March 1, 2021
Hail Satan - The Satanic Grotto - a chat with Mike Stewart
A chat with Mike Stewart
00:00:23 Joseph Rose: Greetings heathens. Welcome to hail Satan. This is the podcast exploring Satanism, culture and life in general through the eyes of modern Satanists. My name is Joseph rose. I'm a member of The Satanic Temple and I'm also a member of Satanic Delco, the most active, creative group of kick ass Satanists to be found anywhere this side of hell; And speaking of satanic Delco, right now, the group is in the midst of a little project called Heathens Helping Hounds, and we'd really appreciate your help. In the show notes for this episode, you should find some information and links. But basically, we're helping to collect needed items and funds for a local animal shelter. So if you want to participate, we have a simple Amazon wishlist set up, and all of the items will ship directly to us, and we'll be forever grateful. On this episode, I'm going to share an interview I did with Mike Stewart. He was the organizer for the Friends of The Satanic Temple Kansas group, but now he has a group called The Satanic Grotto, and we'll talk to him all about that. First, we've got a few new patrons to say hello to we've got Kip, Jack, Sam, Anthony. And Bill. Thank you guys very much for joining up with us. I appreciate it very much. Of course joining the Patreon is the most direct way to support the show, and it gives you access to bonus content, Satanic Delco's Facebook group, and all the other fun stuff. So thank you guys once again. How about we do some listener mail: Jeremy writes, "I've listened to every episode, and just wanted to say thanks. The "Listen Along to Ghost" episode was really fun. Man, they rock. I have recently been coming to realize how I may have been a Satanist my whole life, but I've always avoided labeling myself as anything in fear of discrimination. I have experience there from trying to come out to people as Bi and being negatively received. I also live in a place that is still learning to be accepting of people's differences, Montana. It's nice to know that there's a community of like minded people out there that want to live life with some goddamn humanity. But thanks for the podcast been really enjoying it". Well, you're welcome Jeremy. It's a bummer that so many people still have to live in fear for how they feel about things. I like to think that we're slowly making progress in that area, but it really is just so damn slow. But thank you for the message. Next up we have Kaley. "What did you think of Luciens recent tweet about Facebook? Doesn't The Satanic Temple use surveillance marketing all the time?" Okay, yes. So I went back and found Luciens recent tweet. And I did find that interesting for sure, when I saw it. Lucian tweeted "Facebook needs to be destroyed, and surveillance marketing outlawed". Now, look, guys, I don't know shit about shit, but isn't The Satanic Temple pretty active on both Facebook and the Facebook owned Instagram? And I don't know about you, but I see a ton of targeted ads or "surveillance marketing", as it's called, from The Satanic Temple all the time. So yeah, it does seem maybe a little hypocritical to be out there virtue signaling against a platform and a form of advertising while you're actively taking full advantage of them. And make no mistake, those targeted ads cost good money. So when we all buy our membership certificates and mugs and Satanic hot sauce, portions of that money are going to targeted ads and directly into Facebook's pocket. What'cha gonna do, I guess that's just the way it is. But yeah, it did seem weird, Kaley, thank you for bringing it to my attention. Phil writes our next question, "My question involves Satanism in the military, and I'm just looking for your thoughts. While the US military currently recognizes 221 religions, Satanism is not one of them. My question began while ordering new dog tags for myself which are required to be worn while in uniform. The information listed on all dog tags is Name, DOD ID number, blood type, and religion. Religion is noted so that in the event a soldier is seriously injured or killed, appropriate last rites and wishes can be followed based on their religious beliefs. I was conflicted on whether to have Satanism, Satanist, or some variant of The Satanic Temple printed on my dog tags. Your Church of Satan episodes only solidified the differences in the Church of Satan and TST in my mind, so I felt I should differentiate between the two, in case my dog tags ever need to speak for me. With a 14 character limit, I ended up going with "Satanic Temple", but I'm curious on whether you feel that I read into this a bit too much or not? Was the distinction worth making? Thanks for all you do". Thank you, Phil. That's an interesting question for sure. First of all, you definitely did the right thing in making the distinction because the two are so very different. The Satanic Temple and the Church of Satan. Now, let's think this through. man with Satanic Temple on his tags is lost in combat. And whoever is in charge of such things sees that, and then what? I have no idea what the protocol is for those situations. But as best I know, The Satanic Temple doesn't have any sort of ritual or instructions in place for that situation. I think it would be great if they did, at least in the form of some suggestions or rough guidelines. I think that would probably be something that gets worked out ahead of time, perhaps through family, or whoever is listed as an emergency contact. But that's an interesting one. I haven't really given thought to that before. Yeah, I don't know. I don't know if anyone within The Satanic Temple is given thought to that, but it would be interesting. I hope they do come up with something for that situation. Now, before we get to the interview with Mike Stewart, I just want to give a heads up that the audio quality on the guest end was not so great. That's just how it goes with phone and zoom calls sometimes. Hopefully, it isn't too distracting. And if it's okay with everyone, our pal Jerry would like to deliver a word from our sponsor.
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Michael Stewart interview begins
00:08:01 Joseph Rose: Alright guys, our guest today is Mike Stewart. He runs an independent group of Satanists called The Satanic Grotto. Welcome to the show, Mike.
00:08:09 Mike Stewart: Hi, thanks for having me.
00:08:11 Joseph Rose: Thanks for offering your time. I appreciate it. I guess we should start- Early on what was your first contact with Satanism, generally?
00:08:20 Mike Stewart: Oh, my first contact would probably have been from my youth pastor back, uh, oh, in the mid '90s or so, sitting in church when he started talking about how evil Satanists are real, and they exist, and there's this book called The Satanic Bible, and how it would really just drag us to hell, the moment we opened it. And of course, being a young man of my stature I was like, "Wow, I really need to find this book."
00:08:50 Joseph Rose: Yeah, it seems like that's pretty similar to the story for many people.
00:08:55 Mike Stewart: Yeah. Yeah. So that was probably my first, and that's uhm I re- you know, I read it in my teens, probably 16, 17, or so. It was revolutionary to me to a point, you know, like, it brought up ideas that I'd never considered, especially having been in Evangelical Church for quite a while and been told this is- this is it, this is what you have to believe. Learning those things were really great. Now, I never joined CoS, I never took it to that level, because there were obvious fallacies and stuff in the book that I didn't agree with, and I didn't want to be associated with. But I think from even that early age, I considered myself at least some form of Satanist, so.
