The first "Greater Church of Lucifer" is preparing to open its doors in a Houston, Texas suburb, sparking controversy across the Bible Belt.
According to the Christian Examiner, the church will open in an old house in Old Town Spring, and promises to offer people a different kind of "church experience."
"We do not have a preacher. We do not have somebody saying this is the way it has to be, that you have to live this way," GCOL founder "Jacob No" told Houston's KPRC. "We're giving a platform for people to explore themselves with ultimate freedom, to be able to look in the mirror and say I understand you better."
He added, "We're getting a lot of hate, but we just want to coexist."
GCOL founders insist it is not a Satanist church, but rather a "foundation for the unique individual who dares to illuminate the inner-light of the Black Flame," according to their website. "As individuals, we seek to express our insight towards attaining apotheosis, Lords of our spiritual and carnal world. As a foundation, GCOL seeks to inspire the few in the masses towards self-excellence and change."
The website also claims that "The Greater Church of Lucifer is only a 'church' as a play on words. We are a gathering of like souls who seek to understand and live within the framework of Luciferianism as we understand it."
"A Luciferian would find it insulting to bow before any perceived deity," co-founder Michael Ford told KPRC. "We don't believe as a basis in the existence of a deity that wants us to worship it."
However, Christian Examiner notes that the church's symbolism is "decidedly Satanic," featuring figures of horned creatures, fallen angels and a Baphomet, a statue of a winged creature with hooves, the head of a goat and long horns.
Although the church will not open until October 30, it has already drawn ire from Christians around the country.
According to the church's Facebook page, one person placed a written copy of the Lord's Prayer on the church's doorstep, and the Luciferians say the message was soaked in "holy water or oil."
Others have taken to social media to protest the church's opening: wrote one woman, "Old Town Spring is one of my favorite places to go antiquing but if this is happening I won't go there anymore! Lord have mercy on us! This makes me cry and feeling sick to my stomach! Surely some protested this!? Days are getting darker!"
Added another, "Lord, please protect your children in Texas."
Despite this criticism, the leaders of GCOL say they refuse to be discouraged: "Even though we may catch some flak from some sources but we will not let this discourage us what so ever," No wrote on the group's Facebook page."Luciferians never bow down."