Is anyone interested in a nearly nine-foot bronzed statue of a goat-headed god?
The Satanic Temple would like to know.
The Baphomet monument — which, the Temple says, weighs about a ton and is a “sculptural masterpiece” — was originally constructed to sit alongside the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma state capitol’s grounds. But on Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the Ten Commandments must come down, meaning that the Satanic Temple’s Baphomet will need a new home.
According to Satanic Temple spokesman Doug Mesner (a.k.a. Lucien Greaves), the Temple agrees with the court’s decision.
“The entire point of our effort was to offer a monument that would complement and contrast the 10 Commandments, reaffirming that we live in a nation that respects plurality, a nation that refuses to allow a single viewpoint to co-opt the power and authority of government institutions,” Mesner said in an email. “Given the Court’s ruling, TST no longer has any interest in pursuing placement of the Baphomet monument on Oklahoma’s Capitol grounds.”
The Satanic Temple first proposed its monument in 2013, a year after the privately-funded Ten Commandments statue was erected on the capitol grounds, with the approval of the state legislature. At the time, the Temple promised a “public-friendly design” for its intended monument, one that could become “an object of play for young children.”
The finished statue is set to debut later this month at an “unveiling” party in Michigan. The temple will go ahead with the unveiling party, whether the statue has a new home or not. “The unveiling, we feel, should now also be a celebration of victory in Oklahoma,” Mesner said.
As for where the statue might end up next, Mesner says that “Arkansas is looking rather appealing.” Earlier this year, the Arkansas legislature approved a privately-funded monument of the Ten Commandments for the state’s capitol grounds.
“There are plenty of areas in the United States crying out for a counter-balance to existing graven tributes to archaic Abrahamic barbarism,” Mesner added.
Monuments like the one in Oklahoma, and the one proposed for Arkansas, can be legally complicated. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that a Ten Commandments monument at the Texas state capitol was constitutional, writing that “a reasonable observer, mindful of history, purpose, and context, would not conclude that this passive monument conveyed the message that the State endorsed religion.”
But in Oklahoma, the state’s high court rejected an argument that the monument served a historical purpose. The state constitution prohibits the use of public lands or funds to support a specific religion.
“The Ten Commandments are obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths,” the court’s decision reads. “Because the monument at issue operates for the use, benefit or support of a sect or system of religion, it violates Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution and is enjoined and shall be removed.”