There is a story about a KKK gathering that was to take place in New York City some years back. After a judge insisted that the Klansmen were not allowed to wear their hoods, very few showed up. In fact, so few showed up, that the Klan had been outnumbered by the protesters, and had to be protected by the New York Police Department .... the black and Hispanic members of the NYPD (it may be a job requirement that the police commission of the NYPD have a particularly nasty sense of humor).
But what happens if they threw a Black Mass and nobody came?
Harvard was going to have a Black Mass off campus. Then they ran into some problems.
A Harvard student group’s planned satanic “black mass” has reportedly been canceled after widespread condemnation from religious and educational leaders, who called the event an affront to the faithful.
MyFoxBoston.com reports that The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club announced Monday it would no longer hold the event because negotiations broke down between the group and the bar where it was scheduled to be held. The club was unable to find another location to hold the mass.
Oh dear. Whyever would a bar in Boston not want to be associated with Satanists? Can't imagine ... unless of course, it was that they wanted to stay in business. There really can be such a thing as bad press.
One has to enjoy the phrasing in the article, though. "Unable to find another location." If that were any more understated, the sentence wouldn't be there.
The Harvard group's reaction?
The group said that the New York-based Satanic Temple, which had co-organized the event, planned to still hold the mass in an undisclosed, private location to "reaffirm their respect for the Satanic faith and to demonstrate that the most powerful response to offensive speech is to shame those who marginalize others by letting their own words and actions speak for themselves."
The ceremony has traditionally been performed by satanic cults to parody the Catholic church, and officials at the Archdiocese of Boston were furious that such an event was originally scheduled to be held on the Ivy League school's hallowed grounds. [Italics added]
The cultural studies club is quite happy to hold a Black Mass, the sole function of which is to worship evil and denigrate the Catholic church, but they took offense at the backlash. What does one say to these people? They want to hold a service worshiping Satan, but everyone else is being the bully?
The local clergy, of course, hadn't been pleased with the event.
“I would say that the event is an attack on the Eucharist, regardless of what the organizers state,” archdiocese spokesman Terry Donilon told FoxNews.com in an email. “The event is offensive to Catholics and people of good will.”
The archdiocese called last week for the event to be canceled.
“For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the church provides clear teaching concerning satanic worship,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places the participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”
Yes, because worshiping Satan only puts them close to evil, as opposed to hip-deep in it. Also, are there constructive works of evil?
There were others who weren't happy with the event.
Robert Neugeboren, dean of students and alumni affairs at Harvard Extension School, said the “deeply disturbing” event is offensive to many at Harvard and called for it to be canceled.
“While we support the ability of all our students to explore difficult issues, we also encourage them to do so in ways that are sensitive to others,” Neugeboren said in a statement. “To that end, the Harvard Extension School has worked with the club’s student leaders to address specific concerns that have been expressed.”
Archdiocese officials had scheduled at least two events in response to the black mass, including a Eucharistic procession in Cambridge. It was unclear whether those events would proceed.
"The best way to combat hateful speech is to overwhelm it with loving and prayerful speech, and that is what we intend to do," Rev. Luther Zeigler, president of the Harvard Chaplains, wrote FoxNews.com in an email.
Another way to combat hateful speech is to file a lawsuit, but that's neither here nor there.
What was the club's rationale for this?
The student club, meanwhile, said in a statement that the performance’s purpose was not to denigrate any religion or faith, but instead to “learn and experience” the history of different cultural practices.
In a statement to the Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, the cultural club said the event would not silence anyone.
“The complaints are founded metaphysical concerns, and there is simply a disagreement with regards to how this faith is practiced,” club organizers wrote The Harvard Crimson. “The flawed assumption seems to be that because Satan is the representation of evil incarnate for some faiths, that Satanist[s] are part of a hate group and their practice devoted toward denigrating Catholicism … The point of this event is to challenge the stigmatization of marginalized groups.”
How about they start by destigmatizing the Mormons? The Jehovah's Witnesses? Celion Dion? Why start with a "faith" that, according to their own canon, places an emphasis on vengeance, or answers annoyance with cruelty? Why even start with something that states that there is no equality for all? The Black Mass itself is designed as a ritualized form of abject hate towards another group. Could the Church of Satan be marginalized because it belittles the majority of the human race?
This is the equivalent of having a cultural event by burning a cross in the Harvard yard, and yet this Harvard group is trying to play the victim card. It's a little stupid.
Also, anyone who spends five minutes on the Wiki page for the Church of Satan will find that they actually do want to destroy all churches, through taxation, and yet the club claims that the event would silence nobody. Sure.
Then there was the backlash.
Nearly 400 Harvard students and 100 alumni reportedly signed a petition opposing the event.
“This form of satanic worship not only ridicules the central practice of Catholicism, the Mass, but it also mocks and offends all who have faith in Christ,” the petition reads. “Far from being an event that promotes an understanding of “cultural practices,” it, in fact, promotes contempt for the Catholic faith and religion generally. We are Catholics, other Christians, and supporters of genuine tolerance and civility, and we are offended and outraged this event has been permitted to take place at Harvard.”
Considering how many people pushed back against the event in the first place, the student club should be overjoyed. After all, there were peaceful petitions and protests, and not even one bit of violence happened. And the next time they want to destigmatize a fringe group, they can start with a group that does not itself seek to marginalize others.