The Satanic Temple plans to unveil a large statue dedicated to the devil in the city of Detroit later this month, despite intensified protests by church leaders and residents that have caused the original venue to back out of the event.
Originally slated to be unveiled on July 25 at Bert’s Warehouse in Detroit before the venue canceled its involvement, the 9-foot bronze statue of Baphomet, a goatlike idol with a man’s body, horns and wings originally associated with the Knights Templar. The statue reportedly weighs one ton and is made of bronze.
On its website, the Satanic Temple said the state “is intended to complement and contrast the Ten Commandments monument that already resides on Oklahoma State Capitol grounds.”
“The statue will serve as a beacon calling for compassion and empathy among all living creatures. The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation,” temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in a statement earlier this year.
Although the statue was originally meant to stand alongside the 10 Commandments monument in Oklahoma, the state Supreme Court there recently ruled that the monument must be removed because government property cannot be used to show support for any religion. Now without a home for the statue, the Satanic Temple is considering applying for space near a 10 Commandments monument at the Arkansas State Capitol, according to Fox News.
“The message behind Baphomet is a reconciliation of the opposites, not this call to arms of one against one, but a merging of the two,” Director of the Detroit Satanic Temple chapter and national spokeswoman Jex Blackmore told Fox. “That’s part of the reason that it can only exist standing next to the Ten Commandments. That’s part of the message. We wouldn’t want to proselytize as a single voice in the public square.”
Until then, it’s planning a special unveiling in Detroit, home to the organization’s first chapter.
However, backlash from the community is making the event tougher to pull off than the group anticipated. Feeling the heat, Bert’s Warehouse pulled out of the event, leaving the Satanic Temple searching for another venue. The group told local WXYZ it was disappointed in the decision but that it still plans to continue with its unveiling on the same date at an unnamed location.
Local church leaders have banded together to oppose the statue and declared their intent to organize a protest on the same day the state is revealed.
“The last thing we need—in a city where we’re fighting against violence and fighting against economic problems and unemployment and the water crisis—is a statue dedicated to Satan right downtown,” Pastor David Bullock of the St. Matthew Baptist Church told Christian Today.
“They’re bringing a Baphomet statue to the city of Detroit valorising, elevating Satan. This is not even a real religion in my estimation,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Temple has marked the occasion as a special one, saying it will “serve as a call-to-arms” for the group to begin a fight “in the name of individual rights to free exercise against self-serving theocrats.”
A recent story by Vice News highlighted one aspect of this battle, describing the group’s effort to challenge laws restricting abortion on the grounds that such regulations actually violate a Temple member’s First Amendment right to freedom of religion. According to Vice, the Temple believes an individual’s body is “inviolable” and therefore only he or she can decide what to do with it. Because the group also believes a fetus is not a person, but rather “tissue that belongs to a woman,” it’s up to the woman and not the state to determine whether or not to keep it.
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