A Harvard student group held on for as long as it could in its effort to stage a Satanic Mass on the campus. But in the end, opposition proved to be too great.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club had planned to stage the Black Mass on campus as a way of learning about the cultural impact of the ceremony. There was to have been a narrator for the event who would outline each step of the rite and explain its significance.
The student group insisted that they meant no disrespect to any religion by holding the Satanic Mass, but rather were simply trying to study it.
“Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices,” the club said.
The group received loads of resistance from students and administrators at Harvard, including the University President, Drew Faust, who said in a statement, “Vigorous and open discussion and debate are essential to the pursuit of knowledge, and we must uphold these values even in the face of controversy. Freedom of expression, as Justice Holmes famously said long ago, protects not only free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”
Even so, Faust said she would protest the event by attending a different ceremony at the same time.
A spokesman for the group asked why tolerance is extended to some groups and not others. “What do we really think that religious freedom and free speech demands of us?” Christopher Robichaud, a lecturer who was to have spoken at the event said. “Does religious tolerance demand only tolerance of rituals that aren’t offensive?”
The archdiocese of Boston too great umbrage to the students’ plan for the rite, pointing out that it is designed specifically to parody and denigrate the Catholic Eucharist rite.
When a site for the event could not be secured, the group canceled the on-campus event.
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