The Harvard Extension School’s Cultural Studies Club was hosting a series of events exploring different cultures.
After the group canceled the on-campus event, the New York-based Satanic Temple staged its own ceremony off-campus, reports the Harvard Crimson.
Harvard professor Christopher Robichaud was scheduled to give a lecture on religious liberty at the Black Mass event.
“Our tolerance of religions shouldn’t depend on the vicissitudes of public opinion,” he said in an interview with USA TODAY Network.
The event expectedly would offend people, but Robichaud said he did not believe that was the purpose of its organizers, he said.
Robichaud said he was disappointed in how extreme the pushback against the event became.
“The goal turned from ‘We want to share our discomfort with this,’ to, ‘We want it shut down,'” he said. “If it happens at places like Harvard, I don’t know what expectations we should have.”
Harvard President Drew Faust did not force the student group to cancel the event and said the decision to hold the event was up to the students. But Faust added in a statement that the event would be “so flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory.”
The Harvard Extension School said in a statement it encouraged students to assemble freely. However, “we do not agree with the student group’s decision to stage an event that is so deeply disturbing and offensive to many in the Harvard community and beyond.”
The Archdiocese of Boston last week said the Black Mass mocks the Catholic Mass.
In response, the archdiocese organized a Eucharistic procession and holy hour Monday evening at St. Paul Church on campus. Faust said she was attending the holy hour to reaffirm “our respect for the Catholic faith at Harvard.”