Satanic Temple followers congregated in large numbers outside the Arkansas State Capitol on Thursday to attend the unveiling of an eight-feet-tall statue of a creature called Baphomet, according to KATV.
Although the striking bronze statue of the goat-faced, winged creature was only allowed on display on the Capitol premises temporarily, it also drew a number of Christian protesters, who said that they hoped to spread the love of God and wouldn’t allow for such a blasphemous statue to be made permanent.
But supporters argued that the Baphomet statue must be allowed a permanent space on the premises under freedom of religion rights outlined in the U.S. Constitution. A Ten Commandments monument already stands on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds which was built after a bill sponsored by Republican senator Jason Rapert was passed last year.
Satanic Arkansas co-founder Ivy Forrester, who was also one of the organizers of the rally outside the Capitol building, called on the separation of church and state. She argued that if Satanists aren’t allowed to erect a permanent Baphomet monument, neither should the Ten Commandments monument be allowed to stand.
“If you’re going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others, and if you don’t agree with that then let’s just not have any at all.”
Worth noting: In 2017, the Satanic Temple sent Arkansas legislators a letter, asking them to sponsor a bill, that would allow for a statue of Baphomet to be placed on capitol grounds. Not one legislator responded Rep. Kim Hammer tells @KATVNews #arnews #arpx #arleg pic.twitter.com/x6tKm0euhl— Marine Glisovic KATV (@KATVMarine) August 16, 2018
Lucien Greaves, the spokesman and co-founder of the Satanic Temple, maintained that the rally on Thursday was done with an eye to make Arkansas a more inclusive place for all religions.
“The event is intended to be an inclusive gathering where The Satanic Temple will be celebrating pluralism along with Christian and secular speakers. People of many faiths will come together at the Capitol to reject the Arkansas State Legislature’s efforts to privilege one religion over others,” Greaves said.
Greaves and his co-followers had been trying to get Arkansas lawmakers to sponsor a bill for the Baphomet statue and had written letters to a number of legislators asking the same soon after the Ten Commandments monument had come up. But not a single lawmaker responded to the request, according to Kim Hammer.
Republican Jason Rapert, who was instrumental in the erection of the Ten Commandments statue, said in a statement that although he respected the religious freedom of the Satanists, there was a special place in hell for such “extremists.”
“It will be a very cold day in hell before an offensive statue will be forced upon us to be permanently erected on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol,” he wrote on Facebook.