“The Satanic Temple” unveiled its proposal for a monument it intends to erect next to another religious statue: a depiction of the Ten Commandments on the Oklahoma State Capitol. Illustration courtesy of The Satanic Temple

The Satanic Temple unveiled its proposal for a monument it intends to erect next to another religious statue: a depiction of the Ten Commandments on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds. Illustration courtesy of the Satanic Temple


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

(RNS) Just what every town needs: a 7-foot satanic statue.

Believe it or not, Oklahoma received a proposal last week from the New York-based Satanic Temple for just such a figure to be placed near the state Capitol. The monument depicts Baphomet, a goat-headed pagan idol, sitting on a throne inscribed with an inverted pentagram.

According to a spokesman for the temple, “The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”

The homage to the Prince of Darkness comes in response to the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol in 2012. Beelzebub’s boosters argue that if the government can place an overtly Judeo-Christian monument on its property, then to avoid running afoul of the Constitution, it must accept monuments from other faiths.

The Satanists might have a point.

Steven Waldman, author of “Founding Faith: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious Liberty,” told me, “This (satanic statue) is the inevitable outcome of what religious conservatives set in motion” with their efforts to bring more religion into the public square.

He added, “As James Madison said, even government efforts to help religion will backfire and hurt religion.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing in the Oklahoma state courts to have the Ten Commandments statue removed, makes a similar argument.

Brady Henderson of the Oklahoma ACLU points to Florida as a cautionary tale. The placement of a Nativity scene on the state Capitol grounds led to a free-for-all.

He told me: “To get around the First Amendment problems, they had to let other groups in. So, next to the creche was a Festivus pole and Flying Spaghetti Monster. We don’t want our state to become (like that). Here is something with thousands of years of tradition next to a joke from Seinfeld, and the government is presenting them as equals. That cheapens a lot of people’s faith. The only one who is happy is the one who wants to make a mockery of religion.”

True enough. After word spread of the Satanists’ goat-headed gambit, the Oklahoma government received an inquiry from the “Pastafarians,” who worship at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Even if the Oklahoma court determines that placement of the Ten Commandments on public property is legal, that wouldn’t make it wise.

Kirsten Powers portrait by Len Spoden Photography, courtesy of Kristen Powers.

Kirsten Powers writes weekly for USA Today and is a Fox News political analyst. Photo by Len Spoden Photography, courtesy of Kristen Powers


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

While the Founding Fathers mostly saw religion as positive for society, they also believed that government should not play favorites among the faiths. The ACLU complains that, in addition to endorsing the Christian faith, the Oklahoma government has chosen to use “an English translation of the Ten Commandments inconsistent with those officially adopted by the Catholic Church and within Orthodox Judaism, generally conforming more closely to particular Protestant interpretations of the text.”

It seems that if Oklahoma Christians want to imbue society with their values, there are better ways to do it that respect the pluralistic nature of our society. Perhaps they should just focus on living out the Ten Commandments and ditch the monuments.

(Kirsten Powers writes weekly for USA Today and is a Fox News political analyst.)

MG END POWERS

 

28 Comments

  1. Like all Atheists, I don’t believe in any Gods. That includes Satan.

    But Christians think they own the public square in the USA so anything to wake them up from that fantasy is fine with me.

    Now the other fantasy, Theism, can be argued more clearly.

