Franklin Graham has urged Christians to pray the eyes of a Satanic Temple leader would be "opened to the truth of the Gospel and his own personal need of a Savior" after he announced plans to roll out After School Satan Clubs at select public elementary schools across the nation this year.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Doug Mesner, the Satanic Temple's co-founder, said that if evangelical groups are able to influence after-school programs, Satanists should be able to, as well.
"It's critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think," Mesner, who goes by Lucien Greaves, told the Post.
According to the group's website, the "Educatin' with Satan" program will seek to counter the success of Christian clubs such as the "Good News Clubs" that have spread across America by focusing on the concepts of "critical reasoning, independent-thinking, fun and free thought."
Mesner told USA Today that TSA plans to host an hour-long club one a month, every month. Instead of teaching kids they "are sinners and going to Hell," the Satan club "will be providing a scientific after school club to balance the superstition being put forward by the Evangelical groups."
In a Facebook post shared on Monday, Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, lamented that the United States has already seen the "devastating effects of secularism" and urged believers to pray that God would transform Mesner's heart.
"Will you join me in doing something unexpected? Let's pray for this man's eyes to be opened to the truth of the Gospel and his own personal need of a Savior. Pray for his heart to be touched and softened by the working of God's Holy Spirit."
Graham, 64, emphasized that no one is beyond the reach of God's love and mercy, and used the Apostle Paul as an example: "Before he came to to faith, the Apostle Paul was once the greatest enemy and persecutor of the church," he recalled.
The evangelist also encouraged Christians to pray for school leadership to have wisdom to decline the letter of request for these After School Satan Clubs, which were sent out on Monday.
Mesner told the Post that the group has reached out to school districts in nine states that are located near local Satanic Temple chapters, all of which have hosted, or are now hosting, Good News Clubs.
He later told USA Today that his organization has received a flood of emails from volunteers in other states who want to help host after-school clubs and said he believes the presence of Satanists at local elementary schools will send a positive message.
"People will see that as an ironic statement that the message of Satanism is a positive message, but that's true," Mesner said. "When they see people ... living normal, healthy, productive lives and being decent people it makes them think more critically of the claims being put forth from Evangelicals."