The devil-may-care First Amendment rabble rousers from the Satanic Temple are continuing their effort to place a Baphomet monument next to the planned Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol decreed by the legislature. They have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request with Secretary of State Mark Martin requesting documents related application of monument requests for the Capitol grounds, including the Ten Commandments.
From the Satanists’ press release: “If we find that the 10 Commandments request has received preferred treatment over other monument requests, every organization offering an alternative monument to the 10 Commandments in AR may be able to file a discrimination claim. We will make the documents publicly available when the request is completed.”
The Satanists previously proposed a statue honoring Baphomet, a goat-headed pagan idol, in Oklahoma after the state legislature there decreed a similar Commandments monument. The group dropped the effort once the Oklahoma Supreme Court said that the Ten Commandments monument was unconstitutional.
In addition to the Satanic Temple, Hindus, atheists, and vegans have also asked about monuments in the wake of the legislature’s action for a Ten Commandments monument. The Republicans who backed the Ten Commandments monuments, however, have been less inclined to back monuments from other traditions, such as goat-head pagan idols. If the state is using public grounds to privilege particular religious traditions, lawsuits are inevitable.
You know what they say, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was the inherent tension between the establishment clause and the free exercise clause.
The Satanic Temple has previously offered to debate Sen. Jason Rapert, sponsor of the Ten Commandments bill, but the senator is afeared of Lucifer.
Full bit on Arkansas from the Satanic Temple press release:
Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that a Hindu organization offering a monument for placement on the Capitol grounds in Little Rock, AR, “issued a statement calling on Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin to set a meeting of the state Capitol’s grounds commission to discuss its request […]”
There has been no news since of any reply from State officials. Of course, The Satanic Temple has also offered to donate Baphomet to the Capitol grounds in Little Rock.
All of this comes in response to AR lawmakers’ recent passage of a Bill that specifically favors the erection of a privately donated 10 Commandments. While officials in Arkansas may feel confident that Satanists and Hindus are powerless against the Secretary of State Office’s ability to deliberate on their own time — while expediting the placement of the 10 Commandments — this isn’t actually the case. If, in fact, the 10 Commandments have been expedited, the State must afford other monument requests the same consideration, or a claim of discrimination may follow.
The Satanic Temple has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Secretary of State in Arkansas requesting visibility of documents related to the application and approval (or rejection) of monument requests for the Capitol grounds, including the 10 Commandments. Department of Justice standards require FOIA requests be responded to within a defined deadline. If we find that the 10 Commandments request has received preferred treatment over other monument requests, every organization offering an alternative monument to the 10 Commandments in AR may be able to file a discrimination claim. We will make the documents publicly available when the request is completed.