    • Michael Lawrence

      Kirsten Powers who claims to be a born again Christian, has reverted back to her extreme secularism is this rather shallow, misinterpreted concept of the American Constitution and Christianity. No where in the Constitution does it call for the ‘separation of Church and state.’ The correct wording is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The emphasis here should be the ‘free exercise thereof’ since the founders advocated the distribution of the Bible to all educational institutions and by their historic writings its clear the founding documents and subsequent laws are based upon the evolving Judeo Christian Ideologies of their times. The separation of Church and State concept is taken out of context when being refered to by Thomas Jefferson in his quest to establish a government exempt from the totalitariqn concept of Divine Right. The greatest misconception by modern secularist, atheisit and cultist is to believe that the founding fathers intended for any abberrant cult or misanthropic ideology to be classifed as a “Religion.” In this case one can assume by common sense and the antipathy to the very system that allows these miscreants to spawn, that tolerance and recognition has been one of the great acts of criminal negligence on the part of the modern Supreme Court and Congress. The Hindus, having a religion that dates back tens of thousands of years before Christianity were founded by the forrunners of Christs teachings and their solution to the miscreant problem involved swift and terminal justice. I’d like to offer a quote from a book that I’m sure no one here has read inclulding the author of this article, but which might shed some light on the tremendous confusion and intellectual failure of so much of modern society. The Urantia Book represents the Epochal Revelations of this age sent to our planet to enlighten those who truly seek the answer to Gods existence, the nature of His relationship to man, our individual and planetary history and destiny, and the corresponding sciences and mathematics that validate these Revelations: “Secularism has been fostered by two world-wide influences. The father of secularism was the narrow-minded and godless attitude of nineteenth- and twentieth-century so-called science — atheistic science. The mother of modern secularism was the totalitarian medieval Christian church. Secularism had its inception as a rising protest against the almost complete domination of Western civilization by the institutionalized Christian church. Secularism no sooner frees man from the domination of the institutionalized church than it sells him into slavish bondage to the totalitarian state. Secularism frees man from ecclesiastical slavery only to betray him into the tyranny of political and economic slavery. A mechanistic philosophy of life and the universe cannot be scientific because science recognizes and deals only with materials and facts. Philosophy is inevitably superscientific. Man is a material fact of nature, but his life is a phenomenon which transcends the material levels of nature in that it exhibits the control attributes of mind and the creative qualities of spirit. The beauty and sublimity, the humanity and divinity, the simplicity and uniqueness, of Jesus’ life on earth present such a striking and appealing picture of man-saving and God-revealing that the theologians and philosophers of all time should be effectively restrained from daring to form creeds or create theological systems of spiritual bondage out of such a transcendental bestowal of God in the form of man. In Jesus the universe produced a mortal man in whom the spirit of love triumphed over the material handicaps of time and overcame the fact of physical origin.
      Ever bear in mind — God and men need each other. They are mutually necessary to the full and final attainment of eternal personality experience in the divine destiny of universe finality.
      “The kingdom of God is within you” was probably the greatest pronouncement Jesus ever made, next to the declaration that his Father is a living and loving spirit.

      • If you believed in paragraph breaks I would take more of your nonsense apart.

        First of all Separation of Church and State predates the Constitution by a century. Roger Williams, founder of RI first put it to pen in the 1600’s. William Penn codified such concepts in the charter for the Pennsylvania colony. It was later ennunciated by the Flushing Remonstrance of New York

        Your attribution to Jefferson is David Barton’s WallBuilders fiction.

        Separation of Church and State is the ONLY way to guarantee religious freedom for all people. You obviously do not want such things and seek to have your faith given the color of law. To be able to engage in sectarian discrimination. The precise activity the Founders knew would happen when religion is made part of the government apparatus.

        Second, who gives you the authority to judge what beliefs constitute a legitimate religion and which ones don’t? None.

        “its clear the founding documents and subsequent laws are based upon the evolving Judeo Christian Ideologies of their times.”

        This is an outright lie.

        You can’t even define what constitutes “Judeo Christian Ideologies” without some kind of circular, fictional definition. One which amounts to dishonestly taking credit to your religion for things common to all societies.

      • Wow. What a massive recapitulation of militant Christianist propaganda and lies. All of this has been debunked long ago. I will, nevertheless, address a few of these tired-&-worn-out talking points:

        Re: “No where in the Constitution does it call for the ‘separation of Church and state.’”

        True, those precise words aren’t there, but this is irrelevant to the reality that SOCAS is implied in the Bill of Rights. You must be unaware of what the author of the First Amendment, James Madison, had to say on the matter:

        “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.”

        Madison had a great deal to say on the matter … but none of it coincides with anything militant Christianists claim. And you might want to know that Madison … again, the author of the First Amendment … helped establish SOCAS. Jefferson had nothing to do with it (IIRC he was in Paris at the time of the Constitutional Convention).

        You may as well know, right now, that there are other rights that Americans enjoy, which are not stated explicitly in the Bill of Rights, but are implied in it, but that doesn’t make them any less real or enforceable.

        Re: “The correct wording is that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'”

        Gosh, thank you for informing us of something that none of us could possibly have found out on our own! Why, you’ve provided us all with a stunningly valuable service. Words cannot convey how grateful I am to you for telling us the incredibly obvious!

        Re: “The emphasis here should be the ‘free exercise thereof’ …”

        Granting people “free exercise” of religion, does not grant them control over other people. That is, you’re free to believe as you wish and worship as you wish, but this license doesn’t permit you to force others to believe and worship as you demand they do. It just doesn’t.

        Re: “Secularism frees man from ecclesiastical slavery only to betray him into the tyranny of political and economic slavery.”

        Actually, secularism gave you the government you have, and its Constitution with all its freedoms listed with in it (which, again, I find I must thank you greatly for quoting at us). Stamp and fume about it all you like, but you’re reaping its benefits even now.

        Re: “Ever bear in mind — God and men need each other. They are mutually necessary to the full and final attainment of eternal personality experience in the divine destiny of universe finality.”

