LITTLE ROCK, AR — As long as believers of Christianity are allowed to have their religious symbols on government property, the Satanic Temple should be able to as well, according to their spokesman. That’s why the Temple has placed a statue of Baphomet, the winged, hoofed figure common in Satanic traditions, at the Arkansas State Capitol by the 10 Commandments, “essentially merging the cases,” of the separation of church and state, the Satanic Temple’s spokesman said.
“Having offered a monument of their own in honor of pluralism and religious freedom, The Satanic Temple now intends to sue the state of Arkansas, arguing that the rejection of their monument establishes unconstitutional religious preference by the state,” they said on their website.
Hundreds attended the event in an effort to separate church from state. The Satanic Temple is forcing the state to either accept the Satanic monument or show religious preference to one religion over another, which would oppose the idea of freedom of religion.
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Malcolm Jarry, a co-founder of the Satanic Temple, told Patch the meaning of Baphomet is similar to the idea of yin and yang, focusing on the balance and harmony of opposites. “It is both human and animal, divine and mortal, and male and female as represented by the children. As a contrast to the Ten Commandments, the Baphomet would continue to fulfill that purpose of promoting harmonious reconciliation,” Jarry said. “This is why we want it placed next to the Ten Commandments if it is to be on public property as opposed to our statue being displayed alone.”
The Satanic Temple has been far from quiet in making their beliefs known on a wide scale. As an organization which believes in full bodily autonomy, they challenged the abortion laws of Missouri and won, according to the Pacific Standard.
In that case, “Mary Doe,” a pregnant Satanic Temple member, was forced to wait 72 hours and to have an ultrasound alongside “informed consent materials.” This, the Satanic Temple said, violated the central religious principle of the Temple of bodily autonomy, the power to decide what happens to one’s own body.
The Satanic Temple does not worship, but is closer in thought to humanists in their beliefs in that bodily autonomy is among the highest of human rights. They contended that the state was violating the woman’s bodily autonomy and religious rights by forcing certain procedures upon her before allowing her to have an abortion.
On the statues of the 10 Commandments and the statue of Baphomet at the State Capitol, the Satanic Temple said state lawmakers “directly stated that the placement of the Ten Commandments at the Capitol was not to be ‘construed to mean the state of Arkansas favors any particular religion or denomination over another,’ in recognition of the fact that such viewpoint discrimination would be illegal. But if the bill itself couldn’t be construed as religious favoritism, the state’s rejection of other religious viewpoints certainly is.”
The Satanic Temple’s co-founder, Lucien Greaves, said that as long as the 10 Commandments, a religious set of rules, is displayed on government grounds, then the Satanic Temple will place their religious symbols on the same grounds “essentially merging the cases.”
“The Satanic Temple has been going through the application process to have our Baphomet statue on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol near a proposed statue of the Ten Commandments. There are still more hurdles, but our site plan was approved,” the Satanic Temple’s website said.
What is Satanism?
Most Satanists do not subscribe to the supernatural, nor that any representation of the devil truly exists, Jarry told Patch. They see even the Satanic Bible, published in 1969, as a product of its time and don’t necessarily adhere to it, refusing to make any texts sacred. Those who believe in the supernatural have a place in the Satanic Temple, but do not represent the majority of its members.
Jarry said members of the Satanic Temple reject “any sort of physical or metaphysical representation of the devil,” and instead see Satan as a representation of “the indomitable human spirit struggling for wisdom and knowledge in the face of oppressive forces.”
Many of the Satanic Temple’s followers identify as “outsiders,” Jarry said, adding that the concept of Baphomet enables “harmonious inclusion with the rest of society including those who might stand in opposition.”
Jarry told Patch there is a “comical” misconception about the Satanic Temple in which people think they are illegitimate solely because they “don’t worship some image of evil incarnate.” A part of Satanism is a rejection of the mainstream idea of what a religion should entail. They reject the idea that “religious entities must strictly conform to their preconceived notions in order to be valid,” he said.
He added that the Satanic Temple, alongside fighting for civil rights, supports its chapters which “raise money for animals shelters, support the homeless with various drives for necessities, and actively engage in other worthy causes.”
Article image courtesy of the Satanic Temple