An undergraduate student group has announced plans to hold a Satanic "black mass" on Harvard's campus Monday evening, freaking out Catholics and conservatives who probably figured the Ivy was a dark servant of Beelzubub all along.

Via Boston Magazine:

Members of the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, who posted fliers and notices on campus and online about the Satanic worshipping happening on May 12, said the event is educational and meant to add historical context to a lecture on the subject that will precede it. "Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices," the group said in a statement. "This performance is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture."

The independent group, which is working with the Satanic Temple (of totally-metal-Oklahoma-statue fame), put out this flyer to promote the gathering:

Harvard Plans to Hail Satan, Confirms Conservative Fears About Harvard

Needless to say, handwringing handwringers in the right-wing blogosphere wrung their hands, although responses from the Catholic Diocese of Boston and the Catholic League were uncharacteristically measured.

For its part, Harvard's Extension School pointed out in a news release that it had no control over the students, but was content to let them do their thing:

Students at Harvard Extension School, like students at colleges across the nation, organize and operate a number of independent student organizations, representing a wide range of student interests.

Harvard Extension School does not endorse the views or activities of any independent student organization. But we do support the rights of our students and faculty to speak and assemble freely.

The school statement added that the Cultural Studies Club was planning an entire series of events—"including a Shinto tea ceremony, a Shaker exhibition, and a Buddhist presentation on meditation—as part of a student-led effort to explore different cultures." Considering the explosion in troll-culture's popularity in recent years, it seems only fair to have a Satanist thing, too.