00:09:42 Joseph Rose: How did you first become aware of The Satanic Temple eventually?
00:09:46 Mike Stewart: Um, I think the first time I ever heard about The Satanic Temple had to have been round about the point they first did the Baphomet statue .
00:09:55 Joseph Rose: Right.
00:09:56 Mike Stewart: Uh, I can't remember what year it was. But I remember just a Google link or something popping up, you know, some articles that "Hey, these silly Satanists are doing something fun". And I didn't really... you know, I skimmed the article was like, "Ah, they're crazy, that's fun". And then I just kind of moved on with my life. I didn't come back around to knowing about The Satanic Temple until, oh, probably Hail Satan? was released.
00:10:22 Joseph Rose: Okay. And there was something about what you saw in that film that really made you feel like it was something you'd want to be more involved with?
00:10:31 Mike Stewart: Absolutely 100 percent. Um, and I'll have to... it's a well done movie. It really is. Hearing the tenets vocalized for the first time, I think, really, really spoke to me, I've always been a big fan of that. And when they said that out loud- I really think I probably I shed a couple tears watching that movie, I knew that they were putting a voice to something that I had instinctively known, but didn't have my own vocalization for.
00:11:06 Joseph Rose: Yeah, have you ever had to deal with a coming out as a Satanist? Regarding friends or family or anything like that?
00:11:13 Mike Stewart: I've always sort of been the outcast and the rebel, so there wasn't so much... I do remember when I finally got approval from TST to convert our group over to the Kansas Friends of Group, that I called my mom, just because my mom is somewhat of a respectable person in her circles and in her community, and had even talked about running for, like, local office. So I wanted to give her at least a heads up like, "Hey, so I'm gonna try to endeavor to do this thing", and I just didn't want you to cut it off guard, it wasn't so much coming out, as it was just letting her know, like, I'm gonna get into some stuff, and if it affects you, I'm sorry.
00:11:59 Joseph Rose: But no, you didn't have to deal with too much personal blowback?
00:12:03 Mike Stewart: No, no, I've always pretty much just lived who I am, especially ever since I left church, I've pretty much been unapologetic about it. Tried to live out loud. I know a lot of saying this, you know, keep it low use pseudonyms and stuff. I've always thought of myself as living out loud for those who can't. My job is projected, my family doesn't care. I have the ability to do that, whereas others don't. So I kind of feel it as my, my duty to do so.
Becoming Involved with TST
00:12:35 Joseph Rose: You eventually did become more involved with The Satanic Temple. How did that come about? And what was your role there?
00:12:44 Mike Stewart: Well, it first kind of came about, my best friend came to me and told me, hey, you need to watch this movie, and I watched the Hail Satan, and he said, "I really want to be a part of this. I really want to do this". He knows, he knew that I had organizing experience in my past. I'm a union steward, I've led labor activities, including union campaigns against Fortune 500 companies. I'm not afraid to take on a challenge and organize communities. So he came to me with it, said "I really, really want you to do this". I said, "Well, yeah." And he's a Satanist, too, and me and him kind of we went to church together. So we kind of got into this all together. And I said, "Well, this is crazy. I was like, I'll do it for you, ya know? I'll jump into this with you. I was like, but honestly, how many? How many Satanists are there in Kansas? You know, or in Missouri, which we share a border with.
00:13:41 Joseph Rose: Right.
00:13:42 Mike Stewart I told him I was like, "Look, we're gonna make like 10 new friends, and that's the end of it." I was like, and I honestly thought- I didn't think that there was going to be a market out there. But I started doing some digging. I eventually made contact with Chris Turvey, who was an International Council member, who then put me in contact with Amber, who was then an International Council member and has now or at least last I heard director of the FOG [Friend-of Group] programs. And that took a couple months for me all locked down, and eventually got the permission. We'd been operating the whole time under "The Satanic Grotto" was our name. We got permission to take on the "Friends of TST Kansas" title, and started organizing under their banner, probably... oh, I would say right around Thanksgiving. 2019 ish was the official [inaudible - "cup now", "come down"...].
Organizing a local "Friends of TST" group
00:14:39 Joseph Rose: When you take that step, and you get that permission from The Satanic Temple headquarters to do that, do they start a new group for you?
00:14:50 Mike Stewart: Um, yes and no. There there are certain things that they do such as we had our own Facebook page for the Satanic Grotto, and immediately they asked us to take that down, and that they would be providing us with our own page that Amber was the head moderator in charge. And that would, of course, would have been the FOG Kansas page.
00:15:13 Joseph Rose: Is that a public-facing page? Or is that the, the private group that you guys would would form?
00:15:19 Mike Stewart: Well, and that's- and, it's- it goes to both. They uhm, it is the private group where members- or you know, community folks can come in and all sort of share information and get updates on TST, the actual group, but then they also said that, they would be in charge of like, the public-facing page, the uhm, once you- I guess the point of that is, once you submit yourself to TST, you relinquish any rights to your group, it all goes to TST, TST wants to be in control of it. They want to have the final word, the final censorship of anything that happens.
00:15:58 Joseph Rose: Right. Okay. And so at that point, you were, I guess it wasn't a chapter head at that point is-
00:16:04 Mike Stewart: They use the term "organizer" before you are cleared to be a chapter head, they call you an organizer. That is correct.
00:16:10 Joseph Rose: Right, and that was your role there.
00:16:12 Mike Stewart: Correct. Yeah, I was an organizer for FoG Kansas. It was me, and my co-founder for the Grotto and her pseudonym is "Sweetie"; she asked not to use her name. So Sweetie and I kind of took over and as organizers and started trying to put, you know, a backbone to the structure of how Kansas was going to be run.
00:16:39 Joseph Rose: How does the structure sort of work? Once once you get that in place, they have their admin in the group, they're in charge at the end of the day, but you're free to run things as you see fit for a bit.
Frustrations with TST National
00:16:51 Mike Stewart: And I don't know if I'd use the word "as I see fit". Um, I will say, and this is my personal experience, and I don't mean speak for anyone in the Grotto or anyone in TST, beyond my own experience, but the whole experience of the FoG was very slapdash, was a very poorly executed, very poorly communicated, and that those that were often given authority to handle things, were not the correct people. So I had frustration with the FoG program, almost right from the get go.
