Baphomet statue: How Satanic worshippers are using a goat-headed creature against conservative Arkansas Christians

The bronze, goat-headed figure has become a political weapon for the Satanic group

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 17 August 2018 20:24 BST
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Arkansas senator Jason Rapert says it will be 'very cold day in hell' before Satanic group's Baphomet statue allowed on capitol grounds

The Satanic Temple has become a thorn in the side of conservative officials hoping to preserve a newly-erected religious statue in Arkansas.

The organisation, which doubles as a non theistic religion and political activist group, has repeatedly condemned a decision to unveil a Ten Commandments monument outside of the Arkansas state capitol building last year.

Its most shocking demonstration arrived this week in the form of a monument of its own: Satanists carried an over eight-foot tall bronze statue depicting Baphomet — a goat-headed devil figure — to the state capitol building on Thursday, drawing Christian counter-protestors and backlash from Republican officials.

"It will be a very cold day in hell before an offensive statue will be forced upon us to be permanently erected on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol," said Jason Rapert, a Republican senator who described the Satanists as “extremists.”

Mr Rapert sponsored a bill proposing the Ten Commandments monument be erected on the grounds of the capitol building in 2017.

The Baphomet monument was only temporarily allowed near the capitol building, but the Satanic Temple has called on local officials to make it a permanent structure.

"If you’re going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others," said Ivy Forrester, Satanic Arkansas co-founder. "If you don’t agree with that then let’s just not have any at all."

It’s not the first time the Satanic Temple has brought Baphomet around to make political statements. The statue also made an appearance in Detroit on 25 July 2015, to protest against another Ten Commandments monument which had been erected on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

"We chose Baphomet because of its contemporary relation to the figure of Satan and find its symbolism to be appropriate if displayed alongside a monument representing another faith," the Satanic Temple said in a statement at the time.

After the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state, the Supreme Court deemed the religious monument was unconstitutional since it had been erected on government grounds.

This time around, the Satanic Temple has asked to join a lawsuit from the ACLU, which seeks to remove the latest Ten Commandments monument from the Arkansas capitol building. The ACLU requested the court block the Satanic Temple from joining its suit, however.

The group’s protests over religious monuments have virtually all been peaceful. Its website reads "The Satanic Temple holds to the basic premise that undue suffering is bad, and that which reduces suffering is good. We do not believe in symbolic 'evil.'"

On Thursday, just one demonstrator was removed from the area as they were yelling during the protest. Nearly 150 people continued the event as planned.

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