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. JT

    If it goes up I will tear it down!

    December 9, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Pete

      Why not let your all-powerful God do that for himself?

      December 9, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  2. Colin

    Can you imagine just how sick the members of a cult must be to worship one of the most evil, vicious, murderous beings the human mind has ever conceived!!

    But enough about Christians, who are these Satanist guys?

    December 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • JJ

      LOL...you had me.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Blue

      Exactly! LOL! see some truths about the christian god here http://www.truthaboutgod.weebly.com

      December 9, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Dandintac

      Is that you Bill Maher?

      December 9, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  3. Swanson

    This is so awesome!! I was waiting for a group to do this. I am not a Satanist myself but if a faith pushes to reverse the separation of church and state, they need to be open to all faiths and I know many Christians will not be. You can't pick and choose which religions you endorse, you can't say one religion can be represented and not another. That is not how it works. ?You can say, 'well, we need to go with the majority', but what would have happened in the Roman times if that was enforced?

    December 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  4. Water to Whine

    ONLY a secular government can truly provide unbiased religious freedom for all of its people. As soon as one religion is favored in any way for any reason, the ability to provide religious freedom for all begins to slide down a slippery slope. No government building in the US has any business erecting any religious monument on government grounds.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  5. saroful

    Um, has nobody read Summum v. Pleasant Grove City? SCOTUS ruled on this pretty decisively a few years back. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/08pdf/07-665.pdf if you're interested.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  6. IWABS

    The irony of a Ten Commandments monument...a graven image declaring god's edict to 'not make graven images'!

    December 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  7. ME II

    Personally, I can't understand why Christians want these monuments anyway.
    Doesn't the rock itself disprove the Young Earth story portrayed by a literal reading of the Bible?

    December 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  8. ScottCA

    That there is an statue to an archaic belief outside the Oklahoma's state capitol is utterly shameful for Oklahoma, the US, and for the worlds modern democracies. Religion has no place in governance. That statue represents a huge step backward from the secularist ideas of Classical liberalism and the humanitarian revolution. What a shamefully immoral and backward display by the Oklahoma state government, by allowing a statue of the 10 commandments to rest outside their capitol.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Responding to the Pride

      "immoral"? That's rich.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
      • Pete

        "Unconst_itutional" then.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It's Oklahoma. There are a lot more things to be embarrassed about.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  9. Ralph_in_FL

    Why is this blog refusing to post my reply to another poster? Nothing I wrote in the reply is any more offensive than most of the other comments and replies.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • ME II

      This blog blocks posts based on character strings, while there is a long list of targeted strings, some common ones are cu.m as in docu.ment, ti.t as in consti.tuion, and ho.mo.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      They don't have to be offensive. The filter is simpleminded. Constitution is block because of "tit". Conspicuous because of "spic". Look for the offending bits.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Akira

      You might have a forbidden word fragment in your post. For instance, Constitution is a forbidden word because tit in it.
      (I know a bit of HTML.)

      December 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  10. ScottCA

    No Religious monuments of any kind should be allowed on any property designated for public offices of any kind.

    Seccularism (The separation of Church and State) is the greatest achievement of Classical liberalist thought and greatly responsible for our moral progress and the reduction of violence experienced since the humanitarian revolution that was made possible by Secularism.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Guest

      Well said!

      December 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  11. jimmyboston

    The State capitol represents the legal system of government. The Satanic church's motto of 'do as thou wilt' does not fit in with any accepted form of justice anywhere in the world.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Kenny

      I'd wager that the world would be a better place if more people followed the Satanist motto than if they followed a book that endorses slavery, child sacrifice, torture, discrimination, and cannibalism...that book would be the bible.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Akira

      The State Capital is blatantly flaunting the US Constitution. The CoS's philosophy has nothing to do with it, any more than Christianity's does.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Jimmy, Have you actually read the ten commandments? The first few are very blatantly unconsti.tutional too if you are looking at the actual beliefs. The only reason people aren't yet asking to post bits of the Quran is that they know the backlash isn't worth it. Kudos to the Satanists for at least standing up.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  12. JJ

    Perfect. This will put the braindead religious freaks smack dab in their place. LOL! 🙂

    December 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Guest


      December 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  13. truthis

    Get religion out of government.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Impossible, the US was created with Christian principles designed into our Govt and Culture. Separation of Church and State only means the is no official state religion like Israel has Judaism – but Separation of C and S never meant, and never will be allowed to become the removal of Christian values. If you don't like that, get out.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        List the christian principles designed into the US government.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
      • JJ

        Christian values as in manifest destiny, slaughter of native peoples, slavery, go to war for any reason at any time, etc.? You talking about those?

        December 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
      • Um

        "If you don't like it get out" You sound so accepting of change and knowledge. All things change and hopefully for the better. You are the same type of person that caused the dark ages. Get your head out of the sand or please do the world a favor and get off the planet.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
      • Oh

        Get out? Very christian of you.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
      • Guest

        Separation of church and state was meant, and is the law of the land. If you don't like it, YOU get out!!!

