Satanic Planet to perform at Indiana Statehouse following religious freedom spat

The band is affiliated with The Satanic Temple, which advocates for the separation of church and state

By: - September 8, 2023 7:00 am

Satanic Planet, a band affiliated with The Satanic Temple, will perform at the Indiana Statehouse this month. Above, a sign publicizes the event on an Indianapolis light pole. (Courtesy Riley Phoebus)

A band with ties to The Satanic Temple (TST) will perform at Indiana’s Statehouse this month, averting a legal challenge.

Satanic Planet first asked about performing in May, within days of a conservative Christian activist’s prayer rally at the site. After months of back-and-forth — including a legal threat — administrators signed off on the band’s use agreement on Wednesday.

Now, the band — fronted by TST co-founder Lucien Greaves — will perform for an hour at noon on September 28, at the Statehouse’s north atrium, according to the Indiana Department of Administration. The event is free.

“We are beyond thrilled to exercise our fundamental First Amendment rights with such an impactful display of religious pluralism and liberty,” TST Indiana Chapter Congregation Head Riley Phoebus said in a statement to the Capital Chronicle.

The organization, recognized as a church by the federal court and tax systems, advocates for the separation of church and state.

Event modeled after Christian activist’s rally

Satanic Temple-affiliated band cites ‘religious liberty’ in seeking Indiana Statehouse performance

The show is part of TST’s “Let us burn” tour, and it comes after Sean Feucht’s multi-year “Let us worship” tour touched down in Indiana’s capitol building.

Feucht, a preacher-influencer who prayed over former President Donald Trump in the Oval Office in 2019, began his ongoing tour as a protest of pandemic-era restrictions on in-person religious services.

His May 7 stop in Indiana was meant to be outside, but when faced with inclement weather, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch helped get the event inside, according to a Crouch spokesperson.

In video footage of the event, Feucht prayed over Crouch, telling a crowd she’d be “filled with favor” for her efforts.

TST leaders were paying attention — and wanted inside the Statehouse, too.

“Feucht is openly a theocrat who courts the attention of politicians and seeks to proselytize through his performances,” Greaves said in a June news release announcing the band’s performance request. “He has his opinions, and we have ours, but one thing the government can not do is preference his viewpoint over ours by giving him exclusive access to perform a concert on the Capitol grounds.”

“Satan has never had creative ability,” Feucht posted in response. “He only tries to pervert what has already been created.”

Group pushes for permission

By May 11, TST Indiana’s Phoebus had made an initial voicemail inquiry about a Satanic Planet performance to the Indiana Department of Administration’s (IDOA) director of Statehouse events, according to emails obtained by the Indiana Capital Chronicle.

That’s Tracy Jones — who denied the request May 16. After an extended back-and-forth, TST had its legal counsel send a demand letter to the agency on July 5.

Phoebus said that’s when IDOA’s own counsel, John Snethen, asked TST to complete a questionnaire “to process our reservation request.” After that was in, Snethen blocked out time for the event.

That month, Satanic Planet announced its new performance date on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.

By August, TST had signed and submitted its Statehouse use policy agreement. Jones signed off as IDOA’s representative on Wednesday, according to Phoebus.

A campaign to finance the tour surpassed its $15,000 goal and closed. Phoebus thanked supporters in a statement to the Capital Chronicle, adding, “We look forward to seeing you in Indianapolis this month.”

On stage at the Statehouse

Satanic Planet’s lunchtime performance includes an hour before and after for equipment setup and removal, IDOA spokeswoman Molly Timperman wrote Wednesday.

IDOA made no restrictions, accommodations or other policy changes for the event.

“The event organizer must abide by the standard terms and conditions of the Statehouse use agreement and comply with all applicable laws and policies, the same as any event organizer that requests to use public space in the Statehouse,” Timperman wrote.

The event is free to attendees — and the space is free to the band.

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“With the exception of weekend leases of the Statehouse for weddings, IDOA does not charge the public to use public spaces and is not charging this event organizer to use a public space,” Timperman wrote.

TST and the band, meanwhile, are getting ready.

“This performance will be different from Satanic Planet’s typical setup to accommodate for the building’s unique sound and to equate Feucht’s performance in terms of instrumentation and noise level,” Phoebus told the Capital Chronicle.

Phoebus said TST has embarked on a social media campaign about the event and spread the word to members across the country.

“We hope to bring the Let Us Burn tour to Capitals all over the nation as a display of religious pluralism and our First Amendment rights,” Phoebus added.

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Leslie Bonilla Muñiz
Leslie Bonilla Muñiz

Leslie covers state government for the Indiana Capital Chronicle with emphases on elections, infrastructure and transportation. She previously covered city-county government for the Indianapolis Business Journal. She has also reported on local, national and international news for the Chicago Tribune, Voice of America and more. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

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