The Satanic Temple, a group contesting the placement of a 10 Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds, will bring its Baphomet statue to the Arkansas Capitol for a “Rally for the First Amendment” from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 16.
The rally will protest the state’s decision to favor one religion, Christianity, over others in allowing Sen. Jason Rapert’s 10 commandments slab while prohibiting others. Rapert argues that the memorial is NOT about religion, though his words and those of other legislators in the course of authorizing the installation suggest otherwise.
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Said the Temple’s release:
The rally is intended to bring together religious leaders of different faiths to discuss the importance of the First Amendment and its protection for religious pluralism as being essential to preserve American democracy.
According to The Satanic Temple’s spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, “Freedom of Religion means that the government must not be allowed to endorse one religion over another or inhibit any religious voices from access to public forums in favor of another. By installing a Ten Commandments monument on their capitol grounds while rejecting other privately donated monuments of religious significance, the Arkansas State government has flagrantly violated a founding Constitutional principle, for which we call upon the people to rally with us to defend.”
The appearance of the 7½ foot bronze statue on Capitol grounds has been a long time coming. In August 2015, Arkansas Legislature passed a bill introduced by State Senator Stanley “Jason” Rapert to install a Ten Commandments statue on State Capitol grounds. By rejecting The Satanic Temple’s subsequent offer to donate its statue of Baphomet on Capitol grounds, Arkansas violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment by endorsing one religion over others.
The Satanic Temple’s application was blocked by an emergency-session bill that requires all monuments have legislative sponsorship. While the bill prevented the Baphomet statue from being considered, ironically it only magnifies the degree to which the State legislators are endorsing one religion over others and thereby deliberately rejecting the U.S. Constitution.
In April, the Ten Commandments monument was installed in Little Rock and in July, The Satanic Temple filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit opposing the Ten Commandments monument. The Satanic Temple is now seeking a court order to require the state to install the statue of Baphomet on the Capitol grounds.
Greaves explains, “This isn’t a rally of secularists versus people of faith, Satanists versus Christians, or outsiders versus Arkansas. This is a rally for all people who hold sacred the founding Constitutional principles of Religious Freedom and Free Expression that have fallen under assault by irresponsible politicians like Senator Rapert. We welcome people of all backgrounds and religious beliefs to stand with us.”
You can learn more about the campaign and help get Baphomet to the Arkansas Capitol ground by donating to the fundraiser at www.thesatanictemple.com.
The state of Arkansas, in opposing the Satanic Temple’s joining of the lawsuit by the ACLU and humanists against the monument, has argued that the Temple is just a satirical effort by people, including Greaves, who use pseudonyms. The state proves the Temple’s point, I
In any case, here’s the Temple’s description of itself:
The Satanic Temple is a non-theistic religious organization dedicated to Satanic practice and the promotion of Satanic rights. The Temple understands the Satanic figure as a symbol of man’s inherent nature, representative of the eternal rebel, enlightened inquiry and personal freedom rather than a supernatural deity or being. The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.
The Satanic Temple led the successful fight to remove a 10 Commandments monument from the Oklahoma Capitol grounds. It, too, was put in place by a legislator who raised money privately, as Rapert did. The Temple argued if that monument was allowed to stand, it should be allowed to put a Baphomet statue on the grounds. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the commandments removed.