The Satanic Temple has applied to mount a statue in Arkansas of Baphomet, a goat-headed deity often used to represent Satan.
The move comes in response to a recent bill which allows for a privately donated monument of the Ten Commandments to be placed at the Arkansas Capitol in Little Rock.
A September 8 press release from the Satanic Temple, which is based in New York, explains:
In a letter sent via certified mail to Arkansas’ Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission, The Satanic Temple (TST) formally requested permission to place their controversial “Baphomet” monument alongside a 10 Commandments monument at the Capitol in Little Rock. The request comes in reply to the approval of AR Senate Bill 939 which has allowed for a privately donated 10 Commandments monument to be placed at the Capitol. The bill hopes to preemptively head-off an Establishment Clause dispute by asserting the secular nature of the 10 Commandments, stating that the monument represents “an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and the State of Arkansas.”
TST argues that if the State has opened the public grounds to private donations, they cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination and must reasonably allow for other donations of a similar nature. In their letter to the Arts and Grounds Commission, TST co-founder Malcolm Jarry states, “We have reviewed SB939, which authorized the placement of a 10 Commandments monument at the Arkansas State Capitol, and the Baphomet statue we would like to contribute shall fulfill the same intended purposes.” The letter goes on to explain that TST’s monument is a memorial to the various historical witch hunts, and homage to the persecuted free-thinkers and “heretics” who helped inform American secular jurisprudence. To that end, an inscription on the monument shall read, “Be it known to all that this statue commemorates the history of law in the United States of America. From the deplorable Satanic Witch Hunts, the cherished doctrines of due process, presumption of innocence and the protection of minorities from the tyranny of mob rule became part of the established foundation of American jurisprudence."
Last month the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple unveiled a statue of Baphomet in that city. The Satanic Temple has also protests pro-life laws, claiming the laws violate their religious beliefs.
The group says it is prepared to pursue legal options if their Little Rock application is rejected or ignored.