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The Satanic Temple temporarily placed a bronze statue of a goat-headed, winged creature called Baphomet at the Arkansas State Capitol during a rally to call for the removal of a Ten Commandments monument already mounted on Capitol grounds, reported religionnews.

 


 

Attendees of a first amendment rally held by the Satanic Temple in Little Rock wait for the unveiling of a statue of winged goat-creature Baphomet on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Little Rock, Ark. The Satanic Temple wants to install the statue on Capitol grounds as a symbol for religious freedom after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed in 2017.

Attendees of a first amendment rally held by the Satanic Temple in Little Rock wait for the unveiling of a statue of winged goat-creature Baphomet on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Little Rock, Ark. The Satanic Temple wants to install the statue on Capitol grounds as a symbol for religious freedom after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed in 2017. Hannah Grabenstein AP Photo

About 150 Satanists, atheists and Christians attended the First Amendment rally Thursday. The Satanic Temple says the Ten Commandments monument violates constitutional freedom of religion rights and that the installation of their 7 ½-foot-tall statue showing the 14th century idol seated and accompanied by smiling children would demonstrate religious tolerance.

 

 

Attendees of a first amendment rally held by the Satanic Temple listen to a speaker on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Little Rock, Ark. The Satanic Temple wants to install a statue of Baphomet, a winged-goat creature, on Capitol grounds as a symbol for religious freedom after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed in 2017.

Hannah Grabenstein AP Photo

 

“If you’re going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others, and if you don’t agree with that then let’s just not have any at all,” said Satanic Arkansas cofounder Ivy Forrester, a rally organizer.
Lucien Greaves, spokesman for the Satanic Temple, introduced Baphomet in front of the crowd that had come to celebrate the unveiling of the eight-foot monument. “Good people of Arkansas and supporters of religious liberty, I present to you Baphomet, the symbol of pluralism, legal equality, tolerance, free inquiry, freedom of conscience, and reconciliation,” said Greaves.

 


Greaves also went on to explain what erecting Baphomet means for both the Satanic Temple and for anyone supporting their action:

“We did not bring Baphomet here in hope of replacing the Ten Commandments monument. It is not the purpose of our monument or our efforts to erect this monument, to impugn or silence the beliefs of others… What we are asking for is only that the public square, these Capitol grounds, remain an area in which free speech, religious liberty, and equality under the law be respected by the holders of public office who swore to uphold those values.

“This is not a protest against the Ten Commandments. This is not a protest of Satanists vs. Christians. This is not a protest of secularists against believers. This is a rally for reason in the face of prejudice, progress in the face of decline, liberty in the face of rising theocracy, and toleration in the face of infantile tribalisms.”


 

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The statue of Baphomet can’t be installed under a 2017 state law that requires legislative sponsorship for consideration of any monument. The Satanist group removed the statue later Thursday.

 

 

Image result for Republican Sen. Jason Rapert

The Ten Commandments monument at the Arkansas Capitol was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jason Rapert and installed quietly in 2017. Less than 24 hours after its installation, a man drove his car into the monument, smashing it to pieces . The same man also destroyed a Ten Commandments monument outside Oklahoma’s state Capitol.

 

 

The Satanic Temple ended its campaign to install Baphomet there, after Oklahoma’s Supreme Court ruled the Ten Commandments monument was unconstitutional and it was taken down.

 

 

 

Baphomet Protesters

Photo Arkansas Times/Facebook. Protesters and members of the Satanic Temple gather in front of the Arkansas State Capitol for the unveiling of the Baphomet monument.

Rapert said in an online statement that he respects the protesters’ First Amendment rights, but also called them “extremists” and said “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.”

 

 

People hold signs with Bible verses to protest the Satanic Temple’s unveiling of its statue of winged-goat creature Baphomet in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. The Satanic Temple wants to install the statue on Capitol grounds as a symbol for religious freedom after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed in 2017.

Hannah Grabenstein AP Photo

 

There was a significant police presence at the peaceful rally. A small group of counter-protesters holding signs with Bible verses stood quietly nearby, occasionally singing Christian songs.

 

 

One speaker — a Christian minister — was interrupted by a yelling counter-protester, but police escorted the man who was holding a large wooden stick away from the stage.
The Satanic Temple wants to join a religious discrimination lawsuit against Arkansas brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. A judge has to yet rule on whether the Satanists can join the case.

 

 

The Satanic Temple unveils its statue of Baphomet, a winged-goat creature, at a rally for the first amendment in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. The Satanic Temple wants to install the statue on Capitol grounds as a symbol for religious freedom after a monument of the Biblical Ten Commandments was installed in 2017. (AP Photo/Hannah Grabenstein)

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