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A pentagram? An interactive display for children? Satanists revel in Okla.-linked publicity

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Last Wednesday, when Red Dirt Report brought the story of the New York-based Satanic Temple wanting to erect a monument honoring the Dark Lord on the grounds of the State Capitol, we wondered what sort of reaction it would generate.

Since then, the Associated Press, The Guardian (UK) and countless blogs and news websites have reported on this story that we helped break, following The Friendly Atheist’s Hemant Mehta’s interview with The Satanic Temple’s spokesman Lucien Greaves.

Of course the Satanists argue that the Ten Commandments monument installed on the State Capitol grounds gives them an opening to have their own monument placed on the publicly-owned property as well.

So, on Nov. 21, 2013, The Satanic Temple sent a certified letter to the Capitol Preservation Commission, seeking permission to fund the placement of a Satanic monument next to the Ten Commandments.

Greaves has stated that potential designs include a pentagram or an “interactive display for children.” Greaves estimates it could cost his religious group approximately $20,000.

But don’t expect the Republican Christian majority legislating at 23rd and Lincoln to take this issue lying down. In fact, today we even saw an online story claiming the Satanic Temple’s request and the ongoing performances of the gay-themed, Biblical play, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, are the reasons why central Oklahoma suffered a 4.6-magnitude earthquake on Saturday.

Cleveland County-based legislator Bobby Cleveland, a Republican, told the AP that as a Christian, he feels it is ok to introduce legislation allowing Christmas nativity scenes in public schools but that these meddling Satanists are “a different group,” one you would toss into the “nut category.”

And while House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) strives to build a Christian chapel in the State Capitol building (as the Capitol literally falls in on itself due to neglect), the Satanists from far-off New York say that State Rep. Mike Ritze’s Ten Commandments display is “helping a satanic agenda grow more than any of us possibly could.”

Red Dirt Report thought it would be appropriate to talk to the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union about the Satanic Temple case. We ultimately received a statement from ACLU-OK’s Brady Henderson:

“While the Satanic Temple's proposed monument may provide a religious counterpoint to the message of the Ten Commandments, neither truly belongs at the State Capitol. We would like to see our state government get out of the business of religious displays altogether, and leave choices about faith up to the people themselves. The chief problem of the Ten Commandments display is that it tells the citizens of Oklahoma what the government thinks they should believe. The Satanic Temple's proposal cannot really solve that problem merely by offering yet another religious statement. The people of Oklahoma need to be free to use our public buildings, and especially our State Capitol, without being told who or what they should worship or believe in when they get home," Henderson wrote.

Continuing, Henderson said:: “We would prefer to see Oklahoma's government officials work to faithfully serve our communities and improve the lives of Oklahomans instead of erecting granite monuments to show us all how righteous they are. But if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple's proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint. 

“While our goal is a State Capitol complex that does not feature an official government God or an official government devil, we also urge the State to respect the Satanic Temple's constitutional rights. If it is truly the Capitol Preservation Commission's desire to create a public forum for both religious and secular displays on the Capitol lawn, then the Commission cannot deny the Temple's application even though its statement about faith may run counter to the beliefs of many Oklahomans. Legally our state government faces a simple choice: Remove the Ten Commandments Monument or allow religious monuments of every faith and creed to receive the same government endorsement. We believe only the first choice truly respects the religious freedom of Oklahomans and complies with our State Constitution," concluded Henderson.

 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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