Visitors to Oklahoma’s State Capitol may soon have to abandon all hope.
Following a flurry of press coverage this week, an Indiegogo campaign soliciting money to erect a satanic monument in Oklahoma City has reached its funding goal. The campaign was launched by the group Satanic Temple, which wants to place a 7-foot-tall sculpture of the mythical fallen angel alongside a monument depicting the Ten Commandments. With 11 days to go, group raised its $20,000 goal on Tuesday afternoon. Many of its backers kicked in cash over the last several hours.
“This monument will be built,” the Satanists posted confidently on their Facebook page early Tuesday, as the campaign had begun to pick up steam.
The monument is a protest of sorts to the Ten Commandments display, which was erected in 2012 and which has so far survived efforts by Oklahoma chapter of the ACLU to have it removed. The civil-liberties group argues that the Christian display, which was privately funded but sits on city-owned property, violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
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“The monument’s placement at the Capitol has created a more divisive and hostile state for many Oklahomans,” said the ACLU of Oklahoma’s executive director, Ryan Kiesel, in a statement. “When the government literally puts one faith on a pedestal, it sends a strong message to Oklahomans of other faiths that they are less than equal.”
For its part, the Satanic Temple says it is an established religious organization that deserves equal time with the Ten Commandments (more if you consider that the statue of Satan would be a foot taller than the Christian monument). The group does not claim to worship a literal Lucifer but rather views Satan as a metaphor for challenging tyranny. The group writes on its website that embracing Satan is akin to avowing skepticism in the face of all things, especially those held most sacred.
On Monday, the group submitted its application to the panel that supervises the Capitol grounds, the AP reported. The application included an artist’s rendering of a goat-headed Satan with long horns, wings and hoofed feet (a deity known as Baphomet that has since been adopted as a symbol for the Church of Satan). The Satanists say the monument is tasteful enough for all to enjoy. “We are keenly attune to the need for a public-friendly design and plan is to make our monument an object of play for young children,” the group writes on its campaign. “The Satanic Temple is accepting donations toward the production and placement of this historic and important monument to religious diversity.”
As news of the project spread across social media, most of the postings on Facebook and Twitter expressed support for the Satanists’ right to erect the monument. However, there was no shortage of detractors as well. “I will be one of many who will fight to keep your disgusting piece of garbage away from my state, my home, where my kids live, and numerous others who don’t want it here,” one person wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “You are wasting your time trying. There are many more of us than there are of you.”
While the Satanists insist the monument will be consistent with community standards, it’s unclear if the panel will agree. Last month, the Satanic Temple was told it could not put up a satanic holiday display at the Florida Capitol rotunda in Tallahassee, after the display was deemed to be “grossly offensive during the holiday season.”
If nothing else, the project is yet another testament to the power of crowdfunding, where Beelzebub hasn’t always fared so well in the past. One Indiegogo project to build a church dedicated to Satan raised exactly zero dollars on a $150,000 goal. While it sounded like a good idea, maybe the devil was in the details.