Author: TEGNA Staff
Published: 12:15 AM EDT April 25, 2019
Updated: 12:18 AM EDT April 25, 2019
The Satanic Temple says it has officially been recognized as a church for the first time by the federal government.
The organization made the announcement in a post on Instagram Wednesday. It says the recognition as a church means it now has tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. TEGNA has contacted the IRS seeking confirmation.
It also means, according to the temple, that it can receive protection from religious discrimination.RELATED: Satanists denied leading opening prayer at city council meetingRELATED: Satanic Temple member loses fight on Missouri abortion lawRELATED: Satanic Temple statue among holiday displays at Illinois Capitol
“This acknowledgment will help make sure The Satanic Temple has the same access to public spaces as other religious organizations, affirm our standing in court when battling religious discrimination, and enable us to apply for faith-based government grants,” the post reads.
The organization had previously refused tax-exempt status, according to Rolling Stone. But, Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves began reversing course in 2017, Patheos reports. That's when President Donald Trump signed an executive order in May 2017 which The White House said was to promote religious liberty.
Greaves started expressing that the Satanic Temple needed to be on equal footing with other churches.
"As 'the religious' are increasingly gaining ground as a privileged class, we must ensure that this privilege is available to all, and that superstition doesn’t gain exclusive rights over non-theistic religions or non-belief," Greaves reportedly said shortly after the order was signed.
Greaves reiterated the change of position in June 2018 when the then-Republican controlled House of Representatives passed legislation preventing churches from losing tax-exempt after backing political candidates.
“Time to go tax exempt,” Greaves tweeted on June 20.