Many Americans regard paying taxes as a necessary evil. If they want to worship Satan, now the IRS has officially given them a tax-exempt place to do so.
The Internal Revenue Service has granted the same non-profit status given to churches, synagogues and mosques to The Satanic Temple, an organization in Salem, Massachusetts, that calls itself America’s first devil-worshiping church. It is now protected by federal laws governing churches that operate as charities.
In a statement this week announcing the status, the group called itself “a non-theistic religious organization dedicated to Satanic practice and the promotion of Satanic rights.” Based in the town that hosted the Salem Witch Trials in the 17th century, the statement added that the group “understands the Satanic figure as a symbol of man’s inherent nature, representative of the eternal rebel, enlightened inquiry and personal freedom rather than a supernatural deity or being.”
Before the ruling, the IRS regarded the group as a “religious organization,” not as a full-fledged church with a place of worship. Churches are generally exempt from filing federal returns under the tax code.
That call hasn’t been included in an $11.3 billion IRS funding bill for fiscal 2020 that’s stalled over arguments about funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico.
The Trump administration has criticized the IRS’s granting of nonprofit church status to the Church of Scientology.
Last year in Little Rock, Arkansas, The Satanic Temple placed a statue of the goat-headed creature Baphomet at the state’s capitol to voice support for the removal of a monument to the Ten Commandments.