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Satanists want statue next to 10 Commandments
A Ten Commandments monument erected outside the Oklahoma state Capitol.
December 9th, 2013
01:46 PM ET

Satanists want statue next to 10 Commandments

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Lots of lawmakers have been accused of devilish behavior, but Oklahoma's state capitol may become the first to actually have a monument to Satan.

If a New York-based group called the Temple of Satan gets its way, a statue of the Evil One would sit next to the recently erected 10 Commandments monument on state capitol grounds.

"They said they wanted to be open to different monuments," said Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Temple of Satan, "and this seems like a perfect place to put that to the test."

Greaves and some legal experts say the Constitution is clear: the government can't endorse one particular religion. So, if a state capitol has a monument to one faith, it must allow monuments to others as well.

The Temple of Satan is less a religious body organized around rituals and regular meetings than a roving band of political provocateurs, said Greaves. They believe Satan is a "literary construct," the spokesman said, not an actual being with horns and hooves.

Last year, the Temple organized a gay and lesbian kiss-in at the gravesite of the mother of anti-gay preacher and activist the Rev. Fred Phelps. It also held a rally at Florida's state capitol in support of a law that allows "inspirational messages" at public school assemblies.

"It allows us to spread the message of Satanism," which centers around respect for diversity and religious minorities, said Greaves.

Oklahoma legislators voted to erect the Ten Commandments monument in 2009, using private funds donated by Rep. Mike Rietz, a surgeon and Southern Baptist deacon.

Rietz declined to comment on the Satanists' proposal on Monday, citing an separate and ongoing dispute with the American Civil Liberties Union over the Ten Commandments monument.

Oklahoma state Rep. Bob Cleveland told CNN that he's not in favor of the Satanist's proposed statue.

"I believe that only monuments that reflect Oklahoma values should be allowed on capitol the capitol grounds," Cleveland said in an e-mail on Monday.

But if Christians and Jews can have their monument to the 10 Commandments, then Satanists must be allowed to erect their own statue, said Brady Henderson, legal director of the American Civil Liberty Union's Oklahoma chapter.

"We feel like the Satanic Temple has a very strong argument to say that, if the state allows one religious monument, you have to allow others," Henderson said.

Oklahoma's statehouse grounds already has monuments honoring its heritage and Native American history, said Trait Thompson, chair of the Capitol Preservation Commission.

"Individuals and groups are free to apply to place a monument or statue or artwork," Thompson said.

The commission then determines whether the proposal abides by its standards and votes on whether to approve it.

Greaves said he's received the required forms from Oklahoma's Capitol Preservation Commission and is working on a design that will meet its standards.

"We want something big and bold that will be able to stand up to the weather or whatever other kinds of assaults," that may target the monument, he said.

"My favorite idea right now is an object of play for children. We want kids to see that Satanism is where the fun is."

The Temple of Satan created a Indiegogo fundraising page on Monday, but have thus far only publicly raised $150 towards its goal of $20,000.

Not all Satanist groups see the fun in political provocations.

Magus Peter Gilmore, head of the Church of Satan, which was founded by Anton LaVey in 1966, said he believes in strict separation of church and state.

"Rather than placing multiple 'advertisements' for various religions, we think it best for the (10 Commandments) monument to be removed to private property and that there be no objects supporting religion of any sort placed on the statehouse grounds," Gilmore said.

Earlier this year, Gilmore's Church of Satan squared off against a British group of Satanists over abortion rights, after activists shouted "Hail Satan" to drown out anti-abortion activists at the Texas state capitol.

READ MORE: Satanists square off on abortion (Yes, really)

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Culture wars • Devil • Satanism

soundoff (3,610 Responses)
  1. NormW

    I love it when people post anything on the internet concerning religion. A true Christian doesn't let it bother them because they realize that there is always (and always has been) two sides to every story. The only people that it bothers so much that they get angry and cant sleep that night is those hypocrites that proclaim to be Christians but are the first to lie to you or stab you in the back. A true Christian doesn't have to tell anyone whether they are a Christian or not. Anyone can tell by their actions. Only those that feel the need to convince the world that they are a Christian are the ones what should be concerned.

    December 10, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Gearoid

      Ever heard of a No True Scotsman?

      December 10, 2013 at 1:11 am |
      • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

        Haven't you heard? Bible-thumpers don't have to play by the same rules of conduct that everyone else has to. Corollary to that is the fact that fallacies apply only to other peoples logic, not theirs.

        December 10, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Observer

      NormW,

      Does a "true Christian" choose verses from the Bible picking on gays or does he choose the Golden Rule?

      Does a "true Christian" pretend the Bible ever mentions abortion or does he believe that pro-choice supporters should not be called "murderers"?

      December 10, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • sam

      LOL @ 'true Christian'. That goalpost moves daily.