00:17:33 Joseph Rose: Mmm. Where was that frustration coming from? Where there, were you attempting to do things as a group and TST wasn't really on board? Or how did it work?
00:17:42 Mike Stewart: Absolutely. And I think you just hit it on the head there. You know, I think a lot of people who want to join TST as more than just, you know, "I got my card and my certificate for 30 bucks", but actually wanted to become part of this organization, often looked at Hail Satan? and the things they did in that movie, as a blueprint for what they expected out of the chapter, what they expected out of this organization as a whole. And I think that it became very apparent and clear to me very early on, but that was not the way things were going to go. For example, when I first started, first talked to Chris, the rules were very open to interpretation on what a chapter can do, on what, you know, actions they can take in their community. And as my involvement in the program progressed, I saw that slowly being taken from us. And monthly or even weekly, sometimes, rules would change, and they would pull back from. Whereas we were doing park cleanups. You know, we weren't hurting anybody. We weren't, uhm... we were literally just going and cleaning up parks. All of a sudden, pop, no more park cleanups. We wanted to do charity work. We actually ended up going to another group here in Kansas City called KCAC, Kansas City Atheist Coalition, and working under their names do charity work, because if TST had found out that we were trying to sort cans for a food drive, they would take our chapter.
00.19.28 Jospeh Rose: Wow, really?
00.19.29 Mike Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. 100 percent.
Top-down Communication Limits
00:19:31 Joseph Rose: Were you able to have direct communication with people at TST? Or did these rules just sort of get sent down? Or, or how did that work?
00:19:43 Mike Stewart: It was kind of a slow process to tell you the truth. Um, I kind of liken to moving the field goal. Every time you're about to make a touchdown or accomplish something that you feel is significant for your group, they move that goal back. They change that rule just slightly. And it did, at first, it was coming down directly from International Council. And that was one of the first steps back then at least, you found an International Council member, you convince them to more or less sponsor you or be your point of contact, right? And if you've convinced them thoroughly enough that they think that they, you know, you can handle this, then they gave you your, your shot at it. Well, throughout this experience, all of a sudden, at one point, I remember it came down that we're no longer allowed to speak to our International Council contact. Everything had to go through Amber. And we were completely denied access to anyone but Amber.
00:20:46 Joseph Rose: And she would have been the person to give you a yes or a no on on proposed ideas or something
00:20:53 Mike Stewart: Correct. And that is if you could get a hold of her. And I will say right now and just for you and all your listeners, I am not a fan of Amber, I'm not a fan of her leadership ability or the way she ran that program. I think that a lot of the failures that were attributed to different groups were actually just symptoms of Amber's own failure. So when we were cut off, and I could no longer go around Amber to find the answers I need, or well any of us really, we were all just left in the dark.
00:21:31 Joseph Rose: Mmm. When something like that would happen, you know, you want to do a park cleanup or a collection drive or something like that, did you ever get a sense of why you weren't allowed to do it? Was there, was there a reasoning that was given?
Fundraising for TST National
00:21:45 Mike Stewart: Yes. My interpretation of it is that they thought that our time would be better focused on raising money for TST, than working for our community.
00:21:58 Joseph Rose: Right. Yeah, that that brings up the general sort of fundraising idea. I know that, you know, again, I'm part of an independent group. So I've never been too deep into the inner workings of the chapters. And I've had, you know, just a taste of the Friends of Group experience, but I've never been an organizer or anything like that. So most of the information and experiences that I've been made familiar with sort of come secondhand. It seems like once you're into the official "Friends Of Group" system, the focus is more put on raising funds directly for TST Headquarters?
00:22:39 Mike Stewart: Correct. Yeah. And I think they kind of sell you a lemon on that, too. Especially talking to Chris Turvey, who, reluctantly, I still admire. I think he's a highly intelligent person, and... But they sell you on this idea that, yeah, your... your chapter... in our case, they said "Look, Kansas is going to be able to define their version of Satanism. Kansas is going to be autonomous, Kansas is going to earn their spot and be able to fight the fights, they want to fight in Kansas." And that excited us, you know, we were, we were down for it and uhm
00:23:17 Joseph Rose: That sounds exciting!
00:23:24 Mike Stewart: Yeah, well, I'll be honest, it got me to raise an army. No joke. We had three cities organized Kansas City, Wichita and Lawrence. That was how much I was into this. I was like, let's figure out how to make our community better. And then once, like you said, once you get into this, and you really start communicating with these people and seeing what their goals are, then it comes down to "Well, what we'd really like you to do is prove to us that you know how to organize and raise money", okay, well, I can do that. "Well, now we would like you to really prove it, and create something that TST can use that's solely, you know, and give it to us, it's just solely TST's". And then it would come down "Hey, you know, we want you to go ahead and just stop everything and be thankful that you have a community and just wait for us to give you your next order". And to me, that was just so heartbreaking. Because I did, I believed in TST, I liked the ideas, at least in the beginning of these lawsuits, you know, and maybe actually taking action against something and having that- and then just to have them go "No, we gave you a community", which I think is a bad interpretation of what it was anyways, as your only... that's just what you get. "You get to be friends with these people. You should just be happy with that". It was disheartening.
00:24:53 Joseph Rose: And then once you're in that functioning "Friends Of Group" system, just for anyone who isn't clear, I guess the first "Friends of Group" is a chapter-in-training, essentially.
00:25:06 Mike Stewart: Right. I always described it as like a pledge to a fraternity, y'know. You had to go through a year to kind of, well, more or less prove your loyalty, prove the you can stick together without causing trouble or, you know, any of the other problems that may arise.
00:25:27 Joseph Rose: Right. So they use the chapters as a way to expand the organization and increase the potential for fundraising and all of that, and those are the ways that the chapters benefit The Satanic Temple. What are some of the ways that The Satanic Temple benefits the individual groups, the chapters or the Friends of groups?
00:25:50 Mike Stewart: You know, and that is a really good question. And I would say there are two interpretations of that answer. The Satanic Temple will tell you that once you become a chapter and you've made it through your "Friends of" program, that you're going to have access to TST resources and you know, a nationwide organization like that should have substantial resources to help out a community. They also say that if anything goes down or happens and you're discriminated against, TST lawyers are going to be right there by your side to help fight it. Now, my interpretation of that is that none of its true and that, as a local community, you don't receive anything from TST other than Band-Aids. Other than the- and I hate to put it this way, I put in my work for free, and I did that on my own accord until I felt like I was getting duped or gypped out of what was happening. And that, that's, that's honestly, I feel like they're getting people to come and do their work for them, and to expand this organization for free, so that those at the top of the "meritocracy", you know, get all the benefits, get all the money, and then they don't have to answer for it. There's no transparency, there's no clear lines on where this money's going, how it's being handled, what they're investing in... And that was that was a big red flag for me. One of many, but a big red flag.
