The Ten Commandments monument outside the Arkansas State Capitol is better known for the controversy it generates than anything God supposedly told Moses, and that’s not changing anytime soon. On August 16th, a statue of Baphomet is rolling into town, courtesy of The Satanic Temple.
It was only a couple of weeks ago when the Satanists filed a motion to get involved in the legal battle to take the monument down. Because there were two lawsuits — one from a group of atheists and the other from the ACLU of Arkansas — the Satanists filed as intervenors. That is, they were asking the courts to let them join in the litigation because they would directly be affected by how a judge rules on this matter.
Not everyone is happy about it. Secretary of State Mark Martin filed an objection to the motion saying that the Satanists don’t meet the requirements for intervention and claimed their “conduct is beneath the dignity of this court.” (The same could be said about State Sen. Jason Rapert, who put up the blatantly unconstitutional monument to promote Christianity.)
The ACLU’s plaintiffs also objected, saying that the Satanists’ claims were “different, broader and bear only tangential relation” to their own. That’s partly true. Both sets of plaintiffs want the Christian monument to come down. The Satanists don’t mind if it stays up, as long as their own monument also gets erected.
The courts will work all that out. (Even if the attempt to become intervenors fails, the lawsuits against the Ten Commandments display still seem like a slam dunk on the side of church/state separation.)
But in the meantime, the Satanists aren’t holding back. They just announced that they will hold a rally on August 16th and they’ll be bringing a special friend:
The Satanic Temple’s infamous Baphomet statue will make an appearance at the Arkansas state Capitol on August 16th from 1-3pm during “The Satanic Temple’s Rally for the First Amendment.” The rally is intended to bring together religious leaders of different faiths to discuss the importance of the First Amendment and its protection for religious pluralism as being essential to preserve democracy.According to The Satanic Temple’s spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, “Freedom of Religion means that the government must not be allowed to endorse one religion over another or inhibit any religious voices from access to public forums in favor of another. By installing a Ten Commandments monument on their capitol grounds while rejecting other privately donated monuments of religious significance, the Arkansas State government has flagrantly violated a founding Constitutional principle, for which we call upon the people to rally with us to defend.”
Greaves explains, “This isn’t a rally of secularists versus people of faith, Satanists versus Christians, or outsiders versus Arkansas. This is a rally for all people who hold sacred the founding Constitutional principles of Religious Freedom and Free Expression that have fallen under assault by irresponsible politicians like Senator Rapert. We welcome people of all backgrounds and religious beliefs to stand with us.”
Rapert hasn’t responded to the planned protest yet, but last night, he posted this image of another way he’s promoting God in public places:
Thanks to these great #ARKANSAS citizens for making sure our schools have National Motto posters displayed in each classroom for the kids. @RepJimDotson @Am_Heritage #InGodWeTrust pic.twitter.com/UjSVCDJ06D
— Sen. Jason Rapert (@jasonrapert) July 31, 2018
There’s just no doubt that his actions are intended to promote Christianity even if he makes up some ostensibly secular excuse. It’ll take a judge to remind him he wasn’t elected to be a pastor.
Still, we can all look forward to the photo-op of Baphomet standing right next to the Christian monument. (The Satanists are raising money to help offset their costs, if you’d like to donate.)
The Satanic Temple didn’t announce a fireworks display during the rally, but I’m guessing we’ll see some anyway.