Christians in Oklahoma are freaking out over a request by members of the Satanist religion to erect a monument to their religion on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capital next to a 10 Commandments monument. The Christians are upset about the attack on their privilege but it shows another good reason why government property should be free of any religious trappings. You either accept all religions or none of them. The Christians only have themselves to blame for the divisiveness.
The ACLU has a lawsuit to remove the 10 Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma capitol. A New York based group, Satanic Temple, requested a permit to erect their own monument next to the Decalogue. The design released by the group is for a 7 foot tall representation of Baphomet, a bearded, goat-headed, winged hominid with horns seated on a throne beneath a pentagram with two smiling children to either side.
We saw something similar earlier this year when American Atheists settled a lawsuit in Florida by erecting their own monument on the court house lawn. They said they would start funding and building monuments where there currently are 10 Commandment monuments on public property.
I like this form of challenge because it forces Christians to show their true colors and admit they believe other religions should not have the same rights or have symbols on public property like they do. They can’t make an argument about tradition or history like they do when they fight removal of their symbols.
After news broke of the satanists’ proposal, the state was flooded with requests from religious groups seeking to erect monuments to their own faith, including Hindus and Pastafarians, a satirical religion that “worships” the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
A Oklahoma lawmaker told CNN that the satanists’ message wouldn’t fly in the Bible Belt state, where nearly two-thirds of the population are Christian.
“Any monument displayed on state property should reflect the values of Oklahoma or memorialize those who built or defended our freedom,” said Rep. Bob Cleveland on Tuesday. “In my opinion this satanist monument does not met with the values of Oklahomans’.”
Opposition to the temple’s proposals seems to stem partially from the belief that Satanism isn’t actually a religion, and therefore isn’t entitled to a display at the state capitol. But the Satanic Temple repeatedly refers to Satanism as a religion in its own materials.
“The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people,” the temple says. Its website articulates a belief in a “Humanistic Satan,” a figure more literary construct than deity: “Satan stands as the ultimate icon for the selfless revolt against tyranny, free & rational inquiry, and the responsible pursuit of happiness.”
In the United States, we have no state religion; it’s not the business of the government to determine whether Satanist principles should be considered legitimate beliefs. If these belief are sincere and the people who follow them abide by the law, that’s all that matters. Satanism would have the same rights as any other religion. In fact, the state of Oklahoma agrees: it awarded a separate Satanist body tax exemption four years ago.
It’s interesting the same people who expect the government to give their religion special treatment refuse to allow other religions to have any kind of positive treatment like having a symbol on public property.
The Satanist’s project has reached their $20,000 funding goal but Oklahoma conveniently has decided not to accept any proposals until the ACLU lawsuit is resolved.
I also liked this paragraph from Sarah Jones in her post on the Wall of Separation blog that was also quoted above:
If Oklahoma lawmakers are upset by recent developments, they need to look at the source: themselves. When the legislature made space for the Ten Commandments, they may have opened the door for other religious displays as well.
One of these days, I hope Christians get a clue that you either let all religions on public property or you allow none of them.