Fundraisers and Financial Transparency
00:27:26 Joseph Rose: So if you if you were to do a fundraiser or anything like that, well, first of all, it would need to be approved by The Satanic Temple, right?
00:27:36 Mike Stewart: Correct. Yeah. Anything you have or want to do either as an FoG or a chapter, anything at all has to be submitted in written form and a proposal, and I'm sure it goes to Amber for FoGs, I'm not sure if chapters go straight to international council or not, but you have to have it written down in writing and submitted before you get approved for anything.
00:27:59 Joseph Rose: Right. And so you want to do a fundraiser, let's say, and you go through the process, and perhaps it does get approved, you get back word eventually that yes, you can you can go ahead with this fundraiser. Is it required that that fundraiser be to benefit The Satanic Temple headquarters?
00:28:19 Mike Stewart: Yes, actually, it is a requirement that all money that you raise gets sent directly to TST, you are not allowed to handle cash. You're not allowed- and to some degree that I do admit, that makes sense so there's no embezzlement or anything. But to another degree, once again, the only thing you can raise money for do is The Satanic Temple. So you can't raise money for your own community. It all has to go directly to TST.
00:28:47 Joseph Rose: Wow. Okay. And and once you do that, let's say you raise, you know, $5,000 in over the course of a fundraiser, once that's over, you don't really know what that's used for, or what it... where it's going.
00:29:01 Mike Stewart: Yeah, yeah, absolutely not. They don't release any kind of financials. They don't allow organizer or chapter heads to know, that's all handled by "Executive Ministry", which is, of course, Lucien and Malcolm.
The Pros and mostly Cons of being official TST chapter
00:29:16 Joseph Rose: You've you mentioned that one of the benefits that you get from being a chapter is access to these additional Satanic Temple resources. And that's actually a question that I asked of several members. At The Satanic Temple I asked, What are some of the pros and cons of being an official chapter versus an independent group? And I guess the primary answer that I was given for the pros of being an official chapter is that you have access to additional TST information or resources. And so of course, I've never experienced what those are... From your experience, what exactly are these resources that you have access to?
00:30:06 Mike Stewart: Honestly, I couldn't tell you. I never found one. As a matter of fact, I spent more time fighting for access to information, resources for FoG, than I ever did receiving anything. And that's, when it comes to being an official chapter versus an independent group, I will always tell people be an independent group, because then you're in control of your destiny, when you give this over to TST, they'll promise you the stars, but nothing's coming from it. They use these words like "extra TST resources", these vague kind of insinuations that "just as soon as you make chapter, everything's going to be amazing", and they sell the organizers even on just the respect that they'll get out of it. You know, like I mentioned before, it is a meritocracy. There is no checks and balances, there are no way to call out somebody ahead of you, in charge of you, that can be meaningfully noted. I personally, and once again, all of my own opinion, believe the whole thing is a money-making ploy.
00:31:29 Joseph Rose: I guess, you know, from an outsider, it would seem like, I, when I you know, I'm just a member of TST, like so many others, you know, I, I signed up with my email and I got a certificate, I chose to get one and, and so I get their newsletters when they send them out. And we know that The Satanic Temple is, they're very active in the legal system, pushing the causes that they feel are important for them to sort of, you know, put their efforts into, and so I guess an assumption would be that so much of the money that they attempt to raise is to be used for the legal battles, I would assume. In fact, you know, just as we sit here speaking, I just recently got one over the last couple of days, where they were, I think the way they worded it was emergency fundraising. They're attempting to raise $100,000 for their lawsuit against the state of Texas, for the religious rights campaign, that they are doing, religious reproductive rights, rather. So I assume the legal battles are their primary goal, I guess, when they're raising money, did you ever have any indication of that? Or is that just your best guess would be as good as anybody else's?
Lack of financial transparency
00:32:46 Mike Stewart: Yeah, that's definitely they try to shift that focus towards their legal battles. Like I said, they lure you in with the community aspect and the ability to make a difference in your own personal communities, and then they dynamically shift that to "Well, what we really need is money to fight these overall battles". And, you know, once again, that could almost be acceptable to me, if I had proof that that's where that money was going. If I had an idea that the people in charge of this, were acting in our best interest. But without transparency, without that clarity, how do we know? And as a Satanist, I'm not above asking those in authority over me to prove themselves.
00:33:37 Joseph Rose: Yeah, I don't suspect it would be out of the ordinary to at least, like to know, maybe, you know, especially if it is something you've put significant effort into, you know, raising money for something, I certainly would have a natural curiosity about how it went after, after I did the work.
00:33:56 Mike Stewart: Yeah, and that's, um, and like I said, I think that's their their biggest failure, or one of them at least, is that their lack of transparency really leads me to believe that everything that they're working for is just for the pet projects of Executive Ministry and that they will sell members Baphomet statues and chapter memberships, and chapter head stuff, in lieu of free work and donations instead of actually building concrete communities that will be self-sufficient in the long run and can make these changes that we want on personal levels.
00:34:38 Joseph Rose: Yeah, chapter heads and all of that, these are all volunteer positions, right?
00:34:42 Mike Stewart: Correct. Correct. Now as for, and I will say that up to chapter heads. As for International Council or Executive Ministry, I've never seen anything one way or another to say if those folks make money. If Lucien's getting paid for what he does, or if Amber's getting paid for what she does, I have no clue because I was flat-out told, and I believe this statement is more than false just on its merit, is that no non-profit organization gives out that information.
Rules for Groups
00:35:17 Joseph Rose: Sure. And as far as you're aware, the system in which your chapter worked, you know, the rules and limitations and all of that, is that pretty standard, as far as you know? You know, if you're a chapter in New Jersey or Wisconsin or Florida, the rules are the same for everybody pretty much?
