On April 16, the first of four ex-members of The Satanic Temple - Washington Chapter were physically served papers for a lawsuit claiming damages to the tune of nearly $150,000 for defamation, computer hacking, cyberpiracy, tortious interference with business expectancy, and unfair competition. We are seeking funds to cover our legal expenses while we fight this case in federal district court.
This lawsuit followed the members’ removal from the self-proclaimed grassroots activist organization in March 2020 after leadership expressed increasing concerns about a growing perceived “coalition” of rogue members who they’d like you to believe were rebelling by being insufficiently deferential to authority - which is a hell of a claim for a group supposedly formed around rejecting tyrannical authority.
Here are the basics: David, Nathan, Lenore, and I were all in volunteer positions that had been described to us as leadership (we were all head members of respective “guilds” within the org structure, and we were all working to maintain TST’s social media, website, membership, and other assets with full permission). When the four of us were CC’d on an email in a complaint against TST WA “Senior Leadership” by a fellow member, we were assumed to be a part of this “rival” group. Then, when TST’s leadership lost admin privileges to the meme page, they immediately revoked our membership, with no warning or explanation. In fact, they didn't even let us know they’d done it.
There are obviously individual histories and connections with the organization that are worth mentioning, but these are the highlights: my partner David and I joined in June of 2019 looking for a place that could be a productive focus for our leftist activism. Nathan helped found the chapter more than 5 years ago and grew it. Lenore and their wife were with TST for over two years, notably attending meetings regularly with their young child.
None of us had malicious intent towards TST or our chapter. We were all doing our best to create a space where marginalized people attracted to it could actually have support and where the organization could thrive while living up to its own ideals. The Satanic Temple claims to be a forward-thinking, progressive activist org, but I eventually learned that at the highest levels, we were publicly represented by someone with a history of gross antisemitism and dealings with numerous right wing activists and media. As a Jew, I still told myself this didn’t affect me or the good work we were doing in our local chapter.
Ultimately, it came out that local leadership also didn’t want us posting memes that oppose transphobia or public opposition to ableism and fascism. Leadership also refused to apologize to a former member for the way that they handled a sexual harassment complaint while continuing to promote TST with the person’s image years after they’d left and had TST agree to stop. There are loads of instances where TST failed their mission, and part of TST’s issue with us is that we re-posted those things publicly for everyone to see.
So now we find ourselves here. Four broke, some currently unemployed working-class scapegoats who are being sued for an incredulous amount of money TST knows it will never collect, and we and our families are being personally served court papers by strangers in the midst of a global pandemic over social media accounts Facebook already told them weren’t theirs. While TST could be devoting their time, energy, and legal resources to living up to any of their claimed goals and principles, they’re instead persecuting a handful of people who were just trying to do the right thing.
Any support that you can contribute to our legal fund would be greatly appreciated.