Illustration via Lee DeVito
Early Tuesday morning, June 30th, I received word that the Oklahoma Supreme Court had ruled against the legality of a 10 Commandments monument currently residing on the state capitol grounds.
According to the ruling, the monument, only freshly erected, is unconstitutional and must now come down. The Satanic Temple, (TST) having fought to erect a ‘Baphomet’ monument alongside the 10 Commandments — in an effort to reassert plurality and Religious Freedom in the face of this flagrant breach of the line between Church and State — was soon credited by many as being instrumental in the Court’s decision. After all, it could not have been lost on the presiding judges that a ruling in favor of the 10 Commandments would necessitate their consideration of a suit in favor of Baphomet, and any rationale preserving the 10 Commandments could also be leveraged in TST’s favor.
Given the Court’s ruling, TST no longer has any interest in pursuing placement of the Baphomet monument
on Oklahoma’s Capitol grounds. The entire point of our effort was to offer a monument that would complement and contrast the 10 Commandments, reaffirming that we live in a nation that respects plurality, a nation that refuses to allow a single viewpoint to co-opt the power and authority of government institutions. This is the very essence of our explicitly secular Constitution. Any one religious monument on public grounds is intolerable. However, once one is allowed, it is orders of magnitude better that many should be represented, rather than a single voice claim unique privilege.
Proving himself as infantile as he is ignorant, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has already declared, in public temper-tantrums, that he will appeal the Court’s decision. Pruitt, either a complete liar or staggeringly miseducated, claims to believe
that the public Decalogue serves a secular function, and that “the court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law.” Pruitt, himself a devout Christian, conveniently fails to recognize the explicitly religious connotations of the counter-Constitutional, flagrantly theocratic and tyrannical ‘Thou Shalts’, which prohibit such American values as Free Speech (“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”) and Religious Liberty (“Thou shalt have no other gods before me”).
Now, of course, the question on everybody’s mind is: What will become of the Baphomet monument? Over 8 ft. tall and weighing over a ton, the massive, bronze sculptural masterpiece deserves a proper home.
Unfortunately, our insistence that Baphomet only be displayed to complement and contrast a pre-existing public monument of religious signification doesn’t limit our options nearly enough. Pruitt is far from alone in his clownish stupidity, and there are plenty of areas in the United States crying out for a counter-balance to existing graven tributes to archaic Abrahamic barbarism. Arkansas is looking rather appealing, as their Governor recently signed into law
a bill permitting placement of a tiresome generic granite Decalogue at their Capitol in Little Rock. The bill in question, authored by one Sen. Jason Rapert, appears plagiarized (in all its laughable historical inaccuracies and embarrassing, unlettered simplicity) from the very bill passed in the Oklahoma Legislature during their now-failed attempt justify their Capitol monument.
Hopefully, when all is said and done, TST will have helped to awaken within a generally lackadaisical public rightful disgust towards public officials — like Pruitt and Rapert — who so mindlessly and shamelessly pursue these infuriatingly unconstitutional undertakings at the expense of taxpayer dollars. The people of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and the world over, deserve better than to suffer politicians who fail to comprehend the very premise of their public duty: the duty to uphold an environment of viewpoint neutrality and plurality, where all people — whether Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Muslim, Satanist, or any “other” — can enjoy equal protection under the law, with preference for, and bigotry against, none.
Lucien Greaves is the pen name/pseudonym for Doug Mesner, spokesman for The Satanic Temple.