Satanists say Sabrina the Teenage Witch is “promoting asinine satanic panic”

Baphomet, now on Netflix.
Baphomet, now on Netflix.
Image: Netflix
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A satanic temple is raising hell over Netflix’s reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, relaunched in late October as The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. A Salem, Massachusetts-based organization called simply The Satanic Temple is suing Netflix alongside the show’s producer, Warner Bros, for copyright and trademark infringement, and is seeking at least $150 million in damages.

The issue is a goat-headed deity that appears in four of Sabrina’s ten episodes. The god, Baphomet, is a 19th-century figure but was reimagined by the Temple in 2014 as a bronze sculpture it planned to donate to the Oklahoma Capitol to be featured alongside a monument of the Ten Commandments. The Temple’s efforts were unsuccessful, and the 9-foot sculpture was moved to Detroit.

“Baphomet with Children” (2015) allegedly cost about $100,000 to design and build.
“Baphomet with Children” (2015) allegedly cost about $100,000 to design and build.
Image: Reuters Staff

The statue that appears in Sabrina’s ”Academy of Unseen Arts” looks to be a replica of the winged deity, and in the show’s storyline is associated with a devil-worshipping religion.

The Satanist group says it does not worship or believe in a supernatural Satan, but instead seeks “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people” according to its website. Indeed, Satanists regard Satan as a symbol of the rejection of “tyrannical authority,” which is another one of the Temple’s main tenants.

The Temple’s co-founder, Lucien Greaves, noted his concern over the representation of Baphomet on Twitter:

The lawsuit echoes this concern, claiming that the use of the figure in the Sabrina storyline is “as the central focal point of the school associated with evil, cannibalism and possibly murder,” which the suit notes “is injurious to TST’s business.”

While the Temple is known for legally challenging governments that allow religious displays on public property, it doesn’t always reject Satanic representations in entertainment. In fact, the Temple endorsed the horror film The Witch, which tells the story of a Puritan family being harassed by the dark forces.

“The themes in the film mirrored the things we talk about in our work,” Jex Blackmore, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple told Variety in 2016. “It’s a criticism of a theocratic patriarchal society and a fair representation of the stresses that puts on a community.”