Ordination Standards

Prerequisites and Procedures for Recognition as Having Ordained Status in The Satanic Temple

Current Revision: October 2020

Preface

The following standards serve as guidelines uniformly accepted by all chapters, regional groups, and any other associations or individuals affiliated with The Satanic Temple, so that their pursuit of active ministry will be consistent across our membership while honoring our values, goals, and traditions.

In order to fulfill our mission in an orderly, consistent, and thoughtful manner, the Executive Ministry and Ordination Council have outlined the following prerequisites and procedures so that candidates will understand the process of applying for, attaining, and maintaining ordained status within our ministry.

The Executive Ministry and Ordination Council recognize that religion is a human endeavor, and as such is always subject to growth and change. As a result, these standards will be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect the evolving needs of our church and our membership.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    1. Background
    2. Definitions of Terms
      1. Church Structure
      2. Ministry and Ordination
  2. Path to Ordination
    1. Prerequisites
    2. Registration
    3. Coursework & Final Exam
    4. Background Check
    5. Letter of Approval
    6. Final Certification
  3. Maintaining Ordination
    1. Why do Credentials of Ministry expire?
    2. Renewal Process
      1. Elective Coursework & Exam
      2. Letter of Approval
      3. Renewal Certification
    3. Removal of Ordained Status
      1. Voluntary Expiration
      2. Withdrawal of Recognition
  4. Addendum: Summary Checklist

I. Introduction

A. Background

Ordination is the act by which our church delegates a wide range of ministerial functions and responsibilities to qualified persons who have demonstrated a dedication to our community and a deep and passionate understanding of the beliefs, values, and goals of The Satanic Temple.

The Executive Ministry and Ordination Council are the duly authorized bodies responsible for creating, coordinating, maintaining, and reviewing the curriculum and requirements for initiating and maintaining ordained status in The Satanic Temple. This process is evolutionary and will change over time, but in the ongoing evaluation of the Ordination Program the following principles will always apply:

  • Ordained status in The Satanic Temple will reflect a commitment to developing a personal Satanic philosophy.
  • Ordained status in The Satanic Temple will reflect a promise to model the Seven Tenets in thought and action.
  • Ordained status in The Satanic Temple will reflect a dedication to the well-being of our community.
  • Ordained status in The Satanic Temple will reflect a dedication to lifelong learning and self-development.

B. Definitions of Terms

1. Church Structure

  • "Executive Ministry" includes the founding members, corporate officers, and religious leaders of The Satanic Temple.
  • "Suryan Council" is the leadership committee entrusted to handle dispute mediation and resolution, code of conduct compliance, oversight and human resource support.
  • "International Council" is the leadership committee entrusted with the management of local and regional Chapter operations.
  • A "Chapter" is a local or regional group of members of The Satanic Temple, granted legal recognition by The Satanic Temple to congregate and take part in activities as representatives of The Satanic Temple.
  • A "Chapter Leader" is a member of a local or regional Chapter who has been approved by the International Council and is legally recognized by The Satanic Temple as either a Chapter Head or Media Liaison of their Chapter.
  • An "Inter-Chapter Committee" (or simply "Committee") is a group of members who have organized to work on a specific campaign or initiative of the church.
  • A "Committee Director" (or simply "Director") is the member in an Inter-Chapter Committee designated as the key organizer and recognized as the primary point of contact for the group.
  • The "Church Leadership" (or simply "Leadership") is sometimes used to refer collectively to Executive Ministry, International Council, Chapter Leaders, and Committee Directors.
  • The "Ordination Council" is the Committee entrusted to develop, review, and implement the process of ordaining members into The Satanic Temple Ministry.

