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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. Organic1

    Very few places in the country has better need for this kind of statue, Okla. practices it more than any other form of worship.

    December 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  2. Mark

    I don't think any religion should have monuments on public land. I aslo think all religion is hogwash.

    However if I am wrong and the bible was inspired by an omnipotent being then I have to wonder about this God guy. As far as I can tell Satan's only crime is not obeying this God fellow. Considering Mr. God ( Lord, Jesus, holy spirit, amongst others, he seems to have many aliases) condones slavery, stoning of just about everybody. Ordered genocide. And frankly many things that would shame the most ambitious sociopath, I want to hear the other side of the story. Personally I would not follow him either.

    December 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  3. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    This is actually a good idea, because then you could do a side-by-side comparison and decide which one is better.

    December 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • igaftr

      Should we do this for the other thousands of gods as well, OR should government stay COMPLETELY out of the god business...oh wait...they are already IN the god business....the lie on our money, the hijacking of he Pledge of allegience by christians, endorsement of religious abominations in our govt buildings...this is a case where fighting fire with fire will leave scorched earth.

      December 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Carl, Secaucus, NJ

        Why not? The Romans even had a shrine "to the unknown god," so if there was a god they didn't know about, he/she/it wouldn't feel left out.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
        • igaftr

          We aren't the romans.
          When I go to do government business, I do not want to have to deal with ANY ancient baseless man-made beliefs.

          It is simply inappropriate for it to be there.

          December 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  4. Fetch Me Fish

    If they were looking to put a Noodling statue up there would be no questions asked.

    December 9, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  5. JBHedgehog

    As a high-deacon in the Church of the FSM I hear-by ask all right and honorable members of the Church of the FSM to band together and create an inspirational monument (weather sturdy...and somewhat tasteful, perhaps with some shrubbery around the base) to install at the Oklahoma site!

    The Church of the FSM is SIGNIFICANT...IMPORTANT...and downright critical to the historical development of our fine country. We deserve to be part of this conversation...and with our noble monument...we SHALL BE!!!

    Let's GO PEOPLE...I want plans and I want them NOW!!!

    December 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  6. Nathan

    Either it is equal access or it's not. We'll see...

    December 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  7. Goaty McCheese

    Underneath the sarcastic veneer of the political joker, there is always a little kid who was not allowed to sit at the cool table.

    December 9, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Nathan

      Maybe it was just your weird name they shunned?

      December 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  8. I_Own_Me

    This reminds me of a story where a group of parents (majority Christian) voted for religious pamphlets to be allowed to be sent home with their elementary students, despite some people protesting that this wasn't a good idea. A local Satanist group caught wind of this and made handouts promoting Satanism and sent them home with all the kids. The parents were so upset and there was so much outcry that they voted to not allow religious pamphlets of any kind anymore. lol Sometimes religious people only learn when they get a taste of their own medicine!

    December 9, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Roy

      Kind of like liberals when blacks start moving into their non-diverse hip neighborhoods.

      December 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
      • Joseph

        You are the worst kind of person Roy.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
        • Roy

          Actually, I'm not "Roy," I'm Satan.

          This seemed like a good board for me to troll.

          December 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • I_Own_Me

        What the hell are you talking about, Roy?

        December 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Maferwin

      You got that right!

      December 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  9. Roy

    Worshiping Satan beats Christianity, a/k/a worshiping jews, any day.

    December 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Mark

      Well you'll have your chance in person someday. Soon !

      December 9, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Allegedly, perhaps, maybe, possibly but not certainly.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  10. Hex

    Maybe religious folks can understand us atheists a bit now? Christians, Satanists, Muslims...whatever. It doesn't matter. We should favor ANY one over the other. The default of not choosing an opinion on god is atheism.

    December 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Actually, Hex, it's secularism. Which is what our government is supposed to be – not taking ANY position on religion. Not to promote Christianity, statanism, nor even theism nor atheism. Secular means you take no position on the existence or non-existence of any god. I think that's the better term for what you meant.

      December 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Ron

      Isn't that being agnostic?

      Not having an opinion on God is not the same as believing there is no God.

      December 9, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • J-Pap

        Agnostic means you don't know if God exists or not and you aren't siding one way or the other. It's a wait & see approach.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • Fedup

          Agnostics are lazy atheists

          December 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Horace

          Strictly, no. Agnostic means you cannot know, atheist means you are not a theist. Secular does not describe an individual, but a social stance.

          December 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  11. Jack 2

    Let the satanists put a statue of satan with flames all around him and his followers. Why do people want to put down others beliefs when they have no clue themselves. as long as no ones hurting you or your family why would you put their beliefs down. What's the point?

    December 9, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Sol Invictus

      The Point: The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion

      December 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
      • Susan StoHelit

        Seems that the 10 commandments monument says that is already there. And that law says no preferential treatment, so once they allow one religion, they need to allow them all.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Alias

      So why have flames around them?
      IS that what they believe, or are you imposing your religion on them again?

