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. birch please

    There is a personified creator of the vast universe with billions of galaxys with billions of stars, and this being fight with another

    December 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • birch please

      .... for the ghosts of monkeys in just the past few 1,000 years....... lololololololololololololololololol

      December 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  2. Mark

    Fair is fair. Freedom of religion means ALL religions.

    But to be honest. the 10 commandments should not be there in the first place.

    Separation of Church and state is a must to keep politics fair.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • mason

      I agreed

      December 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Thomas

      Because we all know how fair the American polotical system is...

      December 9, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  3. JJ

    All our local schools are taken over every Sunday morning by Christians who convert them into churches. They have these signs that are custom made to perfectly fit over the school's entrance signs so that it looks like permanent signs with the name of their church on it them. I would give anything for some Muslims to request the use of the schools in place of a mosque and see how that goes over.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • mason

      Evangelicals are so stupid they don't realize they are paving the way for Islam...

      December 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  4. John

    They have to take down the 10 Commandment or every religion under the sun is going to have a statue at the Oklahoma state capitol. Might be worth visiting Oklahoma if they did.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  5. anonymous

    Separation of church and state is wise. Whenever a Church and State become one you have persecution of heretics, aka those who disagree or don't do things like that church tells them to. The Inquisition of the Catholic Church anyone? We don't live in a theocracy we live in a democracy. Many people don't understand a lot of things that happened in Bible times because they don't understand the difference between a religious led government and other types of government like we see today. Like for instance when the Hebrew nation, the Israelites went and destroyed a nation, it was because they had turned their back on Israel's God who declared Himself to be the one true God. That affected their whole nation. They put God first in those times. They destroyed whole cities man woman and child because God told them to and God gave them victory when they followed His lead. In the Biblical times a theocracy would work but today it has too much potential to do more harm.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Mark


      December 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  6. kyzaadrao

    A non-religion ends up yet again on a belief blog. Go figure.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Most beliefs have nothing at all to do with religion. Go figure.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Is the story about satanists or christians and their abuse of the const!tution?

      December 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • lemon

      Satanism is not a religion?

      December 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  7. Water to Whine

    They should just remove the ten commandments monument and be done with it. Representing just one religion, or even two, just opens a can of worms that destacts from the real issues the people at the state capital are there to solve. Freedom of religion exists. Separation of church and state exists (or is supposed to). Let's not push it.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  8. Let me be Free of You

    As a Christian, I don't need monuments and plaques to proclaim my personal beliefs and I certainly don't want my government claiming one religion over another. But I wouldn't mind having politicians that attempt to follow at least 5 out of the 10 commandments while they are in office.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  9. JW

    I dont get something...Why would a Satanist quote the 10 commandments?

    December 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • G to the T

      Sarcastic irony – they are using it to prove a point.

      December 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  10. ColdWar

    The ten commandments are the historical antecedents of western law. Whether inspired by God or the invention of man, they are the roots of our legal system. That is all.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • birch please

      Really... then we need to certainly get rid of a few then dont we

      December 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The story of Satan is the antecedent of the story of law's origin.

      December 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Water to Whine

      However, the ten commandments, and most all moral codes for that matter, are based on logic. It is logical in a society which is trying to be congruent that murder and stealing would create discordance. We don't need a religious connection to create law as long as the law is logical.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • JJ

      "they are the roots of our legal system". How does "thou shalt have no other gods before me" fit into that?

      December 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
      • ColdWar

        You no nothing of jurisprudence. Cannon law followed Judeo-Christian law. Secular law followed Cannon Law. Just because there are laws that are no longer part of our current justice system doesn't mean they weren't part of its predecessors at some point. No one woke up one day and created a brand new legal framework from scratch; they used what suited them and discarded the rest.

        December 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
        • Saraswati

          They drew from many sources, including non-Christian Greek and Roman legal systems. And all of these systems had predecessors of different beliefs that we wouldn't even recognize today. There is no one system which originated the ideas on which our government is based. These ideas began to form thousands of years ago.

          December 9, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
        • ColdWar

          Saraswati – interesting point. Maybe we need to put verbiage from a handful of these other sources next to these Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, I don't think that any of them are as recognizable. The point, however, is that it is not meant as religious text in this context. It is meant to remind us of one of the roots of our legal traditions.

          December 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • sirhuxley

      No, actually they are not.

      Our form of government was inspired by purely Secular values, any system of Self-governance would have arrived at similar laws even if they knew nothing about the so-called "10 commandments"

      As an anti-theist I very much want my life and property protected by our laws.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • ColdWar

        I am not talking about our form of government, I'm talking about our legal system. You will note that any legal scholar will tell you that the immediate predecessor of the US justice system is the Magna Carta. There is nothing secular about the Magna Carta, and it it existed well before our form of government.

