The state of Oklahoma, having insisted on putting a statue of the Ten Commandments on the lawn of the state capitol, has reaped a whirlwind. Since that Biblical effigy was paid for by State Representative Mike Ritze (guess which political party he belongs to?), it wasn’t considered a violation of the First Amendment. But it is, since its position implies government endorsement. Ritze is an ordained Southern Baptist Deacon and served as a missionary. As Vice News reports,
As Trait Thompson of the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission told CNN last December, “Individuals and groups are free to apply to place a monument or statue or artwork.” The applications are then approved or rejected by the Commission.
Well, one group, the Satanic Temple, took that offer seriously, launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for a statue of Old Nick. They asked for $20,000, but got $30,000 (hell, I would have kicked in a few bucks just to make a point). So the statue has been designed, but there’s a tiny problem: the state has put a moratorium on applications for other monuments until a lawsuit filed against Oklahoma by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been resolved.
Still, the design for the monument is finished, and the Satanists intend to put a bronze statue on the capitol grounds anyway, claiming that their request was filed before the moratorium. Here’s what it looks like:
Now that is cool! Think of the children! Of course the Satanic Temple is getting all kinds of threats from the good citizens of Oklahoma, but really, the state brought it on themselves. If you promote one religion, you must promote them all. Just to be sure, though, the Satanists are making extra molds of the statue so they can cast replacement copies. As Vice reports:
The Baphomet, which will stand seven feet tall and be a testament to the glory of the Angel of the Bottomless Pit, would be placed directly beside the sculpture glorifying the laws given to Moses by the Christian God. The idea of a Satanic monument sitting on government property in Oklahoma—which is like the Bible Belt’s Bible Belt—seems a bit far-fetched, but Greaves says that “there has been quite a bit of discussion among legal scholars who recognize how difficult it would actually be for Oklahoma to turn us down… Constitutional law is quite clear on this issue: The state can’t discriminate against viewpoints. If they’ve opened the door for one, they’ve opened it for all.”
Ryan Kiesel from the Oklahoma ACLU seems to agree. He told the Libertarian Republic, “If, at the end of the day, the Ten Commandments monument is allowed to remain on the Capitol grounds with its overtly Christian message, then the Satanic Temple’s proposal can’t be rejected because it is of a different religious viewpoint.”
Vice can’t resist one editorial comment:
One popular argument being used against the Temple’s monument is that it doesn’t have “any historical significance for the State of Oklahoma,” as State Representative Paul Wesselhoft told a local news station in January. “The only reason why the Ten Commandments qualified,” he continued, “is because at the Capitol, what we do is we make laws. We are lawmakers. Well, one of the earliest laws we have are the Ten Commandments.” This, it is important to remember, was said by a current democratically elected member of the legislature.
And what if the statue is rejected? Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves has a backup plan:
And if it doesn’t end up in Oklahoma City and the Ten Commandments are forced to be removed, the Satanists will try to find a home for the Baphomet in another deserving state. Texas, for instance, has had a monument of the Ten Commandments sitting on its capitol grounds for 40 years. As Greaves put it, “There are no shortage of public locations across the US where religious monuments await a contrasting voice.”
Perhaps some will object, saying a monument to Satan is deliberately designed to offend those Christians who promoted the Ten Commandments effigy (and why is there still one in Texas?). But that’s precisely the point, for the Ten Commandments offends nonbelievers. It’s not a basis in any sense for Oklahoman or American law. Lest you think it is, see how much of law is based on the following (remember that the Bible has two versions; this is one of them. I’ve put the stuff “enshrined in law” in bold.)
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
- Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Maybe #6, #8, and, in some states, #7 are enshrined in law, but civilizations had laws and moral strictures against these three behaviors well before the Old Testament. The Ten Commandments monuments in Texas and Oklahoma are, pure and simple, attempts to push Judeo-Christian religion down the throats of Americans.