The suspect has been identified as Michael Tate Reed Jr., 29. He is from Roland and was taken to Oklahoma County mental facility for an emergency order of detention and a mental evaluation.
The suspect said Satan told him to do it, Secret Service officials said. He also reportedly said he would kill President Obama and spit on a photo of Obama. The suspect also allegedly admitted that he urinated on the Ten Commandments monument before running it over.
I’m (selfishly) grateful that it wasn’t an atheist hell-bent on getting some weird sort of revenge, though in the eyes of the ignorant public, someone who believes in Satan is pretty much the same as an atheist, anyway…
There’s also reason to believe he’s not a Satanist at all, but a churchgoer. Take this with a huge grain of salt, but one of the commenters at News9.com claims to know him well and says:
He’s not [a Satanist]. There has been a lot more things going on than what this story tells… Until anyone knows him personally like my family and I do then anything can be said and misinterpreted. He was very active in his church. Just because a reporter, who is basically taking what someone else said about him, puts it in a story….doesn’t mean he is. Until you can speak to him, live in his shoes, and see and know what his family and friends do… You wouldn’t call him a satanist.
Reed’s own mother echoed those comments, saying he “loves his God” and “takes the Ten Commandments very seriously.”
In any case, there are clearly more serious issues at play here and I hope Reed gets the help he needs.
It’s not like we were going to be able to avoid the “we’re oppressed” claims from a certain group of Christians, anyway. To quote something posted on JT Eberhart‘s site:
If [the suspect’s an] Atheist then it’s an attack on Christianity. If he’s Satanist then it’s an attack on Christianity. If he’s Christian then he’s not a “real Christian”. There’s no way this would be spun where it wouldn’t feed into the persecution complex.
That’s why the best thing we can do right now — maybe the only thing — is denounce this action unequivocally.
The Satanic Temple — still fighting to get their own statue on the Capitol grounds — did just that yesterday, issuing a statement decrying the vandalism, distancing themselves from Reed, and declaring that their own fight would only continue if the Ten Commandments monument went back up:
… As of this writing all that seems to be known of the culprit, now in custody, is that he is bi-polar, claims to have been motivated by voices in his head, and he allegedly identifies himself as a Satanist. Expressing concern for the individual’s apparent mental illness, TST spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, also wasted no time in assuring the public that such rogue, destructive actions enjoy no support whatsoever from the Temple.
Greaves states, “The Satanic Temple was appalled to learn of the act of destructive vandalism laid upon the 10 Commandments monument in Oklahoma today. As many are aware, we are seeking to have a Satanic monument erected alongside the 10 Commandments — and only alongside the 10 Commandments. We do not want our monument to stand alone. If our monument stands at the state Capitol, we want it to compliment and contrast the 10 Commandments, with both standing unmolested as a testament to American religious freedom and tolerance. We hope that by respecting religious liberty in allowing our monument to be displayed, Oklahoma will help ameliorate any animosity between differing perspectives, not cultivate them.”
“Ever since we began construction on our statue of Baphomet, we have received many angry letters from self-identified Christians who have sworn to destroy our monument immediately following its erection. We have also received no small amount of letters of support from self-identified Christians who approve of our efforts to assert our American Constitutional values of religious liberty. Zealots, acting under the label of any religion, are zealots just the same, and we hope everyone realizes how crass and deplorable even the suggestion of actions, such as that witnessed today, are. Reports currently maintain that the culprit was acting at the behest of voices in his head, and his actions seem to be a product of personal disturbance. Vandalism finds no support within the Satanic community.”
“To be clear, The Satanic Temple will not seek to erect its monument unless the 10 Commandments is restored. Oklahoma City has the option to wait until the ACLU’s case regarding the legal status of the 10 Commandments is resolved before it permits its replacement. However, if the 10 Commandments is immediately reconstructed, our monument will be ready for unveiling quite soon.”
Again, none of this will stop politicians and Christian conservatives from playing the victim card, but it shouldn’t stop us from taking the moral high ground.