Activists pushing for the construction of religious monuments on public property may have a tough pill to swallow in Oklahoma this year. If state law allows one group to build a spiritual tribute, the state may be forced to extend that privilege to folks with all kinds of beliefs.
Vice Magazine reporter Jonathan Smith was offered a preview of a new memorial proposed by The Satanic Temple, a group that filed a formal application for the statue’s placement next to a Ten Commandments tribute at the Oklahoma State House.
The statue is a direct response to the state's installation of a Ten Commandments monument outside the Capitol in 2012. State Representative Mike Ritze paid for the controversial statue with his own money, and therefore it was considered a donation and OK to place on government property. Following that line of reasoning, the Satanic Temple submitted a formal application for their monument.
The Baphomet, which will stand seven feet tall and be a testament to the glory of the Angel of the Bottomless Pit, would be placed directly beside the sculpture glorifying the laws given to Moses by the Christian God. The idea of a Satanic monument sitting on government property in Oklahoma -- which is like the Bible Belt's Bible Belt -- seems a bit far-fetched, but Greaves says that "there has been quite a bit of discussion among legal scholars who recognize how difficult it would actually be for Oklahoma to turn us down... Constitutional law is quite clear on this issue: The state can't discriminate against viewpoints. If they've opened the door for one, they've opened it for all."
Whether or not the state will be forced to grant the proposal to build the statue remains to be seen. The state suspended its application process pending the outcome of an ACLU lawsuit which claims the state’s Ten Commandments monument is unconstitutional.Caesar can be reached at Christopher.Caesar@globe.com or via Twitter @ChrisCaesar.