2. Ministry and Ordination

  • An "Ordination Candidate" (or simply "Candidate") in the context of this document is a member of The Satanic Temple who has officially declared intent to pursue ordination through our church.
  • A "Non-Ordination Seeking Student" (or simply "Non-Ord Student") in the context of this document is a member of The Satanic Temple who has registered to participate in the coursework with the express intent to not become ordained, usually because they are unable to fulfill one or more of the requirements to complete the program.
  • A "Minister of Satan" (or simply "Minister"), in the context of this document, is a member of The Satanic Temple who has completed all of the requirements to be ordained and maintains their ordination in good standing.
  • The "Satanic Temple Ministry" is the collective noun referring to the Ministers of Satan ordained by The Satanic Temple.
  • The "Ordination Platform" is the website through which people can register as Candidates or Students, access materials relevant to ordination and duties of ordained Ministers of The Satanic Temple, and perform various activities associated with managing and updating their official information.
  • The "Ordination Program" is the entire process that a Candidate must go through in order to become an ordained Minister of Satan, including: completing the Curriculum, passing a Background Check, and receiving a Letter of Approval.
  • The "Curriculum" (also "Coursework"), in the context of this document, is the sequence of Lessons followed by a final exam that a Candidate must successfully complete as the first step in the Ordination Program. Non-Ordination Seeking Students may also register for this portion of the program.
  • A "Lesson" in the context of this document is educational material pertaining to a body of knowledge related to a specific topic, along with a method for evaluating the Candidate's mastery of the knowledge. A Lesson is usually made up of the following elements: a video lecture, reading material, and a quiz. Alternative learning pathways will be provided upon request to Candidates who are unable to consume the course material in the standard formats.
  • An "Elective Lesson" in the context of this document is a lesson not included in the ordination curriculum, but that can be taken to fulfill the continuing education requirements for renewing ordination and maintaining good standing, as described later in this document.
  • A "Letter of Approval" is a letter that a member of Leadership sends to the Ordination Council at the request of the Candidate that describes the leader's relationship to the candidate and assessment of the candidate's fitness for becoming an ordained Minister of Satan. More details about the Letter of Approval are covered later in this document.

Throughout this document we will sometimes talk about requirements in the second person ("you") in order to make the tone more conversational and easier to understand. In these cases, the assumed audience — "you" — is a member of The Satanic Temple who is interested in becoming a Candidate or Non-Ord Student, or who has already registered as either.

II. Path to Ordination

A. Prerequisites

To be ordained into The Satanic Temple Ministry, you must be a Satanist and a member of The Satanic Temple. We do not ordain people who do not self-identify as Satanists or who are not members of our church.

We currently restrict ordination to members who are Citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States. This restriction will be relaxed in the future. Different countries have different requirements that a church must meet in order for their ordained clergy to be granted full legal recognition. It is important to The Satanic Temple that all of our Ministers have the same level of legal recognition regardless of their citizenship. We will therefore extend our program to new countries systematically, only after we have ensured that we meet the requirements for our clergy to participate fully in their ministerial duties in that country.

We do not require any reading or tests prior to registration as a Candidate. The coursework in the program will cover all of the information needed to pass the final exam (see Section II-C). However, the coursework is both broad and detailed and requires serious study. Someone who has an established history of research, personal inquisitiveness, and in-depth study of the topics covered by the coursework will have an easier time completing the program.

We require Candidates to submit to a basic national criminal-background check as part of the program (see Section II-D). You do not need to complete a background check before you register as a Candidate. However, if you believe you have something on your record that might create an unfair bias against you, you should reach out to the Ordination Council before you register, so that you may explain your circumstances.

We require a "Letter of Approval" from a Chapter Leader or member of Executive Ministry, written in support of the Candidate (see Section II-E). The Ordination Council does not need to receive this letter before you register as a Candidate. However, it would be wise to identify who you would like to write your letter before you begin. They may have recommendations as to what steps you should take to ensure that your letter is as positive as possible.

If you are not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, you are not willing to submit to a background check, or you are unable to obtain a Letter of Approval from Leadership, you will have the option of registering for the program as a "Non-Ordination Seeking Student." Registering as a Non-Ord Student means that you will be permitted to take all of the coursework, up to and including taking the final exam, but you will not be permitted to go any further in the program and you will not be an ordained Minister at the end of the process.

After you have taken steps to ensure that you are prepared to embark upon your journey, it is time to register.

B. Registration

A member registers as a Candidate or Non-Ord Student by enrolling in the Ordination Program through the Ordination Platform, which can be accessed at the URL https://ordained.satanicministry.com using any standard web browser. The registration process constitutes a formal "declaration of intent" on the part of the registrant to carry out the coursework and fulfill the requirements of the program.

