In the revamped Satanism Today segment, hosted by the 9sense podcast, Magister David M. Harris interviews Church of Satan Reverend, Lee Crowell, a working attorney and adjunct professor, about his process to obtain a minister’s license from the state of Virginia in order to legally officiate weddings as Church of Satan clergy.
The most interesting parts are Rev. Crowell challenging the legal aspects that have implied definitions of religion (is the Church of Satan a “legitimate” church; do they have communion; do they assemble in physical buildings, etc.?) coupled with the judge’s moral objections. Crowell’s retelling of the process to obtain the license demonstrates his drive and careful machinations through the legal system.
The case is relevant to how marginal religions with unconventional practices such as the Church of Satan—which has no mandatory physical assembly, no official buildings, no ultimate belief in spiritual beings—address the issue of legal precedent. As most legal definitions of religion are based on Christianity-like religions (as it is with most Western nations), then religions that fall outside of that presumed model face the dual problem of first, being legally recognized as a religion, in order to second, obtain the various protections that freedom of religion laws advocate.
If your religion falls outside of the mold, the legal battle is amplified by moral objections to your religion.
Have a listen to the entire segment. It’s worth the time.