October 6, 2014
Nope, Satanic coloring books aren’t flooding Florida schools
by Liam O’Brien
A story about the Internet’s favorite whipping boys, Satan and Florida, floated around the various news blogs (Salon, HuffPo, Vox) a few weeks back. It described how the Satanic Temple was distributing a coloring book called “The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities” to local schools—this in response to a court ruling that allows for religious materials to be dispersed as such. There were links to the coloring book as a PDF, attention-grabbing headlines, and language that either heavily implied or simply stated that the books were “flooding” the schools.
But the truth is usually much less sexy and simple than the headline, and this is no exception. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the “coloring books” don’t exist in anything but PDF form, nobody’s distributing them, and even if they wanted to they couldn’t.
If that request were made, the district would first review the materials. [Board chairman Bill] Sublette said he didn’t know if they would be allowed or not. And when I first reported this story several weeks ago, the group said they didn’t have printed booklets on hand and had no local group to give them out. At a board retreat Thursday night, Sublette strongly urged the board to put in place a policy that would ban the distribution of all religious materials by outside groups on school campuses, even if it would lead to a lawsuit.
But now there is something flooding Orange County schools—backlash over the fake story. A Catholic blog is leading the charge, sending thousands of identical emails to the members of the school board. So to recap: satanic panic—not just for the 90s anymore, the Satanic Temple’s publicity stunt definitely worked, and anytime you see a news story involving this guy you should take it with a brick of salt.
Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.