Lots of lawmakers have been accused of devilish behavior, but Oklahoma's state capitol may become the first to actually have a monument to Satan.
If a New York-based group called the Temple of Satan gets
its way, a statue of the Evil One would sit next to the recently erected
10 Commandments monument on state capitol grounds.
they wanted to be open to different monuments," said Lucien Greaves, a
spokesman for the Temple of Satan, "and this seems like a perfect place
to put that to the test."
Greaves and some legal experts say the
Constitution is clear: the government can't endorse one particular
religion. So, if a state capitol has a monument to one faith, it must
allow monuments to others as well.
The Temple of Satan is less a
religious body organized around rituals and regular meetings than a
roving band of political provocateurs, said Greaves. They believe Satan
is a "literary construct," the spokesman said, not an actual being with
horns and hooves.
Last year, the Temple organized a gay and
lesbian kiss-in at the gravesite of the mother of anti-gay preacher and
activist the Rev. Fred Phelps. It also held a rally at Florida's state
capitol in support of a law that allows "inspirational messages" at
public school assemblies.
"It allows us to spread the message of
Satanism," which centers around respect for diversity and religious
minorities, said Greaves.
Oklahoma legislators voted to erect the
Ten Commandments monument in 2009, using private funds donated by Rep.
Mike Rietz, a surgeon and Southern Baptist deacon.