Satanists in Illinois erected a grotesque statue in the state Capitol this winter to stand beside a Christmas display and menorah.
The group, which sues repeatedly to overturn pro-life laws, claimed religious freedom rights to defend the public display of its statue, the Catholic News Agency reports.
In November, the Satanic Temple’s Illinois branch began fundraising for the “Snaketivity” project. Its stated goal was to bring “a message to the Illinois state capitol that religious freedom means freedom of representation for ALL religions … not just the ones that don’t offend Christians,” according to Bustle.
The Satanists’ statue depicts a black and red arm with a snake coiled up around it. In the palm of the hand is an apple and underneath it is the quote, “Knowledge is the greatest gift,” and the Satanists’ symbol. It is a reference to the fall of humankind in Judaism and Christianity. Satan, in the form of a snake, tempts the first man and woman on earth with fruit from the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil. They eat it, allowing evil to enter the world.
The Satanic Temple claims it does not worship Satan, but instead is a “nontheistic organization” that “does not forward supernatural theories of the universe.”
The Capitol rotunda also has a Nativity scene and a menorah on display.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) December 5, 2018
Illinois government officials explained why they allowed the statue to be erected: “The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public displays in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars. Because the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays.”
The statement also is posted in the rotunda near the displays.
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As the Satanists probably hoped, the display has attracted a lot of national attention.
Radio host Mike Slater recently told Fox & Friends that the project makes him feel sad more than anything.
“I think this is a sign of how prosperous we are here in America — Where these people don’t think they need God and they get their kicks out of mocking God,” Slater said. “They get their kicks out of mocking this religion and mocking Christmas in general.”
He later added: “A friend of mine just got back from a Middle Eastern country and he had to go to underground churches where they had one Bible and truly, if they got caught, they would be killed. So, the people over there aren’t worshiping Satan openly so it’s a shame that Americans here are abusing the freedoms here when they could be worshiping God.”
The Satanists group is well-known for attacking pro-life laws and mocking sidewalk counselors. They recently sued Missouri over its informed consent law, claiming it trampled on Satanist “Mary Doe’s” religious rights by requiring that she undergo an ultrasound and receive information about her unborn baby’s development, abortion risks and alternatives to abortion.
The Satanists have attacked other state informed consent laws, too. In 2015, one of its leaders wrote a blog about aborting her unborn baby to attack abortion regulations in Michigan. She called her unborn baby’s abortion death “surreal.”
The Satanic Temple also mercilessly mocks and attempts to intimidate peaceful pro-life sidewalk counselors through gruesome protests. In April 2016, pro-life advocates outside of a Detroit, Michigan Planned Parenthood faced a disturbing scene when a group from the Satanic Temple arrived to counter-protest wearing baby masks and carrying whips. They held a similar protest on Good Friday in 2017.
Breitbart described the Satanic Temple’s actions as a “pro-abortion crusade to come to the aid of America’s largest abortion provider,” Planned Parenthood.