It is a scene that would warm the cockles of every Satanic heart. In Oklahoma, the Satanic Temple has unveiled the design for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan that it believes would go nicely at the Oklahoma state Capitol. After all, the legislature put a Ten Commandments monument on the site in 2012. So why not the comforting image of Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard for children to gather around and take strength from on school visits? While it seems a tad unlikely that the Oklahoma legislature (which has a history of intermingling Christian faith with legislation) will add a Satanic element to the Capitol grounds, it forces the question of why it is permissible to depict one religion in exclusion of others.
The design allows legislators and visitors to actually sit on the lap of Baphomet on his pentagram-adorned throne. Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves (I really want to say Satanic spokesperson) heralds this “functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.” One thing is clear, it would a lot more attention than “The Magic of Petroleum” artwork.
The ACLU is suing the legislature over the monument to the Ten Commandments. Other groups including a Hindu group, an animal rights group, and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have also asked for equal time. The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission has responded by declaring a convenient moratorium on any further requests. You can apply but no action will be taken at this time.
As if to add to the ACLU case to show sectarian bias, Oklahoma Rep. Earl Sears has denounced the request as “an insult to the good people of the state.” Notably, Sears objected that “I do not see Satanism as a religion, and they have no place at the state Capitol.” Yet, this is clearly a faith, just not one that Sears likes. Moreover, if he is saying that religions are allowed to build such structures, he would have a hard time challenging the Hindus. Moreover, the mission statement on the Temple website (which is centered in New York) speaks of its religious beliefs:
God is supernatural and thus outside of the sphere of the physical. God’s perfection means that he cannot interact with the imperfect corporeal realm. Because God cannot intervene in the material world, He created Satan to preside over the universe as His proxy. Satan has the compassion and wisdom of an angel. Although Satan is subordinate to God, he is mankind’s only conduit to the dominion beyond the physical. In addition, only Satan can hear our prayers and only Satan can respond. While God is beyond human comprehension, Satan desires to be known and knowable. Only in this way can there be justice and can life have meaning.
The Satanist harbors reasonable agnosticism in all things, holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true. The cultural narratives through which we contextualize our lives must be malleable to conformity with our best scientific understandings of the material world… Those understandings, in turn, must never be so rigidly codified as to themselves be inflexible to advancements yet unknown. Thus, Satanism is an evolving religion, unfettered by arcane doctrines born of fearful minds in darkened times. Belief must reconstruct itself to fact, never the other way round. This is the Luciferian impulse to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, even (and especially) when to do so irretrievably dissipates blissful and comforting delusions of old.
That which will not bend must break, and that which can be destroyed by truth should never be spared its demise.
Clearly, Oklahoma is one of the least likely locations for the Satanic throne. Heck, you cannot even say “Hell” in a speech. Legislators who supported bibles from being passed out were outraged when free Korans were offered. However, what is the standard for inclusion? Sear says that the problem is that Satanists are not religious enough in his view to be featured on state grounds. Yet, they have all of the elements of faith from written tenets to a long history to temples to religious practices. The point is that is you are in the business of mixing faith with politics, it becomes difficult to choose between faiths without establishing officially approved or favored faiths.
Greaves notes that Satanism not only is a faith but (as argued by those who advocate 10 Commandment monuments) a value structure that is relevant to daily function of the legislature to protect rights and oppose laws like blasphemy crimes that deny freedom of religion and speech: “Our monument celebrates an unwavering respect for the Constitutional values of religious freedom and free expression. 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.”
Yet, it seems unlikely that the legislators will approve other changes at this time:
[Baaaa-phomet, the master] comes sweepin’ down the plain,
And the [cravin’] wheat can sure smell sweet, When the wind comes right behind the rain
[Baaaa-phomet], Ev’ry night my [sacrificial] lamb and I, Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin’ lazy [penatgrams] in the sky.
We know we belong to the [Satan] (yo-ho)
And the [Satan] we belong to is grand!
And when we say
We’re only sayin’
You’re doin’ fine, Baphomet!
Ok, it loses a bit in translation. Besides, I am not sure Oklahoma wants to get its Satan from New York City. If there is going to be a display, it should be a more Sooner Satan with a more country coven. When Lucifer says “You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma,” he needs to be able to say “Yeeow! Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay!” without some Brooklyn accent.