        December 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Larry L

      Not so. The first four are simply marketing religion.

      The fifth is about contract law. I believe "taking the Lord's name in vain" referred to breaking a contract sealed "in the name of God". It's not about cursing.

      The rest are just secular rules from a myriad of sources – killing, stealing, various forms of coveting....

      December 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • G to the T

      What? Only 3 of the 10 are laws. So how much was it based on this idea? I think you'll find much more support that your system was based on Enlightenment ideals which can be traced a revivial of Greek philosophies.

      December 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  11. Jimbo

    Would it be an insult or compliment if I told them to go to hell.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Probably neither as there is no actual evidence that hell actually exists.

      December 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
      • Larry L

        Really? Have you ever been to Oklahoma?

        December 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          LOL! I have, it sucked.

          December 9, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  12. Richard

    Satanists. Are these the losers who, having been ignored their whole lives go out and buy things like pit-bulls so they'll get noticed and respected? LOSERS!!!!

    December 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Wolfaxe451

      Really it's a way to push religious freedom or separation of church and state. They are allowed to have any view they want.

      December 10, 2013 at 2:38 am |
  13. Andrew

    Go and read the Temple of Satan beliefs on their website. It is contradictory and really just humanism with some religous archetypes thrown in for flavor. If they get their own monument, then we need to give Good Housekeeping and homemakers their own monument. At what point does something become a "religion"?

    December 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  14. Adam

    Hahahahahahahahaha rofl! Check and mate.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Pharmer John

    Good Lord.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  16. Rock Reynolds

    I have no more problem with a Satanist statue, than I do with the "God of Wrath's" 10 Commandments.
    But I LOVE the spin that Satanists put on themselves, claiming that they're NOT a "religion" (First thing the spokesman said.).
    If you want to drive a Satanist crazy, ask him about his "religion". I guarantee that his response will be, "WE'RE NOT A RELIGION!!!!!" (I cut short the exclamation marks. There's usually at least 20.)
    Oh??????? You're not????
    You don't believe in a higher power????
    You never worship at an altar???
    You don't use any alchemist items such as wands or potions????
    You're not looking for EQUAL "religious time" next to the "religious" 10 Commandments????
    I guess that the Satanist definition of "Religion" is groups of folks that meet at 10:00AM on Sunday, and nobody else.
    I guarantee, the question will drive a Satanist crazy.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • GatorDude

      As an agnostic, I'd prefer to sit off to side and ponder the evidence I have so far. However, this Temple of Satan might be playing with fire. If there is a Satan, I really wouldn't want to make him mad.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  17. Joey

    Here's what I don't get about the 10 Commandments: Moses came down off the mountain the 2nd time, with 10 commandments including "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Then him and his honchos killed everyone who had helped make a golden calf. Then halfway across the desert they killed everyone they didn't like, and then... when Moses died (killed?) they entered the Land of Milk & Honey. But they killed every man, woman and child who lived there first. Just like Jews do to Palestinians right now. Occupy their land kill everyone and call it "sunshine village" or whatever.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Andrew

      Actually the Hebrew translates into Thou shall not murder. "To murder" and "to kill" are not equivalent as murder implies evil intent where killing is the result of an action (which may be murder).

      December 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • ColdWar

      Thou Shalt Not Kill is the incorrect translation. The original is closer to "Thou shalt not commit murder". Killing in war is not murder. Murder, in it's strictest sense, is a killing within your society.

      December 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
      • G to the T

        "Murder" is an immoral/illegal version of killing. And for the Hebrews of that time, that only applied to other Hebrews (as the majority of the OT shows).

        December 10, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • cosmicsnoop

      Well it's a book of mythology and is chock full of contradictions and outright foolishness. Why would anyone think it makes any sense or has any relevance today?

      December 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
      • orpheusrises

        Go to a church and find out

        December 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          No thanks, if we need to get our fix for lies we'll just watch Fox news...

          December 9, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Rock Reynolds

      The 10 Commandments are rules for slaves (us). Moses didn't think that the rules applied to the masters (him).
      When Jesus was asked for the "greatest commandment", Jesus wouldn't touch any of Moses' 10.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
      • Joey

        You Rock, Reynolds, that's great insight. Thanks to everyone for your comments 🙂

        December 9, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  18. Wesc2

    Neither of these statues should be allowed there...

    December 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Wolfaxe451

      That's the point. They are using it to force Oklahoma's hand. It's actually a very cool way to go about it.

      December 10, 2013 at 2:40 am |
  19. magicpanties

    This is a very clever way to get them to remove their stoopid christian monument.
    Well done!

    December 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Andrew

      Actually, the 10 commandments are Jewish. So it would be a Jewish monument.

      December 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  20. Okay Guy

    Well, a marble statue of "Hot Stuff," could be kind of a fun thing.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:42 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.