If Christians can build statues, so can Satanists

While the Founding Fathers mostly saw religion as positive for society, they also believed that government should not play favorites among the faiths.

Just what every town needs: a 7-foot satanic statue.powers-kirsten-200px_x200

Believe it or not, Oklahoma received a proposal last week from the New York-based Satanic Temple for just such a figure to be placed near the state Capitol. The monument depicts Baphomet, a goat-headed pagan idol, sitting on a throne inscribed with an inverted pentagram.

According to a spokesman for the temple, “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.”

The homage to the Prince of Darkness comes in response to the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol in 2012. Beelzebub’s boosters argue that if the government can place an overtly Judeo-Christian monument on its property, then to avoid running afoul of the Constitution, it must accept monuments from other faiths.

The Satanists might have a point.

Steven Waldman, author of “Founding Faith: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious Liberty,” told me, “This (satanic statue) is the inevitable outcome of what religious conservatives set in motion” with their efforts to bring more religion into the public square.

He added, “As James Madison said, even government efforts to help religion will backfire and hurt religion.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing in the Oklahoma state courts to have the Ten Commandments statue removed, makes a similar argument.

Brady Henderson of the Oklahoma ACLU points to Florida as a cautionary tale. The placement of a Nativity scene on the state Capitol grounds led to a free-for-all.

He told me: “To get around the First Amendment problems, they had to let other groups in. So, next to the creche was a Festivus pole and Flying Spaghetti Monster. We don’t want our state to become (like that). Here is something with thousands of years of tradition next to a joke from Seinfeld, and the government is presenting them as equals. That cheapens a lot of people’s faith. The only one who is happy is the one who wants to make a mockery of religion.”

True enough. After word spread of the Satanists’ goat-headed gambit, the Oklahoma government received an inquiry from the “Pastafarians,” who worship at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Even if the Oklahoma court determines that placement of the Ten Commandments on public property is legal, that wouldn’t make it wise.

While the Founding Fathers mostly saw religion as positive for society, they also believed that government should not play favorites among the faiths. The ACLU complains that, in addition to endorsing the Christian faith, the Oklahoma government has chosen to use “an English translation of the Ten Commandments inconsistent with those officially adopted by the Catholic Church and within Orthodox Judaism, generally conforming more closely to particular Protestant interpretations of the text.”

It seems that if Oklahoma Christians want to imbue society with their values, there are better ways to do it that respect the pluralistic nature of our society. Perhaps they should just focus on living out the Ten Commandments and ditch the monuments.

Kirsten Powers writes weekly for USA Today and is a Fox News political analyst.

  • WmarkW

    There’s some question whether Lucien Grieves (pseud) is sincere about his commitment to Satanism, or if he’s mostly making a point via sarcasm.

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/7487/is_the_satanist_behind_10_commandments_challenge_sincere/

    • Paul Frantizek

      My guess is that it’s just some Real Life Trolling by the Atheists/Anti-Christians.

  • RoycePashtun

    The founding fathers would not approve of someone outside the community coming in and foisting a statue upon the community which the community finds repugnant to its shared values.

    • kynglyon

      The “community” is way too diverse to use as a general term these days. To many people, the 10 Commandments are repugnant. What non-christian likes to be reminded of the christian belief that non-christians go to a lake of fire? Generally speaking, the christian political line is nauseating to many. They often take a hard line on important issues. Often, christians are equated to the “religious right.” At least the evils of Satanism are right in your face, while the many evils of christianity hide in the shadows. If this country becomes a dictatorship, I won’t complain about religious statues. I’ll just move to Canada. As long as we’re a democracy, I’ll speak out against false religions like christianity.

      • Paul Frantizek

        Why is ‘community’ an improper term for general use?

        If there’s a municipality where Satanists are able to elect a Mayor and City Council sympathetic to their cause, by all means, let them erect statues. But going to court and suing to force a municipality which is predominately Christian to erect a Satan statue out of some perverted sense of ‘inclusion’ or ‘diversity’ is weak sauce.

        America was founded on the idea of community values. If you don’t like the values of the community you’re part of, go found your own. Of course the Satanists object to that since they’re incapable of being anything more than a fringe element in a greater Christian community…

        Pity poor them.

        • kynglyon

          I’ve been to Oklahoma. Just because there might be a Bible in the house somewhere doesn’t make you a Christian. When a large majority of TRUE CHRISTIANS live in Oklahoma, they wouldn’t need to erect a statue. Unless these Oklahoman Christians display these 4 attitudes and 5 behaviors, they are not actually Christian. Therefore, I just think it’s narcissistic.

          Spiritually Committed Attitudes
          1) My faith is involved in every aspect of my life.
          2) Because of my faith, I have meaning and purpose in my life.
          3) My faith gives me an inner peace.
          4) I am a person who is spiritually committed.

          Spiritually Committed Behaviors
          1) spend time in worship or prayer every day.
          2) Because of my faith, I have forgiven people who have hurt me deeply.
          3) My faith has called me to develop my given strengths.
          4) I will take unpopular stands to defend my faith.
          5) I speak words of kindness to those in need of encouragement.

          You may disagree, and that’s perfectly fine with me.

          • Paul Frantizek

            How droll, a definition of ‘Christian’ which doesn’t include belief in the actual divinity of Christ.

