Hail Satan?

Movie Information

The misunderstood social activists of the Satanic Temple get the respect they deserve in Penny Lane's joyful documentary.
Genre: Documentary
Director: Penny Lane
Starring: Jex Blackmore, Nicholas Crowe, Lucien Greaves
Rated: R

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that student-led prayer at public-school sporting events needed to stop. For me, an Asheville teen who had eschewed Christianity in the fourth grade, that decision was a breath of fresh air and a stand against the blatant disregard of the separation of church and state that I saw on a regular basis.

But the winds of change didn’t quite make it down to the South. Prayers continued, my math teacher railed about the sins of being gay, and “We Still Pray” bumper stickers popped up on cars all over town.

I wish the Satanic Temple had been around then. With that savvy band of merry pranksters demanding equal representation for all religions, those invasive prayers might have ended. That’s the effect the Temple has in the documentary Hail Satan?, which chronicles the group’s rise and entry into the political sphere.

You may be familiar with the temple’s attempts to erect Baphomet statues at several state capitol buildings in response to legislators pushing to install stone tablets featuring the Ten Commandments. Penny Lane’s film unpacks the fascinating legal, personal and, yes, religious — untraditional as the temple is in that regard — stories behind the debate, focusing on the witty and extremely likable members of the temple. The standout is figurehead and founder Lucien Greaves, who traces the history of Satanism (which is not about worshipping the devil, but rather celebrating individualism and progressive thought) and its stakes in today’s political landscape as it faces down “Christian privilege.”

The story is compelling, and the film itself is fun and inquisitive, interweaving footage from Fox News, government hearings and the Westboro Baptist Church with biblical cartoons. Also in the mix are clips from The Ten Commandments, whose director Cecil B. DeMille drummed up a publicity stunt for the film that inspired many of those Ten Commandments statues all over the U.S.

Through it all, Greaves and his cohorts retain their poise in the face of some serious bigotry. The world right now needs more people like them. And, frankly, that Baphomet statue would look great if they ever manage to put it up.

Now playing at Grail Moviehouse

About Ali McGhee
Author, Multimedia Journalist for AVLtoday, freelance writer, radio DJ, yoga teacher, Enneagram coach...and a few other things.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Hail Satan?

  1. frances4t

    three paragraphs in and the writer is still talking about themselves via some non relevant bs about her own life. Maybe scratch those first three paragraphs and actually write about the documentary. This is supposed to be a review right?

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.