A group of Satanists from New York City have raised more than $17,000 in their efforts to erect a monument outside the Oklahoma Statehouse, saying they wish to counterbalance a Ten Commandments monument placed there in 2012.
The Satanic Temple unveiled the design of its 7-foot-tall monument featuring a seated Baphomet figure flanked by two children this week, and launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $20,000 last month.
“Our monument celebrates an unwavering respect for the Constitutional values of religious freedom and free expression,” explained Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple. “Satanism is a fundamental component at the genesis of American liberty. Medieval witch-hunts taught us to adopt presumption of innocence, secular law, and a more substantive burden of proof.”
After a rush of other religious groups, including Hindus and the atheist Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, proposed monuments of their own, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission voted unanimously to place a temporary moratorium on new monuments.
“This is a faith-based nation and a faith-based state,” said Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. “I think it is very offensive they would contemplate or even have this kind of conversation…”
Perish the thought a Christian fundamentalist would tolerate folks having a different belief.
Oklahoma isn’t the first state to wage its battle over the involvement of church in government: Last month, a secular group of students erected a monument to the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda.
“We would prefer to keep our Capitol secular but if the state decides to turn it into an open forum, they have opened the floodgates,” said Sam Erickson, president of the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “We hope everyone takes advantage of this opportunity to advertise their own viewpoints, no matter how silly.”
Living in a community that includes a few Charismatic Catholics who believe in the need for self-flagellation in order to qualify for entrance into their heaven – I certainly understand wide variety in beliefs as thoroughly as I do our national Constitution and the intent to maintain a nation independent of religious regulation.
That we still have states sufficiently backwards as to require a state religion is no more a surprise than communities capable of voting to force second-class citizenship upon Americans by virtue of color, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.