The registration page contains two blocks of statements. You will be required to respond to both.

The first block of statements is:

  • I am a Satanist.
  • I am a member of The Satanic Temple.
  • I have read and agree to adhere to The Satanic Temple’s Member Code of Conduct.
  • I have read and understand the Ordination Standards.
  • I understand that my registration fee is nonrefundable and that it will not be returned even if my candidacy for ordination is rejected or left incomplete.

You must type "I AGREE" in the space provided.

The second block of statements is:

  • I am a citizen of the United States.
  • I will provide my legal name, birth date, and current address to The Satanic Temple for their records. This information will be kept private and confidential.
  • I consent to a criminal-background check.
  • I understand that successful completion of the ordination program depends a review of my entire application, including the results of the background check, the content of my letter of approval, and any additional investigation that the Ordination Council may see fit to undertake, and that final certification as an Ordained Minister of Satan by The Satanic Temple is not guaranteed by the simple completion of any of these individual steps.

You may type "I AGREE" to indicate that you are registering as an Ordination Candidate, or you may type "NON-ORDINATION STUDENT" to indicate that you are only registering with the intent to take the coursework, and you recognize that completion of this coursework will not result in you becoming an Ordained Minister.

You will then enter your full legal name, a username, and password that you will use to log in and access the online program.

Ordination Candidates do not provide their birth date and current address at this time, but will be asked to provide it after completing the Coursework, when they are ready to initiate the criminal background check.

The Satanic Temple is legally required to maintain the name, birth date, and address of all ordained Ministers on file so that government employees, such as County Clerks or judges, can verify the authenticity of the Ministers applying to perform marriages within a particular city, county, or state. The Satanic Temple does not and will never publish a directory of ordained Ministers.

Finally, you will be required to pay a one-time fee of $149 to register for the full Ordination Program or $99 to register for the Non-Ord Program. This fee is designed to cover the overhead costs associated with maintaining the Ordination Platform and the time and labor associated with processing applications and maintaining the benefits we provide to our ordained Ministers.

The registration process usually takes 10-15 minutes to complete, including time to read the Code of Conduct and the Ordination Standards. Once registration and payment are complete, you will have access to your own home "landing page" when you log in, which will contain information about your status and progress in the program and links to the online Coursework that must be completed as the next step in the process.

You will have 90 days from your day of registration to complete the program, including the Background Check and Letter of Approval. Before you register, you should make sure you have at least 20 hours to dedicate to the ordination program over the span of 90 days from registration, to ensure the best chance of success. Leave enough time to allow for unexpected circumstances, including: needing to retake the final exam several times, needing to discuss the results of your background check with a member of the Ordination Council, and accommodating the schedule of the Chapter Leader who has agreed to write your Letter of Approval.

If special circumstances arise that may prevent you from completing the curriculum in the time allotted, you may contact the Ordination Council and request an extension. However, these will be granted only in extremely rare circumstances. You must request an extension before your time expires.

If your time has expired, you may re-register as a Candidate. However, you will be starting the program over from the beginning and must go through all of the steps again, including paying the registration fee.

C. Coursework & Final Exam

The online coursework and final exam (also called the "Curriculum") are designed to ensure that our ordained Ministers share a common baseline of understanding and knowledge. We do not require that our ordained Ministers agree with everything The Satanic Temple has done or every position The Satanic Temple has supported; we do, however, require that they have a deep understanding of the history and actions of The Satanic Temple, what The Satanic Temple represents and is trying to achieve, and where it fits into the broader framework of modern Satanism as a diverse, worldwide religion.

The Curriculum is divided into 10 Lessons and a Final Exam. The full list of Lesson topics can be found on the Online Ordination Program course page.

The final exam will consist of 50 questions covering material from all ten lessons. To successfully complete the coursework portion of the program, you must receive a score of 80% correct or better on the final exam. You will be able to retake the final exam up to a maximum of three times.

If you registered as a Non-Ordination Seeking Student, this is where your progress through the program ends. If you pass the final exam, you will be mailed a digital Graduation Certificate as a memento for your successful completion of the coursework.

