OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A man who smashed a controversial Ten Commandments monument this week and urinated on the display explained to investigators on Friday that Satan told him to do it.
Michael Reed, Jr., 29, drove his car into the monument, located near the state capitol building late Thursday, and then walked into the federal building Friday morning and began making threats to kill Barack Obama. He also advised officials that he had drove his car into the Ten Commandments display the night before.
When questioned by the Secret Service about the incident, Reed reportedly told them that the devil had instructed him to do it. He was taken to a mental facility where he underwent an evaluation and was placed in mental detention. Reed has had mental issues in the past, but has been off his medication.
He had abandoned his vehicle next to the display after running it down.
The monument at issue had been in headlines for a number of months after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a liberal Baptist minister filed a lawsuit to have the display removed.
“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.”
A New York-based Satanist group then proposed to place an “homage to Satan” near the monument, and other groups soon presented their requests as well, but the Capitol Preservation Commission placed a moratorium on any proposals until the lawsuit was decided.
“The statue will serve as a beacon calling for compassion and empathy among all living creatures,” Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves explained in his application to the Commission. “The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”
In January, it it unveiled the design for the display, releasing a drawing of the goat-headed figure Baphomet sitting on a throne with a pentagram overhead and the inscription “The spirit of compassion, wisdom and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.”
However, last month, a district judge found the display constitutional, concluding that the monument served a historical purpose and not solely the presentment of a religious message as it sits on a plot of land that contains 51 other expressive monuments.
On Friday, the ACLU, which had challenged the presence of the monument, condemned its destruction, but said that it would continue to seek its removal.
“The ACLU of Oklahoma and our clients are outraged at this apparent act of vandalism,” it stated. “Our Oklahoma and federal Constitutions seek to create a society in which people of all faiths and those of no faith at all can coexist as equals without fear of repressions from the government or their neighbors. Whether it is politicians using religion as a political tool or vandals desecrating religious symbols, neither are living up to the full promise of our founding documents.”
The monument is expected to be repaired and restored to its position.