Queerty Exclusive

INTERVIEW: Satanic Temple’s Lucien Greaves Isn’t Worried About Arrest & Feels “Pretty Good” About Showing Off His Genitalia

Last week, members of the Satanic Temple in New York traveled to Meridian, Missippi to perform a “Pink Mass” ceremony at the gravesite of Catherine Johnston, Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps’ mother, claiming their actions cast an irreversible spell making Ms. Johnston “gay forever.”

This week, police in Meridian issued an arrest warrent for Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves, charging him with “desecration of a grave.” Queerty had an opportunity to chat with Greaves, who was the officiant of the “Pink Mass” ceremony last week. He’s currently back in New York.

We spoke to him over the phone, and got his personal take on the situation, as well the Satanic Temple’s official stance on gay marriage, and whether they raised the funds needed to participate in the Adopt-A-Highway Program.

Thousands of people have now seen your genitalia draped atop the grave of Catherine Johnson.

Well, I might feel a bit differently about it if the feedback hadn’t been so positive. But as it stands, I can’t help but feel pretty good about the whole event in general. We’ve gotten letters of support from people of multiple religions, even established Christians.

It seems like there has been a lot of support, but there’s also been some backlash, particularly from the cemetery owner and from the police in Meridian, Mississippi. Were you expecting this?

Absolutely. I mean, think of what we did. Of course this is going to offend the sensibilities of some people. This was a targeted gesture, of course, towards Westboro Baptist, but it’s going to carry over to people who have similar opinions, or hold some kind of supernatural belief that the cemetery was wrongly spiritually desecrated.

So this wasn’t an attack on the town of Meridian?

We have no ill will towards the people of Meridian. In fact, we ran into locals there who were very nice.

Police have said you violated “the moral decency of a human being” and have issued an arrest warrant for you.

I really don’t expect that we’ll have to put much or any effort into these claims. We left the cemetery exactly as we entered it. So “desecration” here is, I think, being contorted beyond recognition.

You’re not too worried then?

I don’t think the Mississippi air force will be flying overhead in New York, or that New York will extradite me all the way to Mississippi for a minor misdemeanor offense.

How do you respond to Westboro spokesman Steve Drain saying, “I don’t care whether you’re dancing on a grave, in a hot air balloon, or standing on Mt. Kiliminjaro, homosexuality is a sin. And the punishment fixed for that sin is the death penalty.”

It really makes no sense to say that the wages of this sin is death when the subject we’re talking about is dead. It makes me think he didn’t really understand the situation or he didn’t have the mental capacity to grasp what this story was or what the interviewer was asking him. That’s an answer they apply to everything, and doesn’t really say anything to the idea of the “Pink Mass,” or what that means when somebody is imbued with a post-mortem sexual conversion.

What is the Satanic Temple’s stance on gay marriage?

We’re all for it. Absolutely. It’s to each their own to follow their own path to happiness so long as it doesn’t encroach on other people’s freedom or sovereignty. The idea that gay marriage can’t happen is to encroach upon the pursuit of happiness of gay couple’s who would be married.

Which is, I think, an interesting statement to make just because so many people associate a Satanic Temple with evil and danger, but really what you’re preaching is love and acceptance and tolerance.

Yeah, but I think there’s a value in doing it in the name of Satanism, too, because it forces people to reevaluate the arbitrary labels we sometimes put on things. I actually have a long background in studying witch hunts and the idea of Satanism and, in honesty, Satanism is just that: an idea.

When you go back to Old Testament times up to modern history, what we think we know about Satanism is always something manufactured by people more of the Westboro church camp than actual people practicing Satanism.

It’s no different from this idea of the “gay agenda” being like a cult that seeks to convert otherwise straight children into this doctrine of homosexuality. It’s all that same mindset. It’s all that same narrow view that it’s us against them. And I think it’s very important to throw this out into the culture, and force people to judge people for their actions and the actual substance of what they’re saying, rather than their superstitious fears.

On that note, what do you think is the biggest misconception people have about the Satanic Temple?

Obviously we play with misconceptions in such a way that will jar these people into, hopefully, reevaluating whether we’re really this sinister cult of homicidal maniacs, or if we’re having a laugh at their expense.

The most common misconceptions that are going to be applied to us are the misconceptions that are applied to Satanism in general, and that being that there is legitimacy to this idea that there are roving hordes of Satanists conspiring in the background with mobile crematoriums and inserting subliminal messages in music.

You mean you’re not out drinking beer, corrupting youth, and performing human sacrificial ceremonies?

It’s just not happening. The real enemies in this situation, if we need one, are the witch hunters who insist that we are. They’ve done more damage than anybody.

I’m curious, did you raise enough money to participate in the Adopt-A-Highway program?

Unfortunately, the amount of attention we’ve gotten for this hasn’t translated too impressively into funds for that campaign, while we have been getting a number of messages since the arrest threat from people wanting to contribute to the legal fund.

My final question for you is: What do you think Catherine Johnson is doing right now?

