Controversial ‘Black Mass’ to Take Place Tonight

The "black mass" has been moved to an off-campus location.

The “black mass” has been moved to an off-campus location.

The Harvard Extension School Cultural Studies Club is set to host a “black mass” later tonight amid harsh opposition to the event. Originally planned to be held at Queen’s Head Pub in the University’s Memorial Hall, the “black mass” has been moved to an off-campus location mere hours before the event was supposed to take place. Harvard’s administration has been under fire from students, alumni, and the Greater Boston area. Multiple petitions have been created with around 50,000 signatures between them.

The official Harvard Extension Club released a statement for the event:

We are hosting a reenactment of a historical event known as a Black Mass. The performance is designed to be educational and is preceded by a lecture that provides the history, context, and origin of the Black Mass. While a piece of bread is used in the reenactment, the performance unequivocally does not include a consecrated host. 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. This performance is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture.


Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club

Harvard’s President Drew Faust wrote in a statement that freedom of expression is a value worth upholding especially when it involves “thought that we hate.” As multiple opinion pieces argued, the ‘black mass’ has historical foundations is mocking and denigrating the Catholic Church. “The decision by a student club to sponsor  an enactment of this ritual is abhorrent, President Faust wrote. “It represents a fundamental affront to the values of inclusion, belonging and mutual respect that must define our community.” Faust called for the club to take accountability for its own actions. She then ended the statement with a commitment to attend a “Eucharistic Holy Hour” to reaffirm the Harvard community’s “respect for the Catholic faith at Harvard and to demonstrate that the most powerful response to the offensive speech is not censorship, but reasoned discourse and robust dissent.”

The event is organized by the Satanic Temple, the same group responsible for the soon-to-be-erected satanist monument at the Oklahoma State House.