OKLAHOMA CITY — A New York-based Satanist organization has offered to erect a public ‘homage to Satan’ near a Ten Commandments monument on the premises of the Oklahoma capitol building.
The Satanic Temple issued a news release about the matter this week, outlining that they believe that it may resolve the dispute over the monument, which is currently the subject of a federal lawsuit.
As previously reported, the monument at issue was proposed and paid for in 2009 by Republican Representative Mike Ritze, and was soon after approved by the largely Republican-run state legislature.
“[T]he Ten Commandments are an important component of the foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Oklahoma,” the bill authorizing the monument acknowledged. “[T]he courts of the United States of America and of various states frequently cite the Ten Commandments in published decisions, and acknowledgements of the role played by the Ten Commandments in our nation’s heritage are common throughout America.”
The six-foot display was erected last year, but the ACLU said that the monument was unconstitutional.
“The monument’s placement at the Capitol has created a more divisive and hostile state for many Oklahomans,” stated Ryan Kiesel, the executive director of ACLU of Oklahoma, in a news release. “When the government literally puts one faith on a pedestal, it sends a strong message to Oklahomans of other faiths that they are less than equal.”
This past August, the organization filed suit against the monument, with the lead plaintiff being minister Bruce Prescott, the director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists. Prescott said that mixing the sacred with the secular in such a manner cheapens the display, and asserted that it violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
“I am not opposed to monuments of the Ten Commandments that are placed on private property and/or on the grounds of religious institutions,” he wrote to the ACLU. “I am opposed to erecting Ten Commandments monuments on public property and particularly on the grounds of the state Capitol where people of different faiths and of no faith go to exercise their rights as citizens.”
Now, the New-York based Satanic Temple says that it has offered to to donate a public monument to be placed near the Ten Commandments display in order to “appease the ACLU’s concerns.” It says that if Oklahoma’s Capitol Preservation Commission grants the request, they will then seek public input for the text and design on the proposed “homage to Satan.”
“By accepting our offer, the good people of Oklahoma City will have the opportunity to show that they espouse the basic freedoms spelled out in the Constitution. We imagine that the ACLU would also embrace such a response,” stated spokesperson Lucien Greaves. “Allowing us to donate a monument would show that the Oklahoma City Council does not discriminate, and both the religious and non-religious should be happy with such an outcome. Our mission is to bring people together by finding common sentiments that create solutions that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.”
However, as previously reported, the Liberty Institute, a Christian legal organization in Plano, Texas, is working alongside Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to defend the Ten Commandments display as being lawful—all by itself.
“The ACLU and others have made it their mission to eliminate any trace of religion from public view,” the organization remarked. “Legislative prayer, city-sponsored senior wellness centers, … sacred veterans memorials–nothing and no one is safe from their attacks. However, Liberty Institute is fighting back.”