Since 2012, a statue of the Ten Commandments has graced the lawn outside the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City. Now, it’s time for Satan to take his place, there too.
A group from New York called the Satanic Temple has raised more than $28,000 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to commission a bronze statue of Lucifer, the design of which has recently been released to the public. While many of the project’s backers are Satanists — as in, they worship Satan — the piece is actually intended to make a broader point: That a statue of the Ten Commandments on public property seems to violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which separates church and state. (This view is also held by the ACLU, which is challenging the Oklahoma government’s right to display the Ten Commandments.)
Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple, told ABC News that the Satanic piece of art — complete with pentagram and goat head — will “celebrate our progress as a pluralistic nation founded on secular law.”
In truth, the line separating the majority religion of the United States and the government has long been blurred. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court found that the town of Greece, New York could open its town meetings with prayers from guest preachers — the vast majority of whom were Christian, and often directly invoked Jesus Christ.
That’s precisely why this is such a brilliant idea, perhaps even moreso than your standard-issue civil liberties lawsuit. A statue of Satan displayed on public property would no doubt offend Christians. But in a country without a state religion, that shouldn’t matter, and Greaves and his ilk are right to point that out.
If Oklahoma’s Capitol Preservation Committee – which issues permits for statues on the Capitol ground – feels that a statue of the Ten Commandments on public grounds is compatible with a Constitution that protects the rights of all Americans, then the group shouldn’t have any issue with a statue of Satan, either. But if, as I suspect, the horned deity gives Oklahoma officials the heebie-jeebees, they should think about how their current statue looks to Satanists. Or, for that matter, to Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, or Christians who see the separation of church and state as a deeply important tenet of American democracy.