Bowser is not the only one who's gotten attention for posing as a Satanist, but he is one of the few outsiders who has been embraced by members of the Satanic Temple, an international nontheistic religious organization founded in Salem, Massachusetts, in 2012. "I think they see [Onyx] as a character," he says. "I'm not actually lampooning their beliefs; it's about his own eccentricities."
"Of course we have to be able to acknowledge that the Satanic Temple has a huge diverse crowd of supporters, and that's worth making fun of, I guess," says Jex Blackmore, a Detroit-based spokesperson for the Satanic Temple, or TST, who saw Bowser's parody as funny and harmless. "I think that's healthy and good... I don't see it as criticism." Others falsely claiming to be members of the Satanic Temple, however, have not been so well received.
Over the last several years, as the Satanic Temple has gained a sizable following and garnered significant media attention for its legal and political actions, it has attracted not just pranksters like Bowser, but also a gaggle of impersonators, hoaxers, and fraudsters. The actions of some individuals and groups have made it even tougher for the Satanic Temple to get its message across -- and for the public to decipher members of the Temple from other Satanists and from those seeking attention from its name and image.
To further complicate things, there's already a fair amount of confusion about what it means to be a Satanist in 2017, a year in which members of the Satanic Temple waged aggressive campaigns for reproductive freedom, civil rights, and LGBT protections. Though it doesn't claim to be an activist organization, the group tends to champion progressive causes that stand largely in opposition to the current administration. With chapters all over the globe, the Satanic Temple doesn't keep official numbers, but estimates hover in the thousands based on the numbers in its private Facebook groups.
"When we started, people maybe weren't sure what we represented, what we were about," says Blackmore. "Our organization grew exponentially over just a year or two when we first started, so we went through a process of figuring out how to vet campaigns or projects, how to vet formation of new chapters, and that was certainly a learning experience for us, and that was one reason why we formed an executive council for new ideas to make sure they're in line with our mission and our tenets."