00:35:38 Mike Stewart: No, I don't I don't think that they are. And I- that wasn't my experience, either. When we first started, to become a chapter, I was handed a piece of paper with about half a page of "do this, and you'll make chapter". You know, there was, "you've got to have two leaders for a year", you've got to do this and that. There's about half a page worth of text. By the end, when we split away from TST again, and went back to calling ourselves the Grotto, that list had grown to six pages.
00:36:15 Joseph Rose: And these are the rules and regulations for a "Friends Of Group" to become a chapter?
00:36:23 Mike Stewart: Correct. The Do's and Don'ts, and most of it's Don'ts. Now I will throw that out there, that list went from a handful of Do's and a handful of Don'ts to mostly "don't do this, "don't do that, don't pick up trash, don't talk about TST, don't..." There were so many. And I'm sure part of that is that there were FoG's that messed up and did things that were wrong, but more likely than not a lot of those were once again TST moving that goalpost and slowly shifting people's expectations from one thing to another without tipping them off too bad.
00:37:06 Joseph Rose: Yeah, yeah, I can surely empathize with the position that an organization like The Satanic Temple is in. They've got an uphill battle just by being a thing called "The Satanic Temple", first of all, and then you've got thousands of all of the different types of characters that get attracted to Satanism. And, and I can imagine how that must be hard to wrangle. I've had my own experiences, and I've only had to wrangle a few hundred people at most, you know, so, I get that.
00:37:39 Mike Stewart: Yeah, and thats, and it is, it's a task. I mean, Satanists are all independent thinkers. We all, for lack of better words, have our own "asshole tendencies", every single one of us. And that's probably the thing I've learned most organizing a Satanic community now, is that it is, it's wrangling cats. And it's hard. It's difficult. Everybody's on a different page, you have to find those unifying aspects. I think I was disheartened because those unifying aspects, such as the community work, were then taken away from us as a tool to help organize these people.
Breaking away from TST
00:38:17 Joseph Rose: So eventually, you weren't feeling so great about the way it was going. So did your group reach "official chapter" status? Or was it only a "Friends of Group"?
00:38:28 Mike Stewart: We were only "Friends of Group". I want to say we got about halfway-ish through our process, before we broke away. And there were a number of factors, I think, that led to that. As kind of the face of the group, I had been dealing with the inconsistencies I found in TST. And some of the things that I had promised our group because it was promised me through, you know, Chris Turvey, or Amber, that I just didn't think were going to come true anymore, and I didn't think were in the cards, and building up to our, to our departure from TST, I saw a number of those things just growing. Along with some of the other information we found out about TST that had been previously hidden from us. I wanna say, what, it was this last May, probably that we broke away?
00:39:27 Joseph Rose: How many members was your group around this time, the Friends of Group?
00:39:31 Mike Stewart: The Friends of Group on Facebook was probably sitting around 450, 500 people, but that was also a lot of out-of-state people. I would say we had a solid two-to-three hundred people between Kansas and Missouri that followed our group rather closely.
00:39:52 Joseph Rose: Okay. Once you kind of make the decision, we don't want to do this anymore, what happens then?
00:39:58 Mike Stewart: Well, we knew because like I said, I had spoke to many other ex-chapter heads. At my last count, there was over a dozen split-away groups, including ours. And I've made contact with at least over half, over half of them, I'd say for sure. So I kind of had an idea of, "If we were going to leave, how is The Satanic Temple going to react?" And we reacted accordingly. And more often than not, The Satanic Temple automatically reacts by attacking those people who have spoken against them in any kind of way, trying to discredit them, and then immediately seizing any work that they've done, and blackballing. Take, take whatever you can, and then shut the person down as quick as possible. So in light of that information, we did, we had a state council. We had two members from each of the three cities that, that we had organized, acting as council members to kind of help, you know, keep everything organized. I brought the whole council together, we explained what we found and what we needed, and our plan was very simple. We set a date, "We said, hey, this, we're going to do it on this morning." And we had a lot of spies in our group from TST. Or other chapter heads. You're required to have a "chapter liaison", which is somebody who has been through the FoG chapter and made chapter head. Now, the program was so new at the time, our chapter liaison was the first people ever to complete the FoG program beginning-to-end. And they already knew, 'cause I had spoken to this chapter head and voiced my concerns, that I was having doubts about this whole thing, and that I didn't feel like we were being led down an honest route. So like I said, we pull our coucil together, we come up with this plan, and then early one morning, we blocked all the spies that were in our group, we took down all the information that we had built, all the networking that we had done, transferred it over to our Satanic Grotto page, and then just simply left a note up there saying "Hey, we have decided, as you know, leadership elective that we can no longer support TST and what it stands for, but we still want to community, and we don't want to lose what we've built. So please join us back over on this other page, you know."
Future plans for the Satanic Grotto
00:42:36 Joseph Rose: And so at that point, you just turned your attention back to the Satanic Grotto as your main sort of home base for everything.
00:42:47 Mike Stewart: Right. And unfortunately, you know, right about this point, Coronavirus was just everywhere, it was just shutting everything down, so... and we've all been kind of, I think every group, including TST groups, independent groups, have probably all been feeling this kind of suffrage that you're- you know, you can't get together at all, you can't really do a whole lot right now. So that's been a bit of a struggle. And our focus mainly been on keeping that cohesion, keeping the people who are active and wanting to be a part of this engaged- And really, I kind of liken it to a holding action, you know, during war or something, that we're just holding our ground, and we're waiting for that break so that we can we can go out and do our next big [audio cut off]
00:43:40 Joseph Rose: Do you have any specific type of goals in mind for your group, the Satanic Grotto moving forward?
00:43:47 Mike Stewart: Um, we have been working on a book. It was much more a large group project in the beginning, and has kind of died down to maybe just a handful of us, but we do have a book that we had a working title of "How Satan Conquered Kansas". And that was a big project we've been in on. We are huge on the community part. We've done food sorting for harvesters, we've done park cleanups. We just- one of our members who is so sweet, so awesome, just headed up and finished a homeless drive for us where we gathered basically wintergear items, you know, for anybody who might be caught out in this miserable weather that we're having right now.
Commonalities in local Satanic groups
00:44:36 Joseph Rose: That's great. It really, it sounds like your group has a lot of things in common with the group I'm a part of, Satanic Delco. I feel like you guys are probably fairly similar to what we do.
