"Mess with the devil, and you'll get the horns," seems to be the message members of the Satanic Temple are sending to the Oklahoma legislature.
In a move that has rankled many in this predominantly conservative Christian state, the Satanic Temple in New York has formally applied with the Oklahoma Capitol's grounds committee to build a statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed depiction of Satan, in the state's capitol building.
The group's application for a statue of Satan in the Oklahoma Capitol is largely symbolic, as the state has placed a moratorium on any new structures pending the outcome of an ACLU lawsuit regarding a "Ten Commandments" monument that was placed on capitol grounds in 2012. It is that monument which prompted the Satanic Temple to offer to donate the Baphomet sculpture.
Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves, whose real name is the much less Satanic-sounding Doug Mesner, says the group envisioned the statue as "a 'poison pill' in the church/state debate. The idea was that Satanists, asserting their rights and privileges where religious agendas have been successful in imposing themselves upon public affairs, could serve as a poignant reminder that such privileges are for everybody."
It's probably a good idea that they aren't really expecting the idea of a 7-foot goat-headed monster to fly in Oklahoma. After all, the proposed monument looks like something from some horrifying nightmare. Placing children at Baphomet's lap doesn't serve to make the statue seem more benevolent -- only more terrifying. There is an awkward half-smile on one of the children's faces, which seems to scream out "Stranger-danger!" And let's face it. If your kids scream their heads off when visiting Santa at the mall or Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, just imagine what this statue would do to their psyche.
In its proposal, though, the group says, "The statue will serve as a beacon calling for compassion and empathy among all living creatures. 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."
Hell, in my opinion, the only thing scarier than sitting on that thing's lap would be sitting on the lap of Pennywise the Clown from "It." That razor-toothed maniac still haunts me every now and then.
Regardless, the Satanic Temple and the ACLU are not the only groups to challenge Oklahoma's decision to place a monument of the Ten Commandments at the Capitol. "Pastafarians" with the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have also proposed a statue as have leaders and ministers from recognized non-Christian religions.
While Baphomet and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are unlikely to get a showing at Oklahoma's state capitol building, those proposing the statues have a point. The United States was founded on the ideas of equality and religious freedom. By placing a Ten Commandments monument on the capitol lawn, Oklahoma has created an apparent endorsement of one religious belief over all others. Frankly, that can't fly under our Constitution. If an explicit endorsement was not the intent of the Christian monument, then Oklahoma has constructed a forum under which all other belief systems should have a voice. If others are not allowed equal space, then it poorly reflects on the hypocrisy of the legislature.
While the leaders of the Satanist Temple say that they believe the ACLU would support their statue, the civil liberties group says that its lawsuit is not based on allowing all religions to have a voice on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol, but rather separating church and state when it comes to religious displays on government property. Brady Henderson, legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma says, "Our position is we'd like to see the government get out of the religious monument business altogether. . . . [M]ore religious display doesn't solve the fundamental problem that the government is wading into the religious realm."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the truth of the matter. Oklahoma, and every other state in our great Nation, should realize that the "great melting pot" is really, and always should be, more akin to a "cultural mosaic."
Diversity of belief is what makes our country great, and no monument, be it goat, tablet, or Flying Spaghetti Monster, should be shoved down anyone's throat at a place where the primary purpose is government, as opposed to worship.
Regardless of the outcome of the ACLU lawsuit, it is impossible to fathom that Oklahoma will ever approve the Satanic Temple's request. Oklahoma is just as likely to erect a statue of Satan on capitol grounds as it is to approve recreational marijuana -- when hell freezes over.