D. Background Check

Our ordained Ministers must strive to embody the Seven Tenets in thought and in action. As a result, certain types of behavior are disqualifying. We will not ordain anyone who has a record of violent crime, child abuse, rape, or any other felony sexual misconduct, or animal cruelty.

We understand that everyone's path in life is unique and the criminal justice system has deep flaws. Therefore, if you have something on your criminal record that does not fall in one of the above categories, please reach out to the Ordination Council to explain your circumstances.

However, please note: reaching out to the Ordination Council to explain the context of your conviction does not guarantee that you will be allowed to complete the ordination program. Every circumstance is evaluated individually. The Satanic Temple retains the right to deny completion of the ordination program to any individual based on their sole discretion and judgment.

E. Letter of Approval

Our ordained Ministers must be active participants in our community. We understand that community participation comes in many forms, and people have a wide variety of interaction styles, skills, and comfort levels. The Letter of Approval is our way to allow the local leadership of The Satanic Temple to recognize and acknowledge a Candidate's community participation regardless of what form it takes.

In the final step of the Ordination Program, you are required to approach a member of leadership, usually your local Chapter Leader, and request a Letter of Approval.

No member of leadership is obligated to write a letter of approval for any Candidate. Members of leadership may decline to write you a letter of approval for any reason, and they are not obligated to tell you their reason. If a member of leadership declines to write your Letter of Approval, you may ask them what steps you could take to make them more likely to write your letter; however, they are under no obligation to provide you with such a pathway.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that you identify a member of leadership who is interested in writing your Letter of Approval before you register as a Candidate. If they do not feel confident that you have enough connection to the community to warrant a strong letter of approval, they may give you suggestions on things you can do or activities you can participate in to improve that connection.

Be advised that stalking or harassing members of leadership in order to get them to write you a letter, or sending out mass requests to multiple people at once, will be grounds not only to have your Candidacy for ordination permanently revoked, but could also be grounds for removal from The Satanic Temple.

F. Final Certification

After your Letter of Approval is received, it will be reviewed by the Ordination Council along with the rest of the materials from your Candidacy. The Ordination Council may reach out to other members of your chapter, or may reach out to the member of leadership who wrote your letter to request additional information. 

If your ordination is approved, you will receive an email notifying you that you have successfully completed the program and are now an ordained Minister of Satan and member of The Satanic Temple Ministry.

As an ordained Minister, when you log back into your account on the Ordination Platform you will have access to your Minister Dashboard. This will provide resources with information about performing ceremonies.

You will also gain access to the Minister Supplies Store, where you can purchase physical copies of certificates, ID cards, and other supplies and materials to help you with your ministerial duties. Even if you do not intend to perform any religious ceremonies right away, you may want to purchase your basic credentials — your Certificate of Ordination and Minister ID card — that will show your name and the date on which you were officially ordained into the Satanic Ministry.

Please remember: You are not an official graduate of the program until you receive your final certification email, and you may not begin referring to yourself as an Ordained Minister in The Satanic Temple until you have received this official notice.

III. Maintaining Ordination

A. Why do Credentials of Ministry Expire?

Your ordination remains active for one year, after which it must be renewed. We cannot "auto-renew" your ordination. You must log in to the Ordination Platform and register for renewal through your Minister Dashboard.

This requirement is for your own legal protection. Without a renewal process, courts could invalidate ceremonies you perform on the grounds that an insufficient relationship exists between the ordained member of the clergy and the ordaining body (cf. Cramer v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 1974).

The renewal process is also an opportunity for our ordained Ministers to reaffirm their commitment to continued education. Our online Ordination Platform will continually add new Elective Lessons on specialized topics that can be used to fulfill the renewal requirement.

B. Renewal Process

To initiate the renewal process, an Ordained Minister will log in to the Ordination Platform and find the link to "Purchase Renewal" on the Minister Dashboard. The cost to apply for renewal is $59. This link will give the Minister access to select and complete a one-hour Elective Lesson. The Candidate for Renewal will also need to request another Letter of Approval, following the same guidelines as those for the initial ordination.

If you allow your ordination to expire, you will no longer have access to the Minister Dashboard when you log in to the Ordination Platform, and therefore you will no longer be able to purchase a renewal. You may contact the Ordination Council and request permission to renew if you are within two months after expiration of your ordination. If your ordination has been expired for longer than two months, you will need to start over from the beginning and register as a new Candidate for Ordination.