00:44:48 Mike Stewart: And I think that's probably true of most groups. Like I said, I've been in a lot of groups. I've done a lot of research. I didn't come into wanting to be an organizer because I wanted to be "King of the Satanists". I had no intent of that in my mind at all and I think actually, if you ask around my group, I'm pretty well reluctant about any leadership that I have to have. Yeah. And that's, that's... all I've ever wanted was to see a community grow, and people become cohesive. And I think that's the general theme among a lot of groups. I went and made, hand made a bunch of leather journals for a bunch of our group members, this... right before Halloween. And then I got onto some pin company and got a bunch of pins that said "Satanic Grotto", had our little symbol on it, you know, and I just handed that stuff out. And I think that that has helped keep us on that community level. We're focusing on each other and direct action we can take to show our, you know, our love for each other.
00:46:05 Joseph Rose: That sounds pretty rad. Really.
00:46:07 Mike Stewart: And I love your guys's um, what a tuition or gift that you're giving out to the high school kid?
00:46:14 Joseph Rose: Yeah, yeah, our Outsider Achievement Award?
00:46:17 Mike Stewart: Yeah, I thought that was amazing. When I heard that I was like, "Oh, now there's something we could raise money for."
00:46:22 Joseph Rose: Yeah, there you go.
00:46:24 Mike Stewart: That's a great idea. I was super impressed when I heard that from your pod.
Plugs and Good-byes
00:46:29 Joseph Rose: Well, Mike, I really appreciate the time and getting your input in all of this. If you'd like tell everyone where they can find your group.
00:46:38 Mike Stewart: Yeah, you can find us on Facebook at the Satanic Grotto, or we have a subreddit called KC Satanic Grotto, because that was back before we expanded outside of Kansas City. And on our Facebook page, you'll find links to our Discord server and all kinds of other... I don't head up the social media as much as some of the other members do so.. Our Facebook page generally has everything.
00:47:03 Joseph Rose: All right, great. Yeah, I'll make it a point to grab some of the links and put them in the show notes for the podcast.
00:47:08 Mike Stewart: Hey, I appreciate it. I appreciate you having me on.
00:47:11 Joseph Rose: Take it easy
00:47:12 Mike Stewart: Hail Satan.
Explaining cut portion of interview
00:47:13 Joseph Rose: Alright guys, before I end this episode, I want to offer a little bit of transparency for you. There was a section of this interview with Mike that was cut from this episode. The topic was a podcast discussion back in 2003, between Lucien Greaves back when he was primarily known as "Doug Mesner", and a guy named Shane Bugbee. Some people are familiar with it, some surely are not. Of those who are aware of it, many find it to be rather unsettling, for reasons that are obvious once you hear it. When its existence was brought to light, many members of The Satanic Temple were turned off enough that they left the organization altogether. On the other hand, there are many who forgive the unfortunate language that was used. I've taken the relevant audio from that original podcast from 2003, along with that section of my conversation here with Mike, and I'll be posting a bonus episode with all of that stuff on our Patreon channel. I wanted to put it all together with some relevant discussion to give context to the entire thing, because I know a lot of people listening to it here would hear us talking about it with no frame of reference or context for exactly what we were talking about. So I wanted to create an opportunity for you to hear it with your own ears, and then hear what Mike and I had to say about it. So that will be a bonus episode over on our Patreon channel. If you're not already a member, you can visit our website at Hail Satan podcast.com and join the appropriate tier to get the bonus content and you will hear it over there. So that's about all I've got for you this week. Thank you very much for joining me once again. Stay safe please. Hail Satan.
Patreon Exclusive Transcript
00:01 Joseph Rose: Hey guys. So, I’m gonna do this little bonus episode for you here. As I said, in the episode, I cut out a section of the chat I had with Mike, and I just wanted to give this recording and this whole portion of our conversation some context. I know that a lot of people haven’t heard it, and I know that The Satanic Temple would strongly prefer that no one hear it. But it is what it is. It was a moment in time, it was 2003, and this guy Shane Bugbee and some others did this whole 24-hour podcast thing, I think it was… I’ve certainly not listened to all of it, and I have no intention of ever listening to any more of it than what I’m gonna present here to you today. So I guess we’re just gonna get into it. I think what I’m gonna do is start to play the audio, and I’m gonna pause it as we go, and make some comments as I see fit. The whole thing, the clip that I have here is just over two minutes. It’s two minutes and eighteen seconds. The first voice that you’re going to hear at the very beginning is Lucien Greaves, at the time Doug Mesner, just so you can sort of identify his voice in the mix.
Joseph Rose interpreting 2003 "Might Is Right" stream clip
- 01:30 Doug Mesner: Like I think it’s OK to hate Jews if you hate them because they’re Jewish and they wear a stupid fuckin frisbee on their head and walk around think they’re god’s chosen people, but it’s not OK to hate somebody just because their parents were stupid fuckin Jews and wore stupid fuckin frisbees on their head and thought the Jews were god’s chosen people, I mean, that’s not what they, they choose to go along with and they’re normal people too.
01:54 Joseph Rose: OK. So you understand right away why this is potentially a problem for many people. Now, we’re gonna try to look past the obvious, sophomoric, maybe regrettable style of conversation that’s happening right here. What he’s saying is, it’s ok to hate people - Jews, specifically in this case - who go along with a stupid religion, because religion is stupid, and we don’t like that. It’s not OK to hate Jews because their parents went along with it. I’m trying to see through the bullshit, and get to what he actually believed, and intended to convey here. Despite the fact that he did it very poorly. I believe what he’s saying is, we don’t hate people for what they are, the way they’re born, we don’t hate them because of what their parents were, is what he said. Which is to say you don’t hate someone because they’re a Jew. He’s saying it’s OK to hate people that go along with a stupid thing, in this case religion, specifically Judaism. Let’s carry on.
- 03:17 Shane Bubgee: If they’re Jews?
- 03:19 Doug Mesner: Oh if they were born of Jewish blood, but if they don’t follow that whole Zionism line of bullshit, they’re OK…
- 03:23 Shane Bugbee: Are you telling me anyone with Jewish blood is OK with you?
- 03:26 Doug Mesner: Nah, I’m telling- I’m telling you that not everyone of Jewish blood is OK with me, it depends on if they follow the.. The Jewish uh…
- 03:36 Shane Bugbee: Do you like uh, Satanic Jews?
- 03:38 Doug Mesner: Satanic Jews are fine…
03:41 Joseph Rose: Yeah. He’s elaborating just a little bit there. I believe the idea that he’s trying to convey is “We don’t hate people for what they are, how they’re born. We hate when people are stupid and follow stupid religions.”
