A bronze statue of the satanic goat monster Baphomet was unveiled on Thursday at the Arkansas Capitol building in front of a cheering crowd of free-speech activists and a smaller crowd of unhappy people holding handwritten Bible verses. The satanists are doing it to protest a Ten Commandments monument already on the Capitol grounds.
With Satanists, atheists and Christians among those in attendance, several speakers called for the removal of the Ten Commandments monument or for state government officials to install Baphomet as well.
The Satanic Temple said the Ten Commandments monument violates constitutional freedom of religion rights and that installation of their statue will demonstrate religious tolerance.
Satanic Arkansas cofounder Ivy Forrester, who helped organize the rally, said “if you’re going to have one religious monument up there, then it should be open to others, and if you don’t agree with that then let’s just not have any at all.”
The Ten Commandments monument was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jason Rapert and installed quietly in 2017. Less than 24 hours after its installation, a man drove his car into the monument, smashing it to pieces.
Rapert said he respected the protesters’ First Amendment rights, but also called them “extremists” and said “it will be a very cold day in hell before an offensive statue will be forced upon us to be permanently erected on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol.”
The statue of Baphomet, who is seated and accompanied by two smiling children, can’t be installed under a 2017 law that requires legislative sponsorship for consideration of any monument.
The thing about members of the Satanic Temple is that they don’t actually worship Satan. Or, at least, devil worship is not a requirement to join the organization. “The Satan of Modern Satanism is a metaphorical icon for Enlightenment values,”.
In other words, the temple is a group of atheists, humanists and free-speech activists. They tend to use satanic imagery to mess with governments they feel are violating the separation of church and state.