The Satanic Temple—whose function should be obvious from its name, but in case you need an explainer, it’s a religious organization that “encourage[s] benevolence and empathy, reject[s] tyrannical authority, advocate[s] practical common sense, oppose[s] injustice, and undertake[s] noble pursuits”—has a surprising number of ongoing projects: raising awareness to prevent future Satanic Panics, protecting children from abuses in public schools, claiming abortion access as a religious right, and more. Now, they’ve awarded the “Devil’s Advocate Scholarship” to four students of different grade levels.
The Devil’s Advocate Scholarship is awarded to students who, through creative writing or visual art, show how compulsory schooling has dampened their creativity and inhibited their potential. Each awardee, thematically, receives $666.
Common themes emerge in each of the four students’ work—punitive discipline, restrictive schedules, and rewards for rote memorization instead of creativity. In the High School Graduate and Higher Education category, Cortney from Pennsylvania’s digital art piece “You’ll Never Make Any Money Doing That” shows a colorful, creative soul being crammed and stitched into a bodysuit by an evil school avatar, and Jacqueline from California’s art piece shows a blank-eyed student with a grinning creature controlling her (due to, as Jacqueline said in an accompanying blurb, the lack of agency she felt at school). In the Elementary School category, Ollie from Texas’s composition laments “having to write whatever the teacher wants you to write . . . I like writing a lot but only when I can write what I want.” And in the Middle and High School category, Juliana from Massachusetts’s poem “The Person Behind the Numbers” can speak for itself:
A disgrace in the eyes of education
You reach for a book but your hand is slapped
The adventures of Odysseus have to wait
Because idiots don’t get to choose their topics . . .
Read the full poem and view the rest of the scholarship winners here.