03:58 Shane Bugbee: I don’t know about that. I don’t like any Jews.
03:59 Doug Mesner: (talking over Shane) Then they’re not Zionist Jews, it’s Zionism I’m against.
04:01 Shane Bugbee: Hey, uh, Jew blood, one drop of Jew blood means you ain’t breaking bread with me, mother fucker. Why, you Jew? You Jew? Hey he’s getting upset, I think his ears are turning red. I think, I think, I think his last name might be fake for a Jew.
- 04:13 Doug Mesner: Fuck, look at me. I’m an Aryan king.
- 04:16 Amy Bugbee: Maybe so many of the Jews wouldn’t have been killed if they wouldn’t have all turned on each other like they did.
04:25 Joseph Rose: Alright before she starts her bullshit, let me just back it up for a second. When he says “Look at me, I’m an Aryan king.” I don’t know how many people out there would hear this recording of Lucien and say “Yes, he believes he’s an Aryan king, and he’s serious about it.” When I hear that, I hear a guy fucking around. I hear a guy joking. Is it in poor taste? That’s subjective. I don’t think he is seriously trying to convey that he believes he is an Aryan king. I think he’s joking. Let’s carry on.
- 05:17 Amy Bugbee: During World War 2
- 05:19 Gerod Staaf: A lot of that’s been covered up, ya know. There’s a lot of fighting amongst themselves. And also we should never forget that it was not six million people, it was actually under three million.
- 05:30 Shane Bugbee: More Polish folk died in the concentration camps and in the showers and in the ovens than the Jews, but no one talks about that.
- 05:41 Amy Bugbee: Exactly yeah
- 05:43 Shane Bugbee: That’s why I hate the Jews.
- 05:45 Amy Bugbee: The Poles, the Russians, the Gypsies, many more of them were slaughtered than the Jews, but the Jews are the ones who go around and demand money from the Swedish banks and do all this stuff, they want reparations just like the Blacks, ya know it’s bullshit. And speaking of eugenics, up until the mid-'70s in California they did sterilize retarded people and stuff, something like 18,000 people were steralized up until, I don’t know, ‘77 or something, and now they’re talking about giving those people reparations and their family members.
06:19 Joseph Rose: Alright. That is the end of the audio clip. Where to even start with this. First of all, that women, on the show there, I don’t know who she is. I think the word that the kids use nowadays is “cunt”. Is that right? Cunt? She doesn’t sound that, that fun. And uh, the main guy there, Shane Bugbee, I don’t exactly know what his whole deal is, he’s been around for a while, and ya know, serving up various ideas. I can say for sure that that’s a room that I wouldn’t choose to be hanging out in. That’s not a group that I would choose to hang out with, and converse with, and record a fun little podcast with. I can say that for sure. Why was that a situation that Lucien wanted to be a part of back then, Doug at the time? Why did he want to be there? I don’t know, I’m not sure about that, and I’m certain wer’e never going to get that answer from him. And you know if you’ve listened to my show, or spoken to me about Satanic Temple related issues, you know that while I’m a huge fan of the seven tenets, and I’m aligned with many of the issues that The Satanic Temple pursues through the court system and otherwise, I’m very supportive of all of that, but I am critical of The Satanic Temple in some ways. When they do a thing, I’ve never been afraid to speak my mind about how I feel about those things, and I’ll continue to do that. So I’m not going to defend Lucien Greaves, when I don’t think he deserves a defense. But in this case, specifically the words that I’m hearing him say, I don’t believe that he is delivering an anti-Semitic view. Does he have the right to offend? Yes, yes he does. I think he has every right to say those words that he said. I think they all do. I think I also have a right to think they’re assholes, and to not want to be involved or hang out with them. But when it comes right down to Doug, I think what he was childishly trying to articulate, is an idea that he’s against people being involved with stupid religions, and in his words, “wearing a stupid fucking frisbee on their head”. So uh, yeah. Not the classiest way to go about it, but I think I get his message. Now, I’m not gonna get into all these other things, but we know, and again it involved this guy Shane Bugbee. He, he republished this “Might Is Right” book, ya know from back in the day, and we’ve talked about that a bit on the podcast, Anton LaVey plagiarized bits of it for the Satanic Bible and so-on and so-on. When this character Shane Bugbee republished a version of this book, Lucien Greaves did the illustrations for this book. Now, I can only guess he was paid to do the illustrations, I don’t know that for a fact, but he did a Work-For-Hire, we’ll call it. Was it for free for a friend? I dont know. Was he paid? I don’t know. But this book “Might Is Right” is a shitty book. Ya know, it reinforces a bunch of racist, elitest bullshit, and it’s probably not a book you’d like to have on your shelf. And so when you start to combine some of these things, and there are others, there are other things that Lucien’s been involved with, and actually, this 24-hour podcast that all of this came from, was I think about that book, about the republishing of it or something like that. Again, I haven’t listened to the whole thing, I’m not entirely familiar with the context of all of it, but I believe it was surrounding the idea of this “Might Is Right” book. But you get the idea, you can surely understand why people were not pleased with this, you can understand why The Satanic Temple doesn’t want you to hear it, but it’s worth looking past the bullshit and just poking at it a little, and hearing it for yourself, and seeing what you think about it. So now, I’m going to present you with the rest of the interview that I did with Mike, uh it’s, ya know it’s several minutes long, it was just a section that was cut out of the main episode and I’ll give it to you right here.
Cut portion of Mike Stewart interview
11:23 Joseph Rose: And was there anything in particular that sort of stood out as the last straw, or something that really caused the decision to separate from TST?
11:34 Mike Stewart: Yeah I would say when the ex-Washington chapters leaked Lucien’s podcast, and then subsequently got a SLAPP suit stuck against them, that that was my final, final straw.
