Illustration by Jeremy Luther.

The Roundup

Satanic Monument Proposed for Oklahoma Capitol Grounds

• By

Posted 12.09.13

The New York City-based Satanic Temple is proposing a monument for the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds—to be positioned right next to the Ten Commandments monument erected last year.

The Satanic Temple made its proposal to the state’s Capitol Preservation Commission, then announced it publicly via press release. In the release, Lucien Greaves, the temple’s spokesman, said:

“[B]y 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. 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.”

The release described the proposed monument as an “homage to the historic/literary Satan” and said its purpose is “to complement and contrast the Ten Commandments monument that already resides on the North side of the building.”

The temple is still awaiting the commission’s response.

Addicting Info contends the state must accept the temple’s donation, estimated at $20,000. “Okla., thanks to its argument for religious monuments on public display, now must accept the Satanic Temple and their memorial,” the site reported. “The law allows them to put it right next to the 10 Commandments, if they so desire. Next week, who knows, perhaps the Satanic Temple will get the opportunity to name a new public school. It’s not like the state would be hypocrites who would only accept their own narrow religious views in direct violation of the US Constitution after all.”

The Associated Press reported on a couple of proposed possibilities for the monument: One deign involves a pentagram, while “another is meant to be an interactive display for children.”

More from the AP’s report:

Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, who spearheaded the push for the Ten Commandments monument and whose family helped pay the $10,000 for its construction, declined to comment on the Satanic Temple’s effort, but Greaves credited Ritze for opening the door to the group’s proposal.

“He’s helping a satanic agenda grow more than any of us possibly could,” Greaves said. “You don’t walk around and see too many satanic temples around, but when you open the door to public spaces for us, that’s when you’re going to see us.”

Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, who recently announced plans to propose a bill that would prevent litigation against teachers who say “Merry Christmas” in schools, told the AP “many Christians feel they are under attack as a result of political correctness” and dismissed the Temple’s proposal. “I think these Satanists are a different group,” he said. “You put them under the nut category.”

Greaves told a blogger at Patheos that this is the first monument the temple has proposed and that the organization has “many active members” in Oklahoma. “Ours is a religiously pluralistic nation, and we asserted that we are prepared to take full advantage of our religious liberties on behalf of an often ignored and marginalized demographic,” Greaves told Patheos. “We’ll let the courts decide whether or not a strong Separation of Church and State is preserved. We are happy to indulge in whatever liberties are granted to religious organizations.”

According to its press release, The Satanic Temple’s mission is “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.” However, its founder, Doug Mesner, admitted to VICE magazine that it’s also a satirical group.

UPDATE: Universal Society of Hinduism just released a statement revealing plans to seek permission from the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission to place a statue of Lord Hanuman on the Capitol grounds. Lord Hanuman, a monkey god and the most popular of the Hindu idols, represents strength, perseverance, and devotion.

From the press release:

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, said that if the Oklahoma State Capitol was open to different monuments, we would love to have a statue of Lord Hanuman, who was greatly revered and worshipped and known for incredible strength and was perfect grammarian.

Zed pointed out that besides honoring the Hindus living in Oklahoma, this statue would raise awareness of Oklahomans about Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought.

Rajan Zed stated that he had written to Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission Chair Trait Thompson and others for detailed procedure, required forms, conditions to be met for approval, size and dimensions of the statue, etc., for permission to erect the Lord Hanuman statue, which they planned to make big and weather-proof. …

There are about three million Hindus living in USA and ultimate goal of Hinduism is moksh (liberation).

Hat tip to Lee Roy Chapman for bringing this update to our attention.