A Satanist organization is seeking to build its own statue on the steps of the Oklahoma Statehouse, four years after the conservative legislature controversially approved building a Ten Commandments monument in the same place, in what critics called a blurring of the line between church and state.
The Satanic Temple on Jan. 6 released designs for a 7-foot-tall statue it hopes to install on the Oklahoma state Capitol grounds. The plans were formally submitted to the panel that oversees the site, but the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission has placed a moratorium on considering new statues.
Satanists unveil proposed statue for OK state capitol
"The statue will serve as a beacon calling for compassion and empathy among all living creatures… The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation."
Lucien Greaves, Satanic Temple spokesman
The Satanic Temple says it is partly satirical and is unrelated to the Satan of Judeo-Christian origins. The group often asserts its right to religious expression in order to challenge when the church-state divide is used by others to serve a "religious agenda."
"I think these Satanists are a different group. You put them under the nut category."
Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville)
The ACLU of Oklahoma said that if the "overly Christian" Ten Commandments monument is allowed to remain at the Capitol, lawmakers can't turn away the Satanists because of their "different religious viewpoint." The group said allowing no religious expression on state property might be preferable.
An atheist group filed a lawsuit in an Oklahoma federal court Jan. 14 to have the Ten Commandments statue removed. American Atheists contend the monument violates the constitution's establishment and equal protection clauses because it amounts to a religious endorsement on government land.
Atheist Group Sues to Remove 2,000 Pound Okla. Ten Commandments Display From Capitol Grounds
The state's conservative lawmakers have moved to increase the expression of Judeo-Christian beliefs in public spaces. For example, Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon has proposed building a chapel in the statehouse, following several other states.
Vice obtained access to the studio where the Baphomet bronze sculpture is being made. The Satanic Temple told Vice it intends to make a mold of the statue and take out an insurance policy on the statue. The Temple said depending on the policy, it may be able to mold two new statues if the original is destroyed by people who oppose it.
Here’s the First Look at the New Satanic Monument Being Built for Oklahoma’s Statehouse | VICE United States