ENDWELL, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Parents of students at Homer Brink Elementary received a surprise yesterday when they’re students returned home from school, their kids have been invited to join an After School Satan Club.

The club, which is not affiliated with the Maine-Endwell Central School District, is operated by The Satanic Temple, a group of people who are secular atheists who do not believe in an actual devil.

The organization is setting up the club at the invitation of a Home Brink parent who contacted them in November in response to the Christian-affiliated Good News Club which has been operating at the school since last school year.

While they’re not allowed to teach their specific religious tenets, ME Superintendent Jason Van Fossen says the district’s attorneys believe they cannot forbid either organization from holding after school events in their buildings unless they ban all clubs.

Van Fossen says the administration and board ultimately decided that it would be better to allow the Satan Club than to do away with all clubs.

He says they’re caught in the crossfire of a national culture war.

“We are absolutely a pawn on a much larger chessboard. It’s unfortunate that we have to be on that stage because ultimately, at the end of the day, we’re being forced to make a decision that impacts longstanding relationships with organizations that have used our facilities.”

The Satanic Temple counters that it only goes where it’s been invited to serve people who want similar afterschool activities as Good News without the Christian affiliation.

June Everett is the Satan Club Campaign Director.

She says the students will participate in arts and crafts and STEM activities under the tutelage of Satanic Temple volunteers from their Albany congregation.

Everett says that since the fliers went home yesterday, she’s received interest and positive feedback from Home Brink parents.

She pushes back on the suggestion that they remove Satan from the club’s name.

“It is sponsored by The Satanic Temple, and it is run by non-theistic Satanists, so we feel that to call it something different would feel that we’re not being honest about who we are. We want to be transparent. We want to be out there. We are proud to be in our communities. We want people to know that we are here, we are everywhere and we are doing positive, amazing things around the country.”

Nevertheless, Everett would not reveal the name of the parent who invited the club, nor will they allow the media to visit one of the club meetings.

The first meeting of the club is scheduled for March 16th.

Everett and the district stress that students must have parental permission to attend.

Van Fossen says he expects a number of concerned parents and residents to attend the next ME school board meeting on March 9th where the district will explain its policy.

You can read Van Fossen letter about it to the community at me.stier.org.