Satanists erect statue outside Ark. Capitol

by Grace Thornton, posted Friday, August 17, 2018 (6 months ago)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP) -- A group from The Satanic Temple temporarily erected a goat-headed, winged statue on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds on Thursday (Aug. 16) to protest the Ten Commandments monument already placed there.

Dozens attend an Aug. 16 "Rally for the First Amendment," hosted by the Satanic Temple on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock. During the rally, members of the Satanic Temple unveiled a statue of the occult idol Baphomet, which the organization intends to place on the grounds of the Capitol in protest of a 10 Commandments monument that is currently located on the grounds.
Photo by Caleb Yarbrough/Arkansas Baptist News
"If you're going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others, and if you don't agree with that then let's just not have any at all," said Satanic Arkansas cofounder Ivy Forrester, a rally organizer, according to AP.

The 7.5-foot-tall statue of Baphomet, which features the devil in goat form seated and surrounded by smiling children, was removed later that day because of a 2017 state law that requires legislative sponsorship for a monument to be considered.

"The extremist group that has targeted our state again today came and spoke against the [Ten Commandments] monument during our public meetings and sought for a sponsor of a bill to erect their profane statue -- they never had any takers," said Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert, who sponsored the Ten Commandments monument. "The process was open and they failed to convince any of the 135 legislators to sponsor a bill to carry out their idea."

But the group says they will continue to fight for the Ten Commandments to be removed or for equal consideration to be given to all religious groups. About 150 people -- Satanists, atheists and Christians -- gathered for the peaceful rally, with Christians standing nearby holding signs with Bible verses and occasionally singing songs.

LeeWood Thomas, right, co-founder of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, speaks during the Satanic Temple's Rally for the First Amendment Aug. 16 on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock.
Photo by Caleb Yarbrough/Arkansas Baptist News
Oklahoma faced the same type of battle in 2014 when The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Mass., wanted to donate a Baphomet statue for display on the Oklahoma State Capitol's lawn. In 2012, Rep. Mike Ritze similarly donated a Ten Commandments monument that was installed.

But after Michael Tate Reed reportedly drove his car through Oklahoma's monument, the state's Supreme Court ultimately decided in 2015 that the monument could no longer stay there. See related Baptist Press story.

The Satanic group then set its eye on the Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas, according to Lucien Grieves with The Satanic Temple.

In 2017, Reed reportedly destroyed Arkansas' monument in the same way as he did in Oklahoma, less than 24 hours after it was installed. The monument was replaced.

Grace Thornton is a writer in Birmingham, Ala.
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