1. Elective Coursework & Exam

Renewal requires completion of a single Elective Lesson. When registering for renewal, you will be presented with a set of Elective Lessons from which to choose. Each time you renew, you will pick only one.

Once you have finished watching the video for the Elective Lesson, you will take a 10 question quiz. You will be required to pass with a score of 80% or better in order to continue. You will be allowed to retake the quiz a maximum of three times.

2. Letter of Approval

To complete the renewal process, the Ordination Council will need to receive a new Letter of Approval on your behalf from a Chapter Leader or member of Executive Ministry.

The process for this step is identical to the process of requesting a Letter of Approval for your initial ordination. Requesting this letter ensures that the Minister has remained an active participant in our community, and provides an opportunity for a member of leadership to offer feedback to the Minister in case any suggestions or recommendations for improved performance are needed.

3. Renewal Certification

After your Letter of Approval is received, it will be reviewed by the Ordination Council, and if everything is in order then you will receive an email notifying you that you have successfully renewed your ordination with The Satanic Temple Ministry.

Once your renewal is certified, you will be able to reorder a certificate and ID card, if you desire, showing your new active dates. Certificates and ID cards will always show your original ordination date, as well. If you do not plan to perform any ceremonies that would require you to present identification (e.g. weddings), you may not need to purchase updated physical credentials.

C. Removal of Ordained Status

1. Voluntary Expiration

You may allow your ordination to expire at any time, simply by not renewing.

If you do not want to wait until your ordination expires, you may contact the Ordination Council and request immediate deactivation of your status as ordained Minister of Satan.

In either case, if you decide you would like to be an ordained Minister through The Satanic Temple again in the future, you will need to re-register and go through the program as a new Candidate.

2. Withdrawal of Recognition

The Satanic Temple reserves the right to revoke your ordained status at any time and for any reason without notice. As a practical matter, there are only a few specific circumstances where The Satanic Temple is likely to revoke ordained status from one of its members.

  • You are arrested for or convicted of a serious crime.
  • You breach the TST Member Code of Conduct, including but not limited to behaviors such as: violence, harassment, hate speech, dissemination of confidential information, or acting as a spokesperson for The Satanic Temple without prior explicit permission.
  • You use your status as an ordained Minister of Satan to deceive, defraud, intimidate or otherwise manipulate or gain power over another person, or to gain access to people, places or documents or other materials that you do not have the legal right to access.
  • You knowingly make false claims or take any other actions that disparage the goodwill, name, brand, or reputation of The Satanic Temple, or its current or past directors, employees, independent contractors, volunteers, donors, supporters, contributors, or current and former founders.

Revocation of ordained ministerial status is handled by the Ordination Council and Executive Ministry, can be executed unilaterally by either of those groups at their discretion, and takes effect immediately when their decision is made. The Ordination Council will attempt to contact you to notify you of the revocation of your ordination status; however, the termination of your status does not in any way depend on whether the attempt to contact you is successful.

Upon revocation, you immediately lose all rights and privileges associated with ordained status. Continuing to perform rites and services as an ordained Minister after your ordination is terminated will result in legal action being taken against you.

Addendum: Summary Checklist

This is a high-level list of steps that give an overview of The Satanic Temple Ordination Standards. This overview is provided for your convenience only: the definitive guide to the ordination standards is the main body of this document.

Becoming an ordained Minister:

  1. Sign up to register as a Candidate.
  2. Complete 10 units of Mandatory Lessons, passing the quiz for each Lesson with a minimum score of 80%.
  3. Complete the Ordination Exam with a minimum score of 80%.
  4. Submit your personal information for a basic national criminal-background check.
  5. Request a Letter of Approval from a local Chapter Leader or member of Executive Ministry.
  6. Receive notification of completion of the program.

Renewing ordained status:

  1. Select an Elective Lesson for your Continued Education requirement.
  2. Complete the Elective Lesson and pass the quiz with a minimum score of 80%.
  3. Request a Letter of Approval from a local Chapter Leader or member of Executive Ministry.
  4. Receive notification of completion of your renewal.