        So you’re telling me that I need your God even if I don’t think I do? Who are you to give me orders like that? How do you intend to impose that imperative on me?

        If you want me to believe as you do and worship your deity with you, then you just track me down and make me believe and worship as you demand. Go ahead. I dare you to give it your best shot. If it’s such an entrenched mandate, why would you not do everything in your power to make it happen?

      • MICHAEL LAWRENCE,

        You said,
        “The correct wording is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

        What don’t you understand about this?
        This means government property shall not be used to SELL RELIGION of any kind.

        got it?

  2. Hey, Ronald…

    “Satanists should be persecuted and destroyed…”

    Why is it that humans always find a way to do God’s dirty work for him?
    Why not just let the Satanists live to a ripe old age and then let God send them to Hell as you believe that is where they are going anyway?

    I mean, a few more years doesn’t compare to the eternity in Hell which awaits them, right?

    But we’ll have to take your words at face value.
    In addition to being a fantasy, religion is a mortal danger to everyone.

    • Ronald Sevenster

      The State has no divine obligation concerning the establishment of religion, such as Judaism or Christianity. But the State is bound to uphold the laws which HaShem gave to Noah after the flood. These laws are the very foundation of enduring Statehood and any State that neglects or opposes them does so to his own peril. The Noahide laws are the six prohibitions of (1) idolatry, (2) blasphemy, (3) murder, (4) sexual immorality (5) theft (6) eating the limb of a living animal and/or eating blood, plus the positive commandment of (7) establising a legal system to uphold and enforce these laws.

      The argument you make against relgion is moot, since it is based on ultimate convictions, which are always religious in nature. Anti-religionism is also a religion, also a deficient one since it fails to grasp the religious nature of its own viewpoint.

      • “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

        Do you understand what that means?

        It means whatever you think about laws concerning post-flood Noah are irrelevant to the subject. Our government does not have to consider the laws set forth by ANY religion. Laws in this nation have to be secular and rational in purpose. If they cannot be shown to be both, they are not valid.

        Only two of the prohibitions you listed would ever be considered criminal laws in a free and democratic society. They are the most basic rules of any functioning society. Even ones that never heard of the Bible or take it seriously.

        Your argument is self-serving and ignorant.

      • Who is this “Hashem”? He or she is not to be found in my Bible.

        Oh, yes, I know what you are up to–using an obscure, nonstandard word to refer to the God of the Bible, a practice akin to that of using the several variants of “Jesus”, as some do in their attempt to seem theologically astute.

        “God” or “The Lord” and “Jesus” are sufficient. The various obscurities trotted out by self-anointed sophisticates do not impress anyone but themselves.

      • May I present the GREATEST ATHEIST CLUB IN HISTORY
        THE Founding Fathers
        of the United States of America:

        George Washington (ATHEIST) – “The United States” is “in no way a Christian nation”

        James Madison (DEIST) – “Religion debilitates the mind” it is “superstition” and “tyranny” we “need it not”

        Benjamin Franklin (ATHEIST) – “Faith shuts the eyes of reason”

        Thomas Paine (ATHEIST) – “All churches… are built to enslave and terrify mankind and monopolize power”

        Thomas Jefferson (DEIST) – “The Preacher” is always “allied with the despots”

        John Adams (DEIST) – “As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed”

        John Jay (Christian) – “i pray sometimes…for what good it does I cannot say”

        Alexander Hamilton (DEIST) – “Men are reasoning rather than reasonable animals.”

        Abraham Lincoln (ATHEIST) – “The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my religion.”

      • if you are going to include “Noahide Law” how about including the punishment for inadvertently viewing parents in their birthday suits while said parents were stone drunk in their tent? That’s how slavery was first justified; Ham saw Noah piss drunk and nude, told his brothers Shem and Japeth, and the brothers were then promised Ham’s son Canaan as a slave because Ham saw their father in the nude. Nice bit of law there, don’t you think?

  3. I am not a believer, but I’d appreciate if one could answer a simple honest question about this subject for me.

    You see I have a difficult time understanding why the religious feel they need to display their symbols on publicly owned land. It is almost impossible to travel more than a few miles in most states, far less in the south, without passing at least one, if not several Christian Church’s, of one denomination or another.

    So with so many opportunities to display your religious symbols on land owned by the Church, why is it so very important for you to be able to display your symbols on land owned by everyone?

    • Earold,
      The reason religious people need physical symbols to affirm their faith is simple;

      There is no way to put your finger on a real God so the symbol is a physical ‘stand-in’.
      The collective, communal agreement on the ‘stand-in’ reaffirms the existence of the faith and thus the validity of the ‘stand-in’. It is a ‘touchstone’.