            Your prediction of my disagreement was eerily clairvoyant.

          • kynglyon

            If, by divine, you mean the son of an invisible being that ivies somewhere beyond the clouds, then yes. Belief in Christ as a divine god (and not just a supremely amazing and wonderful person that provided a message that is worth following in itself) is dryly amusing to me. Christianity is based on the New Testament. Jesus made reference to the Old Testament, but he never said to follow those old ways. I think the best way to follow Christianity is to abide by the Sermon on the Mount. That’s it. I know that my opinion won’t fly with many people at all, and why should it? I’m a Buddhist after all.

          • Paul Frantizek

            So you’re lecturing Christians on the meaning of their beliefs from the perspective of someone who dismisses Christ as ‘the son of an invisible being that lives somewhere beyond the clouds’?

            All righty then…

          • kynglyon

            Yes I am. I was raised Christian. I went to a religious prep school. I’ve been to rallies for Jesus. I’m quite knowledgeable of the Bible, prayed vigorously and was a good Christian. I have aways been known as a spiritual person, and something inside me wasn’t being fulfilled by Christianity. I still love Jesus because Christianity wasn’t his creation. It was the creation of men and history speaks for itself (no need for a history lesson). Paul, if you want to be bitter that’s up to you. Your responses were both two sentences long. If you’d like to explain to me why my opinion is wrong with logic, I’d appreciate it?Otherwise, all we’ve done here is established that I am not a Christian and that you don’t agree with me.

          • Paul Frantizek

            My first response was longer than two sentences. Other than that, I’m not looking to discuss this at length with you, I simply wanted to rebut your assertion that ‘True Christianity’ consisted of the 4 attitudes and 5 behaviors you listed.

            Coming from someone who rejects the faith, I find such an assertion extremely presumptuous.

          • kynglyon

            Okay. We can agree to disagree. I would like you to try something. In a forum like this, find an article on a topic that you have interest in, knowledge of, and a well thought out opinion about. Then don’t write anything because you don’t share the same beliefs of the author. All of your heartfelt feelings on that topic might appear presumptuous to someone.

          • Paul Frantizek

            I would like you to try something. When you offer an opinion that is gratuitously presumptuous – like telling Christians what their religion means when you your self reject it- don’t get so bent out of shape when someone calls you on it.

            It makes you seem very thin-skinned.

          • kynglyon

            Am I being gratuitously presumptuous now? You’re a sitzpinkler.

  • Surprise123

    There is good reason to believe that these “Satanists” are not authentic, and are, in actuality, atheists intent on disingenuously taking on the mantle of “Satanism” in order to stick it to Christians who want to display artifacts of their identity in the public sphere.
    I have no problem with ANYONE displaying artifacts of their identity that have profound meaning to them on public property, as long as those artifacts are authentic, don’t insultingly target other in-groups, and the assignation of display space is done in a transparent and neutral fashion. In fact, I think it’s a very good thing that Americans are able to feel that their government and the public sphere is not alien or even hostile to beliefs that make up their identity.
    In the case of the Oklahoma permanent monument of the 10 commandments, THAT obviously was not an assignation of display space done in a transparent and neutral fashion. And, therefore, it should be removed altogether.
    But, what these so-called Atheist – “Satanists” have done is reprehensible: instead of insisting on their own permanent monument to values they affirm, perhaps a stone sculpture inscribed with the no-establishment of religion clause in the U.S. Constitution, they disingenuously claimed to worship a deity they do not believe in, and they applied to set up a permanent figure most repellant to many citizens in the area.
    Moreover, their actions threaten retribution against actual “Satanists” – people who authentically believe in Satan, and authentically practice Satanism.
    In a way, these particular Atheist – “Satanists” are worse than the Westboro Baptist Church, whose outrageous protests endanger only themselves: the actions of these Atheist – “Satanists” endanger others.

    • kynglyon

      Yes, the Satanists are being sarcastic. Do you wonder why they are taking that approach? I’m guessing it’s because the massive amount of hypocrisy associated with Christianity right from the beginning. The faux Satanists are absolutely correct in their action, although I’d rather see a Pastafarian statue instead of a mean, Satanic goat. In reality, most “Christians” I’ve encountered have very little knowledge of the Bible and other Christian texts. They are loosely associated to Christianity, at best. They’re Christians for the same reason I am a New York Knicks fan. They were born into it. Forced to go to religious services and participate in religious education by their families, children never really get a choice of what to believe. Just like my father sitting me in front of the television to watch the Knicks game after game, I was inundated with visions of Patrick Ewing dunking the basketball. Unfortunately, my heavily fostered love for the Knicks never earned them a world championship. This example highlights the similarity of people being forced to believe in a false religion, like Christianity. In case you haven’t noticed, Christians have murdered more than any other world religion. Maybe some people skipped that day in history class, but Christian imperialism has been going on for almost a thousand years. If they didn’t kill the natives, they forced them into Christianity. I think “convert or die” was the manifesto. My rant is finished. So, now I ask a question and hope you can think outside of the box. What is more reprehensible; arrogant Christians raising a statue to gloat in their all mighty killing power, or sarcastic Satanists mocking the arrogant Christians for their assumption of grandiose power?

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