As Florida members of The Satanic Temple prepare to make use of a new bill passed on Thursday that allows religious organizations to send chaplains to give services in schools, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is making it clear they are unwelcome to do so, despite qualifying as a tax-exempt religious organization in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

“Some have said that if you do a school chaplain program, that somehow you’re going to have Satanists running around in all our schools,” DeSantis said at a presser at a high school in Kissimmee.

“We’re not playing those games in Florida,” DeSantis went on. “That is not a religion. That is not qualifying to be able to participate in this.”

Should DeSantis make this exclusion become law, it could become a showdown along religious rights in state courts and possibly the Supreme Court. The Satanic Temple already told the Tallahassee Democrat in February that it would attempt to send its religious servicepeople to Florida’s schools. They followed up after the bill passed that they still had the same intention.

“Despite DeSantis’s contempt for religious liberty, the Constitution guarantees our equal treatment under the law, and DeSantis is not at liberty to amend the Constitution by fiat, at whim,” said Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves. “He just invited Satanic chaplains into public schools, whether he likes it or not.”

Kissimmee is also where DeSantis signed HB 1317, a bill which granted schools greater access to “Patriotic And National Observances, Ceremonies, And Organizations.”

Shane Devine is a writer covering politics and business for VT and a regular guest on The Unusual Suspects. Follow Shane’s work here.

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