      December 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  12. Joe

    I like how it's okay for the Ten Commandments to be there but as soon as the Temple of Satan or whatever asks their stuff to go up, it becomes "Ok, we should take the Ten Commandments down".

    December 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Goaty McCheese

      I would agree if this group were a religious group. They've outed themselves early by saying they're only political provocateurs. If I were a Satanist I'd be a little annoyed that my religion was being usurped for someone else's political whims. In fact I'd probably have to seek those people out and sacrifice them.

      December 9, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Alias

        I'm glad there aren't more christians like you in my neighborhood.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • JAMES OLIVER

        I think sacrifice is frowned up these days. I know this fine group of Satan Worshippers claims to not take it seriously. I suspect all Christians who don't take their religion seriously quit going to church, it be hell fire lonely on Sunday.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • Horace

        You should learn what Satanism actually is. It is a political group which adopts religious terminology to provide a counterpoint to religion. Satanists don't actually worship Satan.

        December 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Some who call themselves Satanists do actually worship a being they call Satan. I have to agree that if I were of that group I would find Satanists who appropriated the name merely for political purposes annoying. Likewise I thing spiritualistic pantheists are reasonably upset by atheistic "pantheism", which, let's face it, is just a silly concept.

          December 9, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  13. Dilbert's Fan

    All patriots know that religious freedom is a two way street – any religious view is as valid as the Ten Commandments.

    December 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Agreed – Everyone is entited to their beliefs – regardless of the merit of that viewpoint.

      December 9, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • louise

      Well said Satan is a fairy tale and so is all the nonsense in the "bible".

      December 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
      • kwhisperer

        The difference here is that these so-called Satanists don't actually believe in Satan. They're being ironic as hipsters are wont to do. The other monument was put up by people who – rightly or wrongly – believe in the bible. I say don't put up something you don't believe in, especially in a spot where it's just meant to offend.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          But they are suggesting a monument for what they DO believe in – ideologies and beliefs that are deeply held as any religion, that all religions, all people, should be treated equally.

          December 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
        • Alias

          The point here is that satanism is as valid of a religion as christianity.
          If you try to decide what group appropriatly represents a religion you are going down a path that could lead to someone claiming the WBC has the bible figured out.

          December 9, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  14. SpaceCowboy

    Put the statue where it belongs...CONGRESS!!!

    December 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Gangster of Love

      A cemetery would be a better fit

      December 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  15. Guest

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

    Did this guy really just say that?! Good grief...

    December 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Sol Invictus

      Sarcasm... look into it

      December 9, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Sol Invictus

      More specifically – Ironic sarcasm

      December 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Justice

      Yipeee!

      A lesbian kiss in... toys that encourage hands on participation. Sarcasm intended.

      December 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  16. Dirt

    Wait... If I had enough money and got the proper forms filled out, could I have them put a statue of ME up at the capitol? Heck, we should all get a statue.

    December 9, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  17. Yep-Yep

    Sure. Open it up for a vote like the 10 Commandments were. Curious to see what the results will be... but I'm thinking most Okies won't find this very favorable. I mean, come on... why Oklahoma of all places? Is it a way to test the ultra-conservative stronghold? Although I've heard of a hidden Satanist culture in Oklahoma, their numbers will pale in comparison to the Christian majority. Even if they get one there, I'm sure it will defaced multiple times over – which it sounds like that's something they are worried about based on this article. I'm also curious if the American Civil Liberties Union would protest if this Satanic statue is included or will they act like hypocrites and continue to pursue removal of just the commandment statue? Or is it just okay to have religious statues if they aren't Christian?

    From a personal standpoint, I believe separation between church and state is ideal. Remove the current statue and prevent any other statue from being placed there that is religious.

    Though... we might want to keep the couple of commandments about not lying and stealing as reminders to the legislators! LOL 😉

    December 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Akira

      I would say removing the monument would make more sense, but this should be very interesting to see how it plays out.

      December 9, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Wolfaxe451

      Except if they vote not to allow them to place it they pretty much hand them a free victory in SCOTUS. They pretty much have to take the 10 Commandments statue down or let the Satanist statue go up. Really it's just a way to either prove that separation of church and state applies to everywhere, or allow more religious freedom everywhere.

      Personally I believe that government should just give up allowing these kinds of statues. They just need to completely stay out of any religion whatsoever.

      December 10, 2013 at 2:18 am |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    When did I realize I was God?

    Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized that I was talking to myself ...

    December 9, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Dilbert's Fan

      good one! 🙂 Not every sheep is that smart.

      December 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Live4Him

      That's exactly how Satan deceived himself!

      December 9, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
      • Sol Invictus

        You are as crazy as a loon...

        December 9, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  19. OldSchool

    Well, fair is fair!

    December 9, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  20. conoclast

    Oooo satanists! Get out the exorcism guide "christians"! Be sore-afraid (as if that were a change!); beelzebub is at your very doorstep, seeking to sap your republican zeal!

    December 9, 2013 at 3:45 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.