11:54 Joseph Rose: Can you explain that a little more? I’m sure there’s probably people that aren’t familiar with what that is
12:01 Mike Stewart: Uhm yeah, so this, like I said this was probably back during April, maybe late April or so, that I got word from one of our members that said “Hey, have you seen what’s going on with the Washington chapter?” and I was somewhat familiar with the Washington chapter, I’ve talked to Lilith Starr before, I’ve talked to a lot of chapter heads, but uhm, I was somewhat familiar with the group and I was like “No, I hadn’t heard anything”. So I hopped on Facebook and logged onto their page, and there was an ex-leadership member there who had been removed from his position as leader, but still left on the Facebook page. And I guess they left him in charge of that Facebook page for, I don’t know, a significant amount of time. Enough to where he decided to take action. It wasn’t like he was let go and then that day he decided to take action. They uh, he was on there for quite a while and he gathered up information. Lucien Greaves made a podcast back in about, oh, 20002 or so that was with some white supremacists where said some pretty cringey, anti-Semitic things. And these were back in the Shane Bugbee days. And uh, so they released that podcast, and that just shook me to my core. My girlfriend’s actually Jewish, and I let her listen to it, and uhm, I’ll tell you this, she is to the point where she’s still scared about fascism, nazis, white surpremacy, to where she won’t even get one of those DNA tests because she doesn’t want to be on the record as having Jewish ancestry in any kind of database. She still fears that. So it was kind of a big deal to me to learn about this, and I consider myself an anti-fascist. So I went to Amber, and I said “Hey, this is… this is really messed up, uhm, what’s going on with this?” and Amber goes “Oh, this is old news, ya know, this happened ya know 20 years ago now, and it’s been dealt with.” And I’m like “OK, that’s great, that’s all I wanted to hear. How has it been dealt with?” I’m assuming Lucien put out a retraction, or there’s a video I can watch where he says “Hey I was a piece of shit, but I was young, and ya know, I didn’t mean it. I don’t mean it, and I reject white supremacy.” Which seems to be, ya know, a big deal now. If you can’t say that, well I mean, you’re on stage with Trump right?
14:44 Joseph Rose: Yeah I think all of us want to assume that people within this organization are, certainly would not have those kind of feelings.
14:49 Mike Stewart: Absolutely. For a Satanist, I mean I’m not saying- I was like “Please, please let this work out, because I will just be devastated. I’ve put hundreds of hours of work into this group, and that’s- I would come home after work, ya know, poor me a drink and just get on the computer and start to network. Trying to start, ya know, I put a lot of time into this. I did not want to see it fail over something as stupid as this.
15:16 Joseph Rose: Yup.
15:17 Mike Stewart: And speaking with Amber, she kept going “Yeah, yeah, he wrote a retraction, let me just find it and I’ll send it to you.” Two days go by, “Hey Amber, what’s up? Where is this informa-” “Oh, well I know he wrote it because I helped him write it too, I just can’t find it” “OK well I really need this piece of paper, Amber.” “OK OK well I’m gonna find it.” Well, it got about five days into it and I still hadn’t heard anything from here, and I started making contact with the Washing chapter, talking to them, who led me to speak to (Rose Vespa) in Texas, who led me to speak to (Jinx Strange?) and some of these other groups that are out there, uhm, the Capital Area Satanists, ya know just a lot of these splinter groups that have come out, and listening to the information they had. And it was real funny, the day before we left, one of the members of these groups said “Hey listen, what they're probably gonna give you is this little quote "from" -- quote-unquote "from" -- Lucien that says ‘Hey, ya know I was young and I was stupid, and I reject all this’” They said, "Just know that he didn’t wrote this, and as a matter of fact, he kicked out the guy who did write it", who was Lance? He was the chapter head of San Marcos chapter, who basically plagiarized Lucien’s name and wrote this whole... And it was an excellent apology, I would have taken it in a second and been like “Let’s move the fuck on”. But, turns out he didn’t write it, and Amber likes to hand it around now, post-all of this saying it was from Lucien. And that kind of broke me too, I was like, "There’s one thing I’ve learned about fascists and people who have racist mindsets, is that, man, it just chaps their ass to deny it, or to renounce it." And you can always tell somebody’s truth by whether or not they’ll just come out and say it, say “Hey, no, fuck white power.”
17:33 Joseph Rose: Hmm. Yeah. Ya know, it’s funny, I’m aware of the recording that you’re referring to, and I’ve heard it, but it has been quite a while, I don’t- ya know it’s not fresh in my mind, I couldn’t tell you any of the exact wording of anything that was used, so I don’t remember exactly the way anything was said, and I think ya know, with good faith, the idea that I tried to take, again because I come from a place where, I’m still, I’m a supporter of The Satanic Temple ya know, I’m a big fan, primarily, primarily what I’m a fan of are the seven tenets, that’s what I like. That’s what really has continued to attract me to The Satanic Temple. So I want to believe, I definitely believe in giving everyone a fair chance, or the benefit of the doubt, I still through all that I’ve seen in my forty plus years, I like to think that people mean well, and I can definitely understand how words can be misconstrued, or messages can get mixed, so I won’t sit here and judge too harshly, I should go maybe give that another listen, or see what it is Lucien has said if he’s said anything directly about it since then.
18:52 Mike Stewart: And that’s, like I said that’s, I wanted, I wanted so fiercely to just move past it and go “It was a mistake”, and uhm, to this day I still bring this up when anyone brings up, chats’ll go “Well Anton LaVey was an antisemite”, well you might wanna check your sources too. The day Lucien comes out and just directly says it, “I’m not a white supremacist, I don’t support white supremacy”, then I’ll stop that campaign.
19:29 Jospeh Rose: So was that the, that podcast that you’re referring to, that was the thing that sort of pushed you, on behalf of your group, to leave The Satanic Temple?
19:40 Mike Stewart: Absolutely, yeah that was the final straw. There were a lot of other things that already had me looking at that door, but the fact that this thing couldn’t be resolved very quickly and very efficiently by going “Yup, here’s the answer, he said he was sorry.” led me to believe that not everything- ya know, if they’re lying about something like this, or if, not even lying, if they’re attempting to conceal part of this, what else are they concealing from me?
Wrapping up Patreon exclusive
20:11 Joseph Rose: Alright guys, so that concludes the missing piece of my interview with Mike. Thank you for listening, and really, thank you all so much for being a part of the Patreon here for the show. I love and appreciate your support, thank you very much. Talk to you soon.
- Naked Diner, The Satanic Temple Colorado - Naked Diner Ep. 141, "Chapter Head Chris Turvey and Media Liaison Damion Luciano of The Satanic Temple- Colorado Chapter are in the Diner this week to talk about their chapter’s growth, activities like their Hellfire club philosophy group, the chapter’s new Heathens for Heroes collection drive for veterans, and more." April 1, 2019.