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The Satanic Temple Is 'Demonizing' St. Junipero Serra Next Week

The Satanic Temple's Baphomet Statue (Photo via Facebook)
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In response to the Pope's canonization of the controversial Junipero Serra, the Los Angeles chapter of the Satanic Temple will demonize him next week. Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan in the 1700s who founded eight of the first 21 California missions, was canonized by Pope Francis on September 23. This was a controversial move for the so-called "Cool Pope" because Serra's mission-building greatly impacted Native Americans, including the Tongva in Southern California. Many Native people were ravaged by disease after being baptized and moved to missions, which were lucrative for those who built them, but not for the Native Americans who worked there. According to KCET, Tongva tribal council member Mark Acuña called Mission San Gabriel "a slave society." Pope Francis also waived the requirement of a second miracle for Serra.

In response to Serra's canonization, the Satanic Temple will "demonize" Junipero Serra in a separate ceremony in San Gabriel next week Tuesday. The group will meet at Plaza Park at 2 p.m., across from San Gabriel City Hall and then will move to Mission San Gabriel Archangel to perform the ritual at 3 p.m

According to a release from the Satanic Temple of Los Angeles:

Between 1768 and 1784 under the leadership of Junípero Serra, tens of thousands of Native American People were brutally enslaved in missions, forced into a life of hard labor for the sole benefit of the Church. Serra, who had a serious penchant for self-flagellation, also led The Spanish Inquisition in his territories, trying residents of the Missions for the crimes of sorcery, witchcraft and devil worship. The Pope's canonization of Serra underscores the hypocrisy of his "liberal" PR campaign in America, an attempt to sway public perception of an organization that still condemns same sex marriage, refuses women the right to govern their own bodies and [has] done little to address the horrific crime of child abuse running rampant in its ranks.
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Only days after his canonization, the cemetery and basilica at the Carmel Mission where Serra was buried were vandalized, according to the L.A. Times. Someone threw paint throughout, and wrote "Saint of Genocide" on a headstone. Sgt. Luke Powell of the Carmel Police Department told the Times that they would be investigating the vandalism as a hate crime because only the tombstones of Europeans, not Native Americans, were targeted.

The Satanic Temple was founded by Lucien Greaves, with its largest and most active chapter in Detroit. Unlike other versions of Satanism, the Satanic Temple practices non-theistic Satanism. This means they do not actually believe that Satan exists, but use his character as the foundation for their ideology, which values logic and autonomy. The Satanic Temple's mission is "to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will."

A lot of their actions done in public are to advocate for the separation of church and state. They recently put up a giant 9-foot-tall statue of Baphomet, a goat deity which serves as a symbol of Satanism, in Detroit in July. The Baphomet statue was originally meant to reside at the Oklahoma State Capitol, in response to Rep. Mike Ritze's donation of a Ten Commandments monument which was placed on the Capitol's front lawn. The monument was eventually removed and Baphomet was unveiled in Detroit instead.

The Satanic Temple has also been vehemently supporting abortion rights in court, declaring autonomy over one's body as part of their religion.

If you plan on attending the event, you can see more details on the Facebook event page here. The Satanic Temple requests you do not park in Mission San Gabriel Archangel's parking lot, as it is definitely not their event.