‘Highway to Hell’ has roadside cleanup in southern Arizona

(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)
Updated: Feb. 1, 2018 at 5:17 PM MST
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(Source: Satanic Temple Arizona Chapter)
(Source: Satanic Temple Arizona Chapter)

CASA GRANDE, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's not forged in the fiery depths of hell and the sign post is not intended to drum up despair.

Simply, it's there to elicit enthusiasm that is matched by one excited member.

"I jumped in, both feet forward," said America Curl, a Satanist living in Tucson. "I was going to fight, cry, beg, plead, sit outside, and bribe people with cupcakes. I absolutely was going to do this highway cleanup if I had to do it on my own and picket - saying 'How dare you not let us do this?'"

The road for Curl and other Satanists has not always been easy riding. Usually, they get plenty of pushback on their public performances of practicing their beliefs.

The plan was plotted, this time around, to turn evil into good.

"They allow a lot of church groups to do it so we threw our name in the hat," Satanic Temple Arizona Chapter co-founder Stu de Haan told Tucson News Now.

He and Curl also threw in about $20 to apply for the signage with the Arizona Department of Transportation. They also gave a two-year commitment to clean up the highway.

The devil's deed was done.

A two-mile stretch along Interstate 10 in the heart of Casa Grande, south of Florence Boulevard, has been adopted by "The Satanic Temple Arizona" – as advertised in the signage.

There are seven fundamental tenets of the Satanic Temple including compassion and nobility. So it should come as no surprise that the "Highway to Hell" has a cleanup crew.

They have all pitched in, even using homemade metal pitchforks to help stab and collect trash along the interstate. Curl said they have had three cleanups since they started the effort in September 2017. They got a first look at their new sign during the cleanup January 27.

It's now posted prominently right in Pastor Ray McCormick's backyard.

"It's great that people in our community are wanting to pick up trash. I thought, 'Wow! Okay. Great. Good. We need more people involved in our city,'" McCormick said, talking about his initial reaction to the news. "Let's maybe not complain as much and let's get busy doing the same."

It's not the reaction you might expect from the religious leader of the NewLife Baptist Church.

He's a man with widely different viewpoints and beliefs than those of the Satanists. They are as polar opposite as light and dark in most all aspects.

"There's a lot of Golden Rule type stuff, like in any other religion. It's very individualistic, in general - Satanism - but that doesn't mean that you can't do stuff because it makes you feel good or do stuff because you just want to," de Haan said. "We all live in this community. Nobody wants to see it trashed up, no matter what your faith is."

Even with pure intentions, don't expect Satanist and Baptist to walk hand-in-hand on this project anytime soon.

"I don't study Satanism, I study Christ. So I would know, based upon scripture, that our end purposes would be different. The end goals. Not the cleaning of a community. Not the propelling of our beliefs. But the end goal would be different," McCormick said. "So, could I necessarily join hands with that? I may pick another street. I may go another direction. We may walk on the same road together. But our end goal will never be the same."

To any detractors of de Haan's deed, angered about the idea of the group volunteering for community service, his message was clear: "Get over it."

"I'm not all that worried about their negativity," Curl said. "Because I know that this project is just for good and it benefits them even if they can't see it."

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