The Satanic Temple has taken a public stance against a Texas town's decision to reinstate corporal punishment.

The Satanic Temple paid for billboard space in Three Rivers, TX to protest the school board's decision to bring back paddling. The billboard states "Our religion doesn't believe in hitting children," and includes the web address of their national movement to end corporal punishment.

Satanic Temple
Satanic Temple

According to the Dallas Morning News, the school board decided in July to reinstate paddling as authorized punishment for any infraction of the code of conduct, even dress code violations. Elementary school campus coordinator Andrew Amaro initiated discussion to bring back the punishment, citing its effectiveness when he was a student in the town,

It was an immediate response for me. I knew that if I got in trouble with a teacher and I was disrespectful, whatever the infraction was, I knew I was going to get a swat by the principal.

The Satanic Temple, which does not worship Satan as a deity and rejects all supernatural concepts of religion, has spoken out against the punishment policy as a violation of one of their core tenants: "one's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone". Lucien Greaves, a spokesperson for the Temple, said,

Hopefully, our billboard will give pause to passers-by who will be forced to confront the fact that the school district is being operated by depraved and ignorant sadists who have no business being in education.

Texas is one of fifteen states that allows the use of corporal punishment, and one of three states, along with Mississippi and Alabama, that makes up more than half of the nation's use of the punishment. Former U.S. Education Secretary John King wrote to state leaders last November asking them to discontinue the practice. In this letter, King noted that research has found that the practice is actually harmful to students and disproportionately impacts minority students and students with disabilities. King also argued that past practice as a sense of tradition is not justification for the continued use of the punishment.

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