In a move set to inflame millions, the Satanic Temple has filed a petition with the Arkansas Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission for permission to install a privately funded “Baphomet” monument alongside a monument to the Ten Commandments that was previously approved for the Capitol’s grounds.
The statue, which depicts a devilish half-man, half-goat, had originally been intended for the state capitol grounds in Oklahoma, but was in need of a new home after Oklahoma’s state Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Oklahoma’s previously approved monument of the Ten Commandments must be removed. In an email to The Washington Post, Satanic Temple spokesman Doug Mesner (a.k.a. Lucien Greaves) said, “The entire point of our effort was to offer a monument that would complement and contrast the 10 Commandments, reaffirming that we live in a nation that respects plurality, a nation that refuses to allow a single viewpoint to co-opt the power and authority of government institutions.”
In light of that Arkansas bill’s resemblance to the Oklahoma bill, the Temple chose Arkansas as an alternative site for the devil monument. The Satanic Temple is not the only organization to petition for a monument, however. In August, the Universal Society of Hinduism petitioned to build a privately funded statue of Hanuman on Capitol grounds, but that request was allegedly rejected because that organization sent it to the wrong agency.
We should note that The Satanic Temple does not worship Satan in the manner that Christians worship God. According to their FAQ under the bold headline “DO YOU WORSHIP SATAN?”
“It is the position of The Satanic Temple that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. The Satanist should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.”