The Satanic Temple last week launched a huge billboard in Springtown, Texas that read: “Never be hit in school again. Exercise your religious rights.” The billboard takes aim at public schools that practice Corporal Punishment and other abusive activities, which according to the controversial organization is a violation of civil rights.

In 2012, Springtown hit headlines after two female students aged 15 and 16 were spanked by a male vice principal. According to the teens’ parents, the incident caused “welts, blisters and bruises.”

Corporal punishment still legal in Texas

After corporal punishment became a big issue in Springtown five years ago, the school district chose to allow opposite-sex punishment but with parental permission.

At the time, it was illegal for a member of the opposite sex to do so.

In a press release, The Satanic Temple expressed its opposition to paddling, and called Springtown a “barbaric backwater town.” The group also called the town a “disgrace” and the billboard should prove disturbing to locals.

The billboard, seen on Highway 199, has since been taken down by unnamed locals a day after it was erected. However, The Satanic Temple promises to have it reinstated. The organization plans to post more billboards of the same message near schools that follow SISD’s spanking policy, which is practiced by 19 states including Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama.

What is The Satanic Temple?

Based in Massachusetts, the organization, despite the name, does not worship Satan. According to its website, the members are atheists who view Satan as a symbol of the “Eternal Rebel” opposing arbitrary authority.

The group is encouraging members of the community who are students in US public schools to take part in the movement by registering and informing their respective schools that corporal punishment is an abuse of their civil rights. However, a 1977 ruling by the US Supreme Court says that paddling or spanking in schools is allowed as long as it has not been explicitly outlawed by local authorities.