Move over, Moses: The Prince of Darkness may be coming to the neighborhood.
An Associated Press report from yesterday claims that a group of satanists wants to put a monument to Satan next to the Ten Commandments marker that was placed outside of the Oklahoma Statehouse in 2012.
The Ten Commandments monument has been a lightening rod for controversy since the Republican-controlled state legislature approved it in 2009. Built with private funds, the stone marker commemorating Moses’ stone tablets finally went up last year, setting off a lawsuit with the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, due to what the ACLU claims is an egregious breach of the separation between church and state.
Since it was put up, however, other religious groups have petitioned the state in the hopes of getting their own religious monuments added to the steps of the Capitol building. That includes the New York-based Satanic Temple, who plans on submitting designs for “an homage to the historic/literary Satan” to the Capitol Preservation Commission later this month.
"We believe that all monuments should be in good taste and consistent with community standards," Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple wrote in letter to state officials. "Our proposed monument...will certainly abide by these guidelines."
According to the AP, “Greaves said one potential design involves a pentagram, a satanic symbol, while another is meant to be an interactive display for children.” Greaves also applauded the representative who pushed for the original Ten Commandments monument, Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow.
"[Ritze] is helping a satanic agenda grow more than any of us possibly could," Greaves said. "You don't walk around and see too many satanic temples around, but when you open the door to public spaces for us, that's when you're going to see us."
The ACLU agreed.
“If the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple's proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint,” said Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma.
Several members of the Oklahoma state legislature said they plan on continuing to forward legislation that could overstep the constitutionally-mandated separation between church and state, including a bill that would allow nativity scenes in public schools. Unsurprisingly, they’re not thrilled with the idea of a monument to the Judeo-Christian code of ethics sharing space with a tribute to Beelzebub.
"I think these Satanists are a different group," said Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. "You put them under the nut category."