In Salem, where witches and the supernatural have long been pillars of the economy, the opening of yet another business dedicated to the dark side may have escaped your attention.
But it didn’t evade the radar of police, who were called to quell a disturbance there on the day of its grand opening last Friday.
It happened at a Victorian house on Bridge Street, the new international headquarters of The Satanic Temple, an organization with 17 US chapters and five abroad.
Police officers responded to the scene and spoke to a temple official, who claimed a woman was making disparaging remarks about him to patrons. The woman told police she was merely there to protest the grand opening.
Police advised her and the temple official to respect each other’s constitutional rights under the First Amendment. The woman was advised to stay off private property and not interfere with people going in and out; the temple official was told he could seek to obtain a harrassment prevention order in court. He told officers he’d consider doing so.
Prior to the temple’s opening, Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll’s office said it had received only a smattering of phone calls from people expressing concerns.
“As Satanists,’’ the organization proclaims in its mission statement, “we all should be guided by our consciences to undertake noble pursuits guided by our individual wills.’’
The new temple has a 7½-foot-tall bronze statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed idol with wings, an online store that sells pentagram pendants, and T-shirts adorned with slogans like “HAIL SATAN, EST. 666,” according to its website.
Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.