US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) waits to speak at the Heritage Foundation January 28, 2014 in Washington, DC. Cruz and others spoke about the upcoming winter Olympics in Sochi and Russia's human rights record.National Journal

At a speech to an antiabortion crowd in Washington on Wednesday night, Republican lawmakers outdid each other to denounce abortion. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah accused abortion-rights supporters of engaging in "savagery" and a "culture of death." Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said the logic behind abortion would also justify killing off senior citizens. And Sen. Ted Cruz likened abortion-rights supporters to Satanists:

Cruz said that at the rally outside the Texas Capitol [in Austin], abortion rights protesters walked "arm-in-arm, chanting 'Hail, Satan,' embracing the right to take the life of a late-term child."

How does an actual Satanist feel about that comparison?

Lucien Greaves, communications director of the Satanic Temple, says Cruz's comments oversimplify the issue by trying to inject religion into the abortion debate. Although pro-abortion-rights protesters did indeed chant "Hail Satan" at a rally outside the Texas Capitol, it was to combat antiabortion protesters who were singing "Amazing Grace."

"The message conveyed by the Hail Satan faction was, I feel, both salient and clear: Religious rationales used to justify certain views to some hold no currency whatsoever to scores of others," Greaves told National Journal. "Chanting 'Hail Satan' was an effective way of saying, 'You are going to have to argue your point on rational grounds. We do not subscribe to your religion.' "

Greaves says it's preposterous to think that the abortion-rights philosophy is actually rooted in Satanism, and that the Satanism movement isn't necessarily about devil worshipping, but a thumbing-of-the-nose to religious conservatives. "As homosexuals, pro-choice advocates, and others are ostracized by mainstream churches, more and more people conscientiously embrace Satanism as a metaphor for their rejection of oppressive religious cruelty," he said.

UPDATE (2:37 p.m.):

Catherine Frazier, Sen. Cruz's press secretary, had this to say: "Cruz did not liken or compare abortion advocates as Satanists — he told the truth about a protest in Austin."

For clarification, here are Cruz's exact remarks referencing the protest in Austin:

"Pro-life protesters put their arms around each other and began singing 'Amazing grace. And the pro-abortion protesters began chanting, 'Hail Satan.' You know, there comes a point where you can't make this stuff up. At least it's truth-in-advertising! But that is, in fact, what they were doing, arm in arm, chanting, 'Hail Satan,' embracing the right to take the life of a late-term child."

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the location of the Susan B. Anthony List summit. It took place in Washington, D.C.

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