The leader of the Satanic Temple is—surprise, surprise—no fan of Vice President Mike Pence. In fact, Lucien Greaves believes that as a hardcore evangelical, the VP poses a much greater threat to the United States than our erratic president, Donald J. Trump.
“Bush was a true believer; Trump doesn’t really try. But I think the evangelicals are happy with Pence, and happy that he’s assigning the [federal judge] appointees,” explains Greaves. “Trump is too stupid to predict; the guy has no concept of his own limitations. The thing that makes me most comfortable with Trump is the fact that he has no vision. Mike Pence really scares me: Pence has a clear, theocratic vision for the United States.”
Indeed, Pence is a man who not only once described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” but also denies the theory of evolution, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law as governor of Indiana, and is rabidly anti-gay, having previously supported conversion therapy.
And Greaves, 43, has emerged as the most unlikely star of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. He, along with the Satanic Temple—which he co-founded with Malcolm Jarry in 2013—are the subjects of the new documentary Hail Satan?, a film by director Penny Lane that’s had a surprisingly warm reception in Park City, Utah, deep in the heart of Mormon Country.
At the risk of revealing a “spoiler,” one of the most pivotal scenes of Hail Satan? concerns Jex Blackmore, then a national spokesperson for the Satanic Temple and their Detroit Chapter leader, calling for the execution of President Trump during a performance art piece. Blackmore is one of Greaves’ closest friends; after her incendiary statement, however, he says he was left with no choice but to kick her out of the Satanic Temple.
“When we say that somebody was removed for threatening execution on the president, that’s not to say that anybody in our group would cry if Trump died from choking on a ham sandwich tomorrow,” Greaves tells me. “We wouldn’t say we ‘lost a great man’ or anything like that—nobody feels that way. But because we’re publicly Satanists, we’re very vulnerable to accusations, and we’re a grassroots movement that can only finance so much of our litigation, and so much of our legal defense. If there’s a concerted effort by the state to shut us down, it might be tough to keep up with legal bills.”
Greaves also wants to stress, “We are a nonviolent organization, and it’s imperative that people know this about us. We are not going to be planting bombs, shooting people, or advocating for any type of violence whatsoever, so we felt we really had no choice at that point. She and I were very close, and it was a painful experience, but I don’t think we did the wrong thing.”
Hail Satan? will be released by Magnolia Pictures later this year. Our full profile of Lucien Greaves is set to run later this week.