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Devil worshipers take on Twitter

Image: Lucien Greaves stands inside the international headquarters of the S
Lucien Greaves Copyright Elise Amendola AP file
Copyright Elise Amendola AP file
By Corky Siemaszko with NBC News U.S. News
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The pro-Devil group says Twitter punished it for urging followers to report a threat.


Twitter is accused of not giving the Devil his due.

Not Lucifer himself, but a social activist group called the Satanic Temple, which claims that the social media giant violated its own rules when it suspended the group's Twitter account and that of its co-founder Lucien Greaves. It has filed a formal complaint against Twitter with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

"Given the importance of social media platforms, and the outsized power that so few social media giants like Twitter hold over users' community and business presences, these platforms should reasonably be expected to responsibly and evenly uphold their terms of service in a non-biased fashion free of discrimination and inexplicable arbitrary pettiness," Greaves said in a statement. "To ignore Twitter's blatant discrimination against the Satanic Temple is to yield ourselves to regressive new world of acceptable online violations against civil liberties."

The Satanic Temple describes itself as a "nontheistic religious organization dedicated to satanic practice and the promotion of satanic rights" and is based in Salem, Massachusetts, the site of the famous witch trials.

It claims that Twitter lowered the boom after Greaves urged his followersto report a Massachusetts resident using the the handle @LaurieGatta1, who allegedly urged people to "burn down" the group's Salem headquarters.

The Satanic Temple said Greaves' tweet "took wing" when actor Corey Feldman retweeted it.

For that, the group claims, Twitter suspended its accounts.

Lucien Greaves next to a nine-foot statue of the goat-headed idol Baphomet at the headquarters of the Satanic Temple in Salem, Massachusetts.
Lucien Greaves next to a nine-foot statue of the goat-headed idol Baphomet at the headquarters of the Satanic Temple in Salem, Massachusetts.Elise Amendola

"While Twitter lifted the suspensions of both the TST and Lucien Greaves accounts after their actions were exposed in mass media, they still have not verified the accounts of either while failing to justify their refusal," the group said in a statement. "The complaint charges Twitter with discrimination in a public accommodation on the basis of religion and unlawful retaliation."

NBC News has reached out to Twitter for the company's side of the story. So far Twitter has not responded.

Meanwhile, the @LaurieGatta1 account has been suspended, a search of Twitter determined.

The Massachusetts commission confirmed that the Satanic Temple filed a complaint against Twitter on March 12.

"Once we complete our investigation we will be able to release the complaint and our findings," the agency's spokesman, H Harrison, told NBC News.

The Satanic Temple is less about Devil worship and more of an advocate for strict separation of church and state. It opposes tax exemptions for religious organizations.

In years past, the group has gone to bat for women seeking abortion in Missouri, led the charge against Florida Gov. Rick Scott's push for voluntary prayers in public schools, and inserted itself into the battle over the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma Capitol by insisting that the temple be allowed to place a statue of the goat-headed deity Baphomet near the Christian statue.

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