BOISE, Idaho — Satanic Idaho is a self-described, "atheistic altruistic satanic religious organization," that has planned a "gender affirming ceremony" to take place at the Idaho State Capitol.
"We, like a large majority of self-identified Satanists, do not believe in a literal Satan but use the literary metaphor to represent our goals of compassion, justice and wisdom," the co-facilitator/cleric of Satanic Idaho, Rowan Astra said. "We do private socials, mutual aid work throughout the community and now, public events. We also have members who are simply allies and support religious freedom and freedom from religion."
The "ritual ceremony" is on Monday, Feb. 13 in the second floor rotunda of the Capitol building from 3 to 5 p.m. According to the flyer, at the event the organization is offering gender affirmation rituals for people as a way to be more inclusive to all Idahoans.
What is a gender affirmation ritual? According to Astra, it's a ritual where a person can have space to acknowledge stigmas, pain or growth about their previous identity while affirming their new one. Astra said they thought it was especially important in regards to societal, religious and political identities that may try to dehumanize or strip a person's rights away.
"This is a sincere and deeply held religious belief to hold compassion for one's self, as well as bodily autonomy. We believe that people have a right to their bodily autonomy and identity, Astra said, "and if necessary with a medical professional and gender affirming healthcare. We also value the 'other' and more importantly standing up for the 'other' in our religion."
They said that they procured the room at the Capitol on the Idaho Legislature page and that they are aware of the rules that need to be abided by. Additionally, that the room is often rented out by other religious groups.
Astra said there will be a few speakers including them and the other co- facilitator of Satanic Idaho, Shaun Kobal. According to Astra, their role is to assist the community with their shared values. The group, Satanic Idaho, was created to identify with, and be a part, of the Idahoan experience.
KTVB also asked Astra what the group's stance was on a lot of the bills being put forward during this legislative session in Idaho that are centered around the LGBTQ+ community.
"I would say our stance is against these heinous bills, masquerading as 'protecting the children' and demonizing marginalized people, parents, and medical providers," Astra said.
They said the point is to have the event in a public space to celebrate and affirm marginalized identities. During the event, Astra will first perform a ritual for themselves and then whoever wants to be a part of the experience.
"There will be no blood, human or animal sacrifice involved," Astra said. They added that they were doubtful that any legislators would attend.
Speaking to the negative stance that many people have towards the idea of Satanism, Astra said they don't believe in a literal Satan or worship one. Rather, the idea is metaphorical, and that many Satanists see themselves as adversaries against tyrannical authority.
"Bodily Autonomy is also a deeply held value," Astra said. "While blasphemy is a huge component of our imagery, language and activities, I think it's worth noting that many see blasphemy as catharsis against an overall system ... not as a catch-all of every religious theist. Blasphemy should be seen as a re-examination of the supposed sacred. It's not a religion that resonates with everyone, but I don't think any religion does. We believe, regardless of popularity, we are afforded the basic civil liberty of freedom, of or from religion."
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