The Satanic Temple, a group that says it is more about being anti-religion than pro-Satan, is getting ready to unveil a statue of Baphomet — a goat-headed deity created in the Middle Ages and chosen by the Church of Satan as its symbol in 1969 — at a super-secret location in Detroit.
One of the co-founders of the Satanic Temple movement, who goes by the pseudonym Lucien Greaves, told the Associated Press the group has been forced into hiding because of death threats following the announcement that the Baphomet statue would be unveiled on July 25.
The location of the ceremony is now known only to Greaves, Satanic Temple co-founder Malcolm Jarry, also a pseudonym, and ticket holders who are paying $25 to get into the event or $75 to have a photo of themselves taken alongside the statue.
The ceremony will be “accompanied by provocative performances,” according to a press release posted on the Satanic Temple’s website.
“Never before seen in public, The Satanic Temple Baphomet monument is already the most controversial and politically charged contemporary work of art in the world. Weighing one ton and towering at nearly nine feet tall, the bronze statue is not only an unparalleled artistic triumph, but stands as a testament to plurality and the power of collective action. The event will serve as a call-to-arms from which we’ll kick off our largest fight to date in the name of individual rights to free exercise against self-serving theocrats.”
The statue will not stay in Detroit, at least that is not the Satanic Temple’s plan. They want to ship it to Arkansas as a protest against legislation that will allow the construction of a privately funded Ten Commandments monument on the State Capitol grounds in Little Rock.
Greaves and Jarry insist the Satanic Temple, despite its name, is not about worshipping Satan. Instead, they say it is a statement against all religion. And they say their problem with setting up a monument of the Ten Commandments on Arkansas state property is nothing against Christianity. It is more that they see this as a separation of church and state issue.
State Sen. Jason Rapert, who sponsored the Ten Commandments monument proposal in the Arkansas Senate, is ready for a court battle, if that is what it takes. He argued on his Facebook page there is no room for Satan anywhere in Arkansas.
Greaves has challenged Rapert to a debate, but the Republican has refused because “the Devil is liar.”
“My friends, our nation is on dangerous ground. The spirit of Anti-Christ is raging and I urge you all to seek God, cover this nation in prayer and earnestly contend for the faith,” Rapert wrote on his Facebook page.
“Though the Ten Commandments Monument has nothing whatsoever to do with endorsing any ‘religion’ but rather our choice to honor the historical moral foundation of law which has contributed to American Jurisprudence, these fringe groups absolutely hate anything that is recorded in the Bible,” he added.
Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Ark.) sponsored the Ten Commandments monument proposal in the Arkansas House. He said the Satanic Temple’s organizers and others who have a problem with the monument being put on state land don’t understand his motivation.
“I believe the Ten Commandments are very historic in nature as in going back to the founding of our nation,” Hammer told the American Family News Network. “They deserve a spot on capitol grounds along with other monuments that have been icons for particular events in the state.”
Hammer also said there are a few of those other monuments that have been placed on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds that have a religious connection.
One is a Civil War soldier overshadowed by a guardian angel. There is also a firemen’s memorial with an Angel of Mercy.
“If the Ten Commandments are good enough to be engrained into the facade of the U.S. Supreme Court Chamber, the likeness of Moses carved into the walls of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Ten Commandments emblazoned into the floor of the National Archives,” Rapert wrote, “I believe they are good enough to be displayed on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol.”
Jerry Cox, the spokesman of the Arkansas Family Council, is no fan of the Satanic Temple planting its statue in Little Rock.
But he also cautions this is not going to be a simple project for the Satanic Temple. The Arkansas Legislature is going to have to approve it, and they won’t be back in session until 2016.
And when the Legislature does get back to work, who do you think is going to want to sponsor a proposal from the Satanic Temple?
Cox told the American Family News Network this might be nothing but a Satanic Temple publicity stunt.
“They’re trying to use this as a way to attack the Ten Commandments monument,” he said. “But like it or not, the Ten Commandments and our Judeo-Christian heritage is the heart and soul of who we are in the West as Western cultures.”
This could be nothing by a ploy for publicity, but this is not the first time the Satanic Temple has tried to plant its flag in the form of a nine-foot-tall, one-ton statue of an occult deity.
The Satanic Temple’s first choice for a home for Baphomet was Oklahoma. As in Arkansas, it was a statement against the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on state property.
Because of the legal battle that sparked, Greaves and Jarry take at least partial credit for the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision against the monument in Oklahoma City. By a 7-2 ruling, the state Supreme Court justices ruled it was a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Now Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is refusing to obey the Supreme Court order and some are calling for state’s Supreme Court justices to be impeached.
The Satanic Temple is trying again to get a Baphomet statue on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds and Hindus say they want a statute of Lord Hanuman to honor Hindus living in Oklahoma on state property.
So, if what is happening in Oklahoma is any indication, the unveiling of Baphomet in Detroit could be just the beginning of the religious and judicial conflict — along with a nice payday for more than a few attorneys — to come in Arkansas.