      December 10, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  2. Haha

    I say let them have it. Their best weapon is secrecy. If America ever finds out how stupid they think everyone is their goose is cooked. That's why that head guy doesn't want it.

    December 10, 2013 at 1:02 am |
  3. Gearoid

    Fairs fair. Sorry Christians, but you have to play by the rules.

    Personally, I support no religious monuments on capitol grounds. But since that does not seem to be the direction we are going as a country, every time a monument is put up supporting Christianity, myself and others that belong to various minority faiths will push for equal inclusion.

    Maybe we can have a pagan monument on the other side of the Satanist one. Surround the Christian monument with the two favorite slurs of evangelicals. It has a nice irony no?

    December 10, 2013 at 1:01 am |
  4. mo

    I think we're all doing exactly what the satanist group wants. They want attention and controversy. If it's detestable and unreasonable to you...then don't give it place. I am a Christian and the only thing i find disturbing here is that they are lost souls. They don't understand what or who they are professing and the consequences of such things. That they want to put up a monument about it on state ground is secondary to that. Pray for the souls and the rest will fall in place.

    December 10, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Gearoid

      They aren't "professing" anything directly. DId you read the article? They see Satan as a literary construct. My only real issue with them is they aren't really a religious group.

      December 10, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • adibese

      They're using Archaic and Oppressive Christian rule changes that allow government displays of CHRISTIANITY. The Satanists are using this new rule to put up their own displays. I think it's brilliant, because you CLAIM freedom of religion, but you really mean freedom of Christianity to do as it pleases. This is exactly why the founding fathers wanted to separate church and state. But you guys had to push your beliefs on others... so I support those that throw it back at you hypocrites.

      December 10, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • obamaplace

      if you actually bothered to read the article you would know they don't actually believe in Satan

      The point of this is to bring to people's attention a blatant disregard for the separation of church and state

      although that is exactly the kind of stupid knee jerk reaction I would expect from a Christian

      December 10, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • Graeme from Ottawa

      and Christians want unanimity, right.

      December 10, 2013 at 1:15 am |
  5. Freddie nerk

    Sounds like a good cause. I just posted a check.

    December 10, 2013 at 12:59 am |
  6. mac101

    This is exactly why there should be no religious statues/monuments/displays on public property – if you allow one, you have to allow all.

    But I'm really curious to know what a Satanist monument would look like.

    December 10, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • Associatex

      Im guessing the monument would be a pentagram

      December 10, 2013 at 12:45 am |
      • NormW

        I was thinking more on the line of a gargoyle sitting on a tree branch with lightning bolts coming out of it's eyes. Doesn't that sound a little more in line with most people thinking about Satanism? I am not a Satanist, but, I would say that 95% of the people that make a post of this subject doesn't have a clue what it is all about.

        December 10, 2013 at 12:56 am |
        • NormW

          OR, where Satan came from to begin with. Satan used to be an Angel until God kicked him out of heaven. And so Satan decided to challenged God for a duel to see who could get the most followers. In the beginning of the contest, it was a little lop=sided on the side of God, but; in this present day and age, I would say that the scales are tipping a little more in the other direction with all the hate, murder, and other crimes man imposes upon one another. Agree?

          December 10, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

      Agreed. The entire issue can be resolved by not allowing sectarian monuments of any sort. It's a waste of taxpayers money that can be better spent on education and infrastructure.

      December 10, 2013 at 1:11 am |
  7. Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

    Build a church and put a big sign out front calling it "Church of Christ" and nobody bats an eye. Build a church and put a big sign out front calling it "Church of Satan" and at the very least there'll be picketers and arson attempts.

    Hypocrisy and intolerance, anyone?

    December 10, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • NormW

      It's a little of both.

      December 10, 2013 at 12:24 am |
    • So what

      I think the picketing you suggest is at least equal to holding a gay kiss-in at the gravesite if a preacher's mother, no? I think both groups use the same tactics. It's not like the Satanists are angels, you know.

      December 10, 2013 at 12:33 am |
      • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

        "I think the picketing you suggest is at least equal to holding a gay kiss-in at the gravesite if a preacher's mother, no? "

        Could you please re-write that in English? I'm having a very difficult time parsing that. "If a preacher's mother, no?" what's that supposed to mean?

        December 10, 2013 at 12:36 am |
        • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

          @ jurie spear: "it means you are a low life individual!" Judging from an ad hominem attack like that it's plain to see who the low life is.

          @ mo: "ummm...i think its pretty obvious what he's saying...your need to be-rate him publicly for a typo shows your character off quite nicely. simply.... "if" should have been "of". Get off your high-horse"

          That was more than a simple typo. If someone bothers to respond to another's post the least they can do is form a coherent, well-reasoned response. Yours and So What's comments don't qualify. I'll stay on my high horse, thank you. I know how to ride.

          December 10, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Guest

      Well said.

