism yields is the formalization of the person’s open abandonment of the church.
“[F]or many, abandoning the church is a statement against its positions on LGBTQ rights, euthanasia, and abortion,” RNS reported.
The Idaho drag festivities as part of so-called pride month comes on the heels of viral footage of an event in Dallas called “Drag the Kids to Pride” in which children were seen giving dollars to drag performers at a nightclub. Illuminated in pink neon letters in the background was a sign that read: “It’s Not Gonna Lick Itself.”
In response, Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton tweeted that he would put forward a bill prohibiting taking minors to such shows. “Protecting our own children isn’t enough, and our responsibility as lawmakers extends to the sexualization that is happening across Texas,” he said. The Dallas drag show where children were seen in the audience was but one such event, however.
The LibsofTikTok account was suspended and then reinstated after it exposed that numerous drag shows aimed at children were being held across the country. Critics like Slaton and others say the events are tantamount to grooming and that the shows are not appropriate for children.
“Pride just isn’t meant for children to celebrate and be part of, especially these really young children like we were seeing in these videos that came out of the event,” said Kelly Neidert, executive director of Protect Texas Kids, in an interview with The Christian Post.
“They have no idea what they’re involved in. They don’t know what any of this means,” she added. “In my opinion, a lot of these pride events, especially the drag queen stuff, is inherently sexual, and kids just shouldn’t be exposed to that.”