What does the third tenet mean?

The third of the Seven Tenets is:

Tenet 3: One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.

As with all of the tenets, the third tenet is not a “commandment” nor is it rule to be forced on other people. The tenets are fundamental ethical principles that we strive to embody in our own thoughts and actions. Satanists interpret and apply the tenets differently. It is fundamentally unsatanic to use any tenet either to rationalize a decision or to try to coerce or manipulate the behaviors of others. For more general discussion of the Seven Tenets and their role in the religious beliefs of The Satanic Temple, see: What are the seven tenets?

The Religious Reproductive Rights Campaign frequently draws on Tenet III when advocating for the rights of our members to have full autonomy and control over their reproductive health decisions. We have a number of religious rituals that celebrate bodily autonomy, including the Satanic Abortion Ritual as well as rituals that celebrate and affirm gender identity. Although discussions of the Third Tenet most often arise in a political context in connection with reproductive health and the right to have unrestricted access to safe abortions, this tenet is also connected to issues such as body modification, the right to refuse medication and medical procedures, and the death-with-dignity movement.

During the first waves of COVID-19 in 2020, a number of people reached out to The Satanic Temple asking for a statement endorsing a religious exemption from vaccination. This was the official response to such requests:

The Satanic Temple believes in science, and the science on vaccines in general, including the COVID-19 vaccine, demonstrates that they are safe and that they help to prevent the spread of disease, as well as severe illness and hospitalization. Some exemptions do exist based on approved uses and recommendations from medical professionals, such as age or certain medical conditions, but ultimately these exemptions should be determined by a medical professional.

With any of our Tenets, there is a balancing act, and one should always be informed by the others. While Tenet 3 does advocate bodily autonomy, that has to be balanced against Tenet 1 (empathy & compassion) and Tenet 5 (scientific evidence guiding our beliefs). Because of this, The Satanic Temple will not endorse religious exemptions for vaccinations for its members. 

This is an illustration of the importance of using all of the tenets together as a system of thought, rather than simply trying to pick and choose tenets in order to justify a particular end. For more discussion of this idea, see: What are the seven tenets?


These are some services from the Satanic Ministry Archives that specifically explore topics related to Tenet 3:

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