A religious group believes it has an idea that could “complement and contrast” the Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma state Capitol grounds: a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan, depicted as a Baphomet - a goat-headed figure with wings and horns - sitting on a throne with smiling children at its side.
On Monday, the New York-based religious group Satanic Temple submitted its application for the monument to the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission, which oversees the Capitol grounds in Oklahoma City.
Satanic Temple argues that if the Legislature could authorize the Ten Commandments monument, then a statue of Satan should also be approved. The monument would be an “homage” to Satan and a symbol of religious freedom, Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said.
“More than anything, we feel our monument is meant to be a historical marker celebrating the scapegoats, marginalized and demonized minority,” he said.
In August, the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state to remove the Ten Commandments monument because “the state needs to get out of the business of endorsing religion,” said Brady Henderson, legal director of the chapter. The stone monument, which features a bald eagle and an American flag, was erected in 2012.
Last month, the preservation commission put a moratorium on deciding on any new monument requests, said Trait Thompson, commission chairman.
“We just didn’t feel it prudent at this juncture to be considering other monuments ... when the Ten Commandments monument is under review by the state Supreme Court,” he said.
Although the ACLU is opposed to all religious monuments on public property, Henderson said, the organization believes the Satanic Temple’s proposed monument has “every right to be there” if the Ten Commandments monument remains. “For us ... it’s about respecting the idea that government shouldn’t endorse religion in the first place,” he said. “But if that’s unavoidable, it needs to at least be neutral.”
Many Oklahomans, including some lawmakers, strongly oppose the idea of a monument to Satan.
“Displays at the Capitol are intended to represent the values of the people of Oklahoma and memorialize those who have worked to build and preserve our freedoms,” Joe Griffin, communications director for the Oklahoma speaker of the House, said in an e-mail. “This proposed monument does not meet those standards and, in this office’s opinion, is not appropriate at the Capitol.”