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Innovation of the week: A monument to veterans — and Satan

This artist's rendering provided by The Satanic Temple on Saturday, May 6, 2017 shows a monument the organization is planning to erect at a veterans' memorial park in Belle Plaine, Minn. The city, about 45 miles southwest of Minneapolis, is allowing the monument, which features inverted pentagrams, a soldier's helmet and a plaque honoring veterans who died in battle, after the Freedom from Religion Foundation threatened to sue over another statue that features a soldier praying over a grave marked with a cross. (Chris P. Andres/The Satanic Temple via AP)

Chris P. Andres/The Satanic Temple via AP

An artist’s rendering provided by the Satanic Temple shows a monument the organization is planning to erect at a veterans’ memorial park in Belle Plaine, Minn.

What is it? A monument to veterans — and Satan

Innovator: The Salem-based Satanic Temple

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What were they thinking? When a metal silhouette of a soldier kneeling before a cross appeared in Veterans Memorial Park in the tiny city of Belle Plaine, Minn., last summer, it quickly raised concern about a violation of the principle of separation of church and state. Officials couldn’t bear to part with the monument, though, so they fashioned a compromise: Belle Plaine would keep the silhouette and establish a “public forum” in the park for others wishing to honor the city’s veterans. The Satanic Temple sensed an opening. The group proposed a monument of its own: a black cube adorned with upside-down pentagrams and an overturned military helmet.

Did it work? The temple — which actually pledges fealty to scientific reason, not the dark lord Beelzebub — recently announced it has received permission to erect the cube. Belle Plaine officials “didn’t offer any resistance, to their credit,” said temple spokesman Lucien Greaves, in an interview with The Washington Post. This would be the group’s first monument on public land but not its first foray into public affairs around the country. Last year, in response to after-school programming from evangelical Christians, the temple launched a devilishly cheeky club called “After School Satan.”

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