The Satanic Temple is reportedly pursuing legal action against Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina — not only for using its copyrighted monument design of its central icon, but also misrepresenting the deity as “something evil.”
On Sunday, The Satanic Temple (TST) co-founder Lucien Greaves tweeted that Sabrina was promoting their “asinine Satanic Panic fiction,” using the Temple’s copyrighted statue design of Baphomet, a goat-headed deity typically associated with Satan. In the Netflix show, the monument sits in the center of the witchcraft school, the Academy of Unseen Arts, where half-witch Sabrina Spellman, played by Kiernan Shipka, is enrolled. While there, the Satan character — referred to as the “Dark Lord” — becomes Sabrina’s rival.
The Satanic Temple describes themselves as a “non-theistic religion,” meaning that they don’t believe in God or the Devil, though they do have deeply held beliefs they believe should be protected like any other religion’s; they’re best known for protesting Christian interference in the U.S. government in inventive (and often borderline troll-y) ways. Their biggest stunt to date was the creation of the Baphomet statue — a towering 8-foot tall structure, cast in bronze, which they intended to install next to a 6-foot tall statue of the Ten Commandments that had been erected on government property in Arkansas. Today, the Baphomet is stored at their headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts.
Speaking of the show’s use of the icon, Greaves told SF Gate, “It’s distressing on the grounds that you have to worry about that association being made where people will see your monument and not know which preceded the other … and thinking that you arbitrarily decided to go with the Sabrina design for your Baphomet monument, which rather cheapens our central icon.”
(As Broadly notes, while both representations bear resemblance to the mid-19th century illustration of Baphomet, both the TST and Sabrina’s depictions show the deity with two children at his side.)
The specifics of the legal action have not been reported, though Greaves said that he hopes Netflix will retract the visual representation; he also confirmed that the TST’s lawyer has sent a letter to Netflix. In a statement to Broadly, TST co-founder Malcolm Jarry said, “If a resolution cannot be worked out, we will take aggressive actions to protect our copyright.”
Potential copyright violation aside, Greaves said one of his main concerns is that people will see the TST’s central image as “something evil,” which would damage the group’s reputation.
“I feel that the use of our particular image that is recognized as our own central icon [being] displayed fictionally as central to some cannibalistic cult has real-world damaging effects for us,” Greaves said.