      The Touchstone becomes sacred immediately as a symbol between man and God reaffirming both.

      That is why religion is nonsense. I is built on faith which is worthless unless it is endlessly reaffirmed.

      Gods are fragile things, a whiff of logic or common sense can destroy them instantly.

      • Shaman, I appreciate your commnets, but it doesn’t answer my question. The question I have is why is it so very important for you (Religious people) to be able to display your symbols on land owned by everyone?

          • Au contraire, Shaman.

            Religion has flourished in this nation for 200 years and more without the need to plaster the public commons with religious symbols and monuments. There is, and for the life of this republic has been, ample opportunity for religionists of every kind to erect monuments, signage, and symbols of their beliefs on their own property–property that is visually accessible to the public while lying outside the ownership or proprietorship of the government. By contrast, in those nations where there is little or no separation of church and state, such as England, all kinds of religious displays are to be found on publicly-owned property, yet religion is on a steep downslide.
            Your high-sounding thesis of “confirmation of a communal agreement” simply does not resonate with the FACTS.

          • Well, Bighoss,
            What then is the point of these public displays of religion
            and the passions that surround them?
            Why do Christians care so much about this in the USA?

            I thought my explanation made the most sense. What other reason is there for all the hullabaloo?

          • So idolatry is what keeps religions alive? I wonder if there is anything in the Bible about that?

            Maybe one of the commandments plastered on the OK legislature lawn tells us. ;)

  4. I guess it depends on your definition of “unfair.” You could say its unfair for every religion and every joke on religion to not be represented. It’s also unfair that the taxpayers of Oklahoma, who own the land, don’t have the final say. Put it to a vote, let the residents decide what they want on their land.
    They could also put reasonable requirements on these requests for monuments such as requiring they come from groups located in the state, the artist and all contractors associated with its installation must be permanent residents of the state, must pay taxes in the state, the religion making the request must have a bona fide house of worship in the state, registered clergy, have filed for tax exempt status and received tax exempt donations for a period of at least 10 years, represent at least 5% of the pop of the state, and must include a petition of a thousand names of Ok registered voters in order to be put on a ballot for the vote.

    • Of course a move which is more in tune with democracy and civil liberties is to either let all comers put their religious symbols on the OK legislature grounds or none. It is not up to voters to decide which religion gets recognized by the state. It is not the role of government to endorse any given faith.

      The only reason for the “moratorium” was because the OK legislature could not cough up a reason for disallowing a Satanic and Hindu monument without revealing their sectarian prejudicies and inciting a lawsuit they will lose quickly.

    • Levying all those prerequisites upon a religious body desiring to place monumentation on public land would never pass constitutional muster. They are the religious equivalent of the literacy tests required by segregationist states in the unlamented erstwhiles.

  5. Kitty, it sounds like you’re advocating a tyranny of the majority. Thank goodness the taxpayers of Oklahoma don’t get to enact their own unconstitutional laws whenever they get the whim, regardless of America’s founding principles.

    • Kitty is indeed advocating a majority control . I suspect that Kitty is one of those conservatives who is fond of pointing out that this nation is “a constitutional republic, not a democracy,” but who nevertheless finds “majority rule” in order when she confidently finds herself among the majority.

      “Consistency, thou art a jewel,” but not to be found in the jewelry collections
      of the radical right!

  6. As long as Christians feel compelled to have idols on public property, Satanists ought to be allowed the same courtesy. After all … fair is fair, no?

    I guess I’m trying to figure out why Christians require all their religious monuments be placed ONLY on PUBLIC property. Is there anything preventing them from buying some plot of land and setting up whatever they want on it? Why do their idols need to be on government land? Why can’t they, or their churches, be home to such things?

    Another thing I don’t understand is this compulsion to build public monuments in the first place. Didn’t Jesus explicitly forbid his followers to display their piety in public? Didn’t he say, e.g., “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 6:1)? How exactly are Christian monuments not examples of the sort of public piety the founder of their religion condemned so long ago?

    And yet one more thing I don’t get: Why are Christians erecting so many idols, when their religion clearly forbids idolatry? Last I knew, both the Old and New Testaments were littered with explicit instructions not to create or venerate idols. Examples are Ex 20:4, Dt 5:8, Jn 2:8, Is 44:9, 1 Cor 10:14, & 1 Jn 5:21 … among many others I could cite. Do these verses no longer exist? Have they vanished from Christians’ Bibles without my having been aware of it?

    Maybe I just don’t understand these important, sacred considerations because I’m an insolent, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and haven’t been magically gifted with the required comprehension. Oh well.

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