Who Knew Religious Freedom Included Satanists? Certainly Not Legislators Sworn to Uphold It!

Posted: December 19, 2013 in religion
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This is another story that I think is better told by The Friendly Atheist and then going to WND for commentary. Otherwise, you lose the important context. Here are the three TFA posts that are relevant, from December 4 and 10, 2013:

Let’s review the basics: In the USA, the First Amendment to the US Constitution requires that the government remain religiously neutral, that they cannot establish or hold one religion above another. Of course, many