OKLAHOMA CITY — A representative for a Satanist organization that is seeking to place a ‘homage to Satan’ near a Ten Commandments monument on the premises of the Oklahoma capitol building says that the group’s design may include an ‘interactive display for children.’
As previously reported, the Satanic Temple issued a news release about the matter last week, outlining that the placement of the display may resolve the dispute over the monument, which is currently the subject of a federal lawsuit.
“[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 2009 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…”
To solve the dispute, the New York-based Satanic Temple offered to to donate a public monument to be placed near the Ten Commandments display in order to “appease the ACLU’s concerns.”
“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 in a news release about the monument. “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.
On Tuesday, Greaves reiterated his intent for erecting the proposed “homage to Satan.”
“I feel that the statue is only problematic when it stands alone,” he told ABC News. “It would change the dynamic with our monument there. We aren’t objecting to the Ten Commandments monument, we’re objecting to the monument standing alone.”
When asked about what the Satanic display might look like, he told reporters that he didn’t want to “reveal too much about the possible design options,” but stated that his “favorite design, at the moment, is an interactive display for children.”
As previously reported, the Universalist Society of Hinduism is also seeking to place a statue of the monkey king Hanuman near the Ten Commandments monument.