        December 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
      • mom


        books, read them. Don't go for the bible in the fiction section

        December 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
      • SigmundFreud

        Nice try, Mr. Duckworth. In fact that founding fathers made it explicitly clear that they wanted "A wall of separation between Church & State", to quote Thomas Jefferson.

        Ah .... you have read Thomas Jefferson's statements on religion? Don't believe everything that Fox News and Michelle Bachmann tell you. Come to think if it, don't believe anything that Fox & Michelle tell you.

        How about this from the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion".

        Basically, Mr. Duckworth, you are living in a fantasyland.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
      • Sam

        There is something wrong with your mind Mr. Duckworth. You can't have separation of church and state and a Christian based government at the same time. The Church, any church, is based on religion and the Christian church is no exception.

        December 9, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  14. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Erect a monument to Priapos in Oklahoma as well. It would represent Oklahoma values. Perhaps it could be gifted to Oklahoma by the States for keeping the virtues of religion firmly in hand.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Akita

      Oh, my. That would definitely make a statement, as so many are ever-so-concerned with what people do with their naughty bits.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
      • Akira


        December 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  15. ironwolf56

    Only monuments that reflect Oklahoma's values? So...a monument to meth and cousin'-lovin' then?

    December 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Guest

      Oh, good one.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  16. lemon

    This is so awesome. Because you know when the religious right are talking about "religious freedom", there's only one religion they are talking about.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • JesterJames

      you are free to believe in any religion as long as my religion holds the power to revoke your right to religious freedom. this is how religious freedom really works in the US.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  17. sirhuxley

    It is really simple, remove the Christian monument and stop trying to inject Christianity and the bible into government.

    If the state of OKey dokey jeebus won't remove the monument then definitely put up the Satanist one, and the Muslim one, and the Scientologist one.

    Why? Because plurality and equality is the most important value that Oklamhomans need to learn.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      The US was founded by Colonists with Christian themes designed into our culture and system of Government. Separation of Church and state actually means we don't have a State Religion like Israel has Judiasm or Iraq has Muslim or England has the Church of England. The US was founded with Christian principles designed into our Govt system – that's a fact and it can not be un done. If you don't like that you are free to move out.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
      • JJ

        Another liar for Jesus.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
      • cc

        The US was founded by Colonists with democratic themes designed into our government & culture. The fact that most of the colonists were Christian is irrelevant. I'll note that Christians themselves can't agree on a complete list of 'Christian' values-and the value of non-discrimination definitely isn't on that list. If you don't like democracy then move elsewhere.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
      • Water to Whine

        You are right that MOST of the founding fathers were Christian, but several of those also despised religion, believe it or not, based on the fact that religion had been forced on them by government before. They specifically created a government that did not include religion officially, despite what their personal beliefs may have been. This means that any religious beliefs cannot be included in the writing of law. The idea that US law reflects Chrisitanity based on that law resembling Christian law is irrelevant. If you will notice most all religions in the world agree on most of the things in the ten commandments. Murder is wrong in all religions. Stealing is wrong in all religions. Morality is based on logic, and that logic is reflected in basic religious ideals across the board.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
      • Saraswati

        Putting the ten commandments on government land without other religions represented IS state religion.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
      • Sam

        Mr. Duckworth. Are you talking about the thirteen colonies of Britain and the government the founders of this country revolted to free themselves from?

        December 9, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  18. tony

    separate religion from state please, they DO NOT belong together.

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

      and by that i mean remove the 10 commandments from the state capitol

      December 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  19. On

    They are a New York based group what does that have to do with religion? I'll tell you, NOTHING! They are not a religion so they won't get they're way. Stop wasting our time!!

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

      Religion is lawfully decided by the participant, not the government in most cases. So anything can be lawfully called a religion. I know a guy in Austin, TX who started a religion based on the "worship" of his saxophone. He has tax exempt status as the head of his own religion.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
      • Saraswati

        Exactly. The US does not regulate who is and isn't a religion. If I declare my belief in one eyed blue slugs that control the universe, that's as much a religion as Catholicism.

        December 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  20. tom LI

    As an Atheist I find this another in a long line of silly "statements" made by any one of any non-Xtian Religion.

    For me the real anti-Religious statement is the fact that anyone thinks erecting a 10 commandment monument in any Court or Legislative setting, or in any civil service establishment – where corruption runs rampant – makes any impact, weilds any power to alter or control events therein! The very presence of these monuments in those environments negates the actual respect and alleged POWER of said monument and the sentiment behind them! I mean come-on! Its the primo example of Irony!

    Hell make people swear on 4 Bibles – one for each appendage – it still wont make anyone honest or moral by or contact alone – let alone its presence!

    December 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Water to Whine

      You're right. The ten commandments at any government building is just an attempt to control the people through religion by making law seem holy. As if murder isn't wrong without the church around to say it is.

      December 9, 2013 at 6:08 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.