Nontheistic religion and political activist group The Satanic Temple placed a seven and a half foot tall statue of the winged goat-headed deity Baphomet at the Arkansas State Capitol on Thursday in protest of the already mounted Ten Commandments monument, which the Salem-based group says is a blatant violation of constitutional freedom of religion rights.
“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,” Ivy Forrester with Satanic Arkansas said.
The 7-1/2 foot tall bronze statue of Baphomet arrived via truck and was temporarily set into place before it was finally unveiled at the bottom of the Capitol steps. However, Arkansas state law prohibits such statues and monuments from being erected into place without legislative approval so the statue was removed later in the day after making its brief appearance.
The stunt drew about 150 activists from all sides of the religious spectrum, including atheists, who attended the rally either to protest or in support of the deity which the Knights Templar were also thought to have once worshipped.
The Senator Jason Rapert-sponsored Ten Commandments monument remained cordoned off with rope throughout the duration of the rally shielding it from vandalism due to the fact that the monument was struck by a vehicle driven by an activist in 2017 just hours after its installation. Moreover, the same activist reportedly smashed the Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma which ultimately paved way for The Satanic Temple to win its legal battle with the state after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the monument was unconstitutional and ordered its removal.
Needless to say, the same satanic organization is currently seeking to join a similar lawsuit against the State of Arkansas brought on by the American Civil Liberties Union which Senator Jason Rapert (R-AR) isn’t too happy about.
“The Satanic Temple is nothing more than a group of pranksters who go around and take advantage of gullible people in the country and try and raise funds and promote the profane and that’s what they’ve done,” the Republican Senator told CBS News in an exclusive interview. “The person that leads the group uses a fake name and he has a history of this.”
“Under the First Amendment everyone has a right to free speech and we respect that even people that disagree — I’m open for that but also we have the freedom of speech, I personally as an individual and the people of Arkansas, to disagree with your profane statements and your false claims against the people of Arkansas and the attack and really a war on the Ten Commandments,” he explained.
The Satanic Temple founder Ivy Forrester fired back at Senator Rapert during his speech at the Capitol on Thursday claiming that the Arkansas senator’s actions are meant to do nothing more than intimidate.
“Senator Rapert will tell you that our monument is under attack by Christianity but then Senator Rapert also once described a gay pride parade as one of the most offensive displays against Christians in an attempt to intimidate people to believe in the word of God,” Forrester explained. “These are not the words of a man to act with the maturity of mind to act with the sense of detached sense of jurisprudence befitting of a public office holder.”
The founder went on to say that the senator believes that the Tem Commandments monument is “not a religious monument” but is rather “a monument celebrating the heritage and history of American law.”
“If he were to make this claim in earnest it would indicate that he is as unqualified to hold the title of minister as he is to hold the office of senator,” Forrester said garnering cheers from his crowd of followers.
But Senator Rapert claims what some of what Forrester’s group are doing is “attacking Judeo-Christian heritage of the country.”
The Senator referenced the infamous Van Orden v. Perry case in which the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that it was constitutional to display the Tem Commandments on a monument in Austin.
“The Van Orden v. Perry case states that yes Texas has a right to put up the Ten Commandments monument and they even laid out in the case itself, the chief justice made reference to the Ten Commandments that’s on the lower left and the lower right of the doors entering the Supreme Court chambers in Washington D.C.,” Sen. Rapert explained. “I was there just a few days ago. I went in I looked at those Ten Commandments I took a picture of them and then just above the head of the chief justice is Moses himself. So the bottom line is the U.S. Supreme Court displays the Ten Commandments the State of Texas displays the Ten Commandments, I’ve personally been to visit the Ten Commandments monument in Colorado and in Arizona and I’m told that Missouri has the very same. If the Ten Commandments monument is good enough for all of those state capitols and the United States Supreme Court, Sir, then it’s good enough for the people of Arkansas and we will defend the law.”
During his speech, The Satanic Temple founder dismissed the Senator’s claim in which he linked the Ten Commandments to Moses’s image on the doors of the Supreme Court when he pointed out to the crowd that Moses is depicted amongst a number of other influential people from history such as “Napoleon, Confusious, and Mohamed.”
Additionally, the outspoken satanist said that the senator is mistaken with his reference to the Roman numerals one through ten displayed inside the Supreme Court chambers as being linked to the Ten Commandments and said that the numerals are merely referring to the “Bill of Rights.”
And so goes the battle.