      December 10, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  8. NormW

    As long as they have a sign next to it that says "This way to Hell," sure, I have no problem with that.

    December 10, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Observer

      NormW,

      You missed the entire point. Read the story again.

      December 10, 2013 at 12:26 am |
      • NormW

        No, I didn't miss the point. I meant what I said and said what I meant.

        December 10, 2013 at 12:53 am |
        • Observer

          NormW,

          Any problem for you if the "this way to hell" sign is on the same grounds as one saying "God is dead"?

          December 10, 2013 at 12:59 am |
        • Gearoid

          Yeah, you missed the point pretty bad.

          December 10, 2013 at 1:05 am |
        • sam

          I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind.

          December 10, 2013 at 1:44 am |
  9. So what

    I must admit I found the idea pretty stupid, so didn't really read the whole article... But it seems to be saying that a group from New York is demanding the right to place a statue on Oklahoma state property? I could understand their point if it were federal property but I don't think they have a cloven hoof to stand on if it's state property of a different state. Let them have their silly satanic playground and let the kids enjoy it at their expense. The best way to deal with that type of instigation is to ignore it and say a prayer for those stupid enough to worship Satan.

    December 10, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Guest

      . . . and your prayer would be just as ineffective in addressing this issue as it is in preventing hunger and suffering . . . how's that going, eh?

      December 10, 2013 at 12:47 am |
  10. Kim

    Sick

    December 10, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • sam

      Allowing religious crap all over the place? I agree.

      December 10, 2013 at 1:46 am |
  11. psychicstalker

    Hey, well you know God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses and God created Satan too. I am not sure whether there is "fun" in either one, so just leave the children out of it.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
  12. Reality # 2

    Satan, the demon of the demented.

    The Ten Commandments- A Jewish scribe's (not Moses) summary of the Hammurabi Code and also the Egyptians' Book of the Dead. They should note this on all copies.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  13. Dirac

    Only of these groups are actually Satanists, and the others are plagiarists. Those mentioned prior in the article christianized Satanism (read their tenets and compare them to the originals if you don't believe me) and removed the awe and glory from it. Magus Gilmore is the current High Priest of the first above ground Satanic religion, founded by Anton Szandor LaVey.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  14. Magister

    I believe Americans are too into what they believe or disbelieve. Why governments and public spaces be soapboxes for Christians, Muslims, Satanists, Atheists, Nihilists, and all the rest? When are we going to admit that our true religion is NARCISSISM?

    December 9, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
  15. aydon

    so...a satan based on mr walken.....i'd go and see it....or all "pretty" like mr pitt......the possibilities are endless.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  16. hearties

    That would be awesome to see the real 10 commandments from God. The real stones he wrote on. Anything from God is SO awesome... words... from... God. They're in the bible too, don't forget that.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • Colin

      Have you ever wondered why a god, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, etched his laws for the entire human race on a couple of (missing) stone tablets for a tribe of nomadic Middle Eastern goat herders? Sounds every bit as crazy as Joseph Smith and his Mormon seer stones, doesn't it?

      December 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
      • Kev

        How does peculiarity automatically equate to validity?

        December 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
  17. Jessica

    I think they're only trying to see if the lawmakers are really going to stand by what they've said...It would be wrong for them to allow one faith and not another. That being said, satanists don't worship the devil, they are atheists who believe mostly in individualism and being your own motivating force in life. That being said, I think it's slightly childish to try to do what they're doing, knowing that they are going to stir things up...but they're not going to put a statue of the biblical depiction of satan there because they don't believe in that. I doubt it would be overtly 'evil' in appearance.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
  18. doktorkonrad1981

    I AM A Nihilist , I BELIEVE IN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, STUPIDITY!!!!!!

    December 9, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
  19. One nation under one very political God

    The ultimate troll.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • Magister

      ALmost as bad as Obama, Marx, and Ayers.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
      • Observer

        Magister,

        Sorry you weren't here for the Bush years.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
  20. Red nertz

    I think that if the judeo-christian symbology gets to stay, then they should have to erect a monument inscribed with the Pastafarian religion's eight "I'd Rather You Didn'ts". Pastafarianism, also known as the Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, is an official religion registered with the IRS, the State Department, and the Armed Services. I think I would sue under the equal rights laws if they refused to erect such a monument, at taxpayers expense.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Gentle Godlessness

      Or you could do something productive, like help the poor and unfortunate.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
      • doobzz

        Fighting to uphold the Constituition is productive.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
        • Gentle Godlessness

          No free speech/expression? Or just "politically correct" speech/expression?

          December 9, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
        • doobzz

          I'm not sure where you got that out of my comment.

          Free speech/freedom of expression is for everyone. If one religious group gets to break the law, then all religious/nonreligious groups get to break that law as well.

          December 10, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • lol??

      The law is a schoolmaster. Some never graduate.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.