Coming clean on the supernatural perspective: I don’t believe in it, so I believe she’s long dead and this had no effect on her. And if she were alive, I never would have pulled her into this so it could torment her in any way unless she was working for and endorsing Fred Phelps. The message clearly was for Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.

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  • Andrew

    Queerty should be ashamed of itself for printing this interview with an avowed Satanist. How about more articles about accepting Christian denominations? Spread love, not hate.

  • 2eo

    Well played Lucien, great interview. We’re rooting for you, well all the people with a brain are, you can ignore the cretin above.

  • RomanHans

    @Andrew: Ridiculous. These people actually sound pretty great to me. Besides, if Queerty only posted articles about loving religions they couldn’t mention Christianity again.

  • MikeE

    @Andrew: That has GOT to be the most idiotic comment ever posted on Queerty.. and lord only knows there have been a LOT of idiotic comments posted here.

  • onyxsky

    @Andrew: they are against hate, which is exactly why they protested it. the phelps family is full of hate.

  • mcflyer54

    “And the punishment fixed for that sin is the death penalty”. According to the bible the punishment for ALL sin is death and, since we’re all sinners, we all die. Ultimately I guess we have to choose the sin for which we’ll die and so I choose homosexuality over the hatred and bigotry the Phelps clan and their followers have embraced. Good for Greaves and for Queerty for printing the interview.

  • OutnProud

    Kudos to you Lucien. You came off intelligent, eloquent, sound minded, and rational. More then the WBC people ever could

  • mikehipp

    Fuck you and the horse you rode in on Andrew (on comment No. 1). Gay people don’t owe you a god damned thing, we don’t owe your religion a god damned thing either. And btw, there is no god and there is no satan so get over yourself and lighten up. The whole thing was a play on what those idiots out in Utah do.

  • Randy

    I believe in neither Christianity nor Satanism. What this man did is far, far less disrespectful to the families of the dead than the actions of the Phelps clan.

  • Meryl

    @Andrew: Satanism isn’t about hate at all. Please do some research before making unfounded claims.

  • jmmartin

    @Andrew: How theocratic of you to thwart the freedom of speech just because you worship a different deity! The Devil is the god of those one personally dislikes. Anton LaVey, the father of modern Satanism uttered “the Word of the Aeon” in the Sixties: “Indulgence.” It would seem to me that Satanism is much more viable religion than Christianity for gays, lesbians, and trans people. Your religion preaches just so many “Shalt Not’s” and, in its original form (Judaism) mandates death by stoning for the sexual minorities. Although I personally think Satanism a rather naive form of dualistic superstition, I support its adherents’ attempts to self-realize themselves as the persons they were meant to be, not what the Christian Priesthood (all sects, not just Romans) insist that they be. The one leads to freedom and full equality of the sexual vehicle; the other to closeted adherence to tired old morality that was all right for the 4th or 5th century BCE, but irrelevant for today. I applaud this young man’s effort to counterbalance the negativity of the phoney “Reverend” Phred Phelps, America’s No. One Bigot.

  • Charlie in Charge

    Well done Lucien, I wish you great success and protection from the misguided law enforcement in this.

  • Cyn

    This is disgraceful. I do not believe you counter the asshattery of Westboro by stooping to such offensive levels. And that was the intent, to offend. Pagans have a hard enough time without these idiots out there being juvenile jerks to attention grab. And this was straight out of middle school.

  • craigers

    @Andrew: you’re an idiot… and this comes from a Christian so don’t even go there.

  • Shannon1981

    @Andrew: Printing an interview with a Satanist does not = hating on Christians. What about accepting all religions, including those with which you disagree? Besides, Satanists have been a whole lot kinder to LGBT people than Christians ever have. We don’t owe Christians anything. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Further, it is obvious that you know absolutely nothing about Satanism. Satanists are atheistic in belief. They don’t worship any devil, nor do they believe in god, satan, heaven, hell, or anything else. They are atheists with a flair for the dramatic and who like ritual. Look up Anton LaVey, Founder of the Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible.

  • mcflyer54

    @Andrew: Apparently you believe that the only articles and information Queerty should publish are those with which you agree. How about you starting your own blog and just publish all the pleasantries and happy talk you want. Your vision of the real world is astonishingly naive and all the “bad guys” won’t simply go away because people like you ignore them. I don’t hate Christians or Satanists – there are good and bad followers from both but pretending that this event didn’t happen and not reporting about it would be totally irresponsible.

  • GymJockTX

    @Andrew: Unfortunately, Andrew, your comment is not entirely justified, seeing as how many avowed “Christians” these days are ED’s–Evangelical Dumbf**ks–who spread hatred, ignorance and intolerance, especially towards people of my tribe, i.e., the LGBT community.

  • GymJockTX

    @craigers: LOL. Just sayin.

  • CleJoke

    For today is the day for Fred Phelp’s pink mass.

    I hope everyone loses their mind and goes off on this one.

Comments are closed.