BREMERTON – As a flock of black-robed Seattle Satanists walked toward Bremerton Memorial Stadium at the football game Thursday night, hordes of students pressed up against a chain link fence to watch them, cell phones in hand.
Some of the students praised Jesus aloud. A few yelled their support for the dark, solemn Satanists.
The fence – along with a phalanx of Bremerton Police officers – kept the two groups about 20 feet from one another.
On the student side of the fence, one boy in the crowd waved a white cross in the night sky.
On the other side was Lilith Starr, chapter head for the Satanic Temple of Seattle, along with around 17 fellow Satanists.
Throngs of students push up against a chain link fence to view about 17 members of The Satanic Temple of Seattle who attended the game Oct. 29.
One woman, who went by the name “Dice” had brown horns attached to her head. Black hoods shrouded the faces of men in the group.
And the football game that was going on? All but ignored, at least for the 15 minutes that the Satanists stood outside the stadium, chatting with local students who invited them, and with a swarm of TV and newspaper reporters.
One reporter asked if the Satanists would “take the field.”
“No, sorry. We’re pacifists,” Starr said, grinning.
Just then, someone in the crowd yelled out, “May I take a moment of your time to speak about Jesus Christ?”
One of the black-hooded Satanists smiled at the comment.
For Starr, the Temple’s efforts were a victory of sorts, as they had helped pressure the Bremerton School District to draw a clearer line between church and state.
“I really liked it. It was really nice to meet the students that invited us out here,” Starr said afterward.
“This is an abnormal thing to happen,” said “Case,” another Temple member. “This has never happened, where Satanists have shown up at a sports gathering.”
Unusually, the game had a very large police presence. Several signs were placed at the field that read “No unauthorized personnel on field for the safety of our student athletes.” Yellow “caution” tape cordoned off the field’s borders. Each gated entrance to the field was locked or staffed with security personnel.
Security was so tight that members of the school band and the cheerleaders had to walk all the way to the end of the field and past police to get onto the field. Normally the band and cheerleaders just walked directly from the bleachers to the field.
Joe Kennedy, the Bremerton assistant football coach, was seated in the stands with the rest of the fans to watch the game. On Oct. 28 he had been put on paid leave for praying on the field, in violation of school policy. [LINK: School district places assistant coach on paid leave ]
“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done,” he told Q13 Fox News. “I’m not used to being on this side. I’m used to being beside them.”
Kennedy, a Christian, briefly prayed in the stands with two supporters from Kent, Randy and Sharlene Davis.
“We came out to support him tonight,” Sharlene said.
She and her husband wore patches for the “Christian Motorcycle Association – Good News Riders” on their leather jackets.
“I support what the coach is doing,” Randy said. “This country was founded on religious freedom … I support his right to worship as he chooses.”
Bremerton school advisor Jennifer Chamberlin, who pointed out that she was not officially on the clock while at the game, said the school district office was “phone bombed” by supporters of school prayer, thus tying up all the phone lines. Worse, she said, some of the callers had been making threats.
“Marilyn was called the ‘spawn of Satan’ today,” Chamberlin said of a coworker who took the calls.
Chamberlin said another caller told her they were praying for her house to burn down.
Chamberlin is the daughter of a Navy step-dad and grew up all over the country, including in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She said she had been bullied by religious folks when she was in high school because she did not share their faith.
“So when this started happening here in Bremerton it was very familiar to me.”
“I’m really super proud of our kids because they took back their school,” she said. For Chamberlin the issue is clear – public schools were not the appropriate place for endorsing one of the world’s 4,200 different religions.
“Those values – we need to be teaching to our children at home.”
“My view is that it’s not OK to entangle religion with public education. It’s agains the establishment clause of the First Amendment to establish a religion. And by a public employee praying in public that’s a form of establishing a religion. That’s not OK,” she said.
Chamberlin said she was worried when she first heard the Satanists might hoof their way to the football game. She thought they might make a mockery of “everything.”
But her son told her the group was really more like atheist activists in wolf’s clothing.
“He said, ‘Mom, do you really know who they are?’ And I said, ‘No. They’re Satan worshippers, right?’ And he said, ‘No mom, it’s extreme atheism and they’re coming to protest and bring awareness to the cause of separation of church and state.'”
Chamberlin said the ordeal turned out to be a bit of a “civics lesson” about the First Amendment for students.
“I’m extremely proud of the kids … because I feel like it pushed the administration to move toward the right action.”
Also during the event, the Bremerton Knights football team defeated the Sequim Wolves 27-20.
Members of The Satanic Temple of Seattle walk toward the entrance to the football field Oct. 29.
A new sign proclaims “NO UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ON FIELD FOR THE SAFETY OF OUR STUDENT ATHLETES.” Several of the signs were placed at the stadium. A heavy police presence was also at the game. The field was also cordoned off with yellow “caution” tape. Entry points to the field were locked or staffed with security to prevent unauthorized access.
Another sign on the field.
Bremerton Knights football fan Joe Kennedy, center, prays with Sharlene and Randy Davis, of Kent, during the game Oct. 29.
Members of the Bremerton High School band walk all the way to the very end of the field fence to gain access to the field to play during the game. Due to much tighter security than usual meant to prevent unauthorized access to the field, the band members and cheerleaders had to walk to the end of the field and past a police checkpoint.
Numerous media outlets attended the game.
Hooded members of The Satanic Temple of Seattle stand near the Bremerton Memorial Football field ticket kiosk during the Oct. 29 game against Sequim.
A Satanic Temple adherent displays religious attire typical of their particular faith, which is just one of an estimated 4,200 different religions in the world.
Members of The Satanic Temple of Seattle walk past police while leaving the football game Oct. 29. They attended the game for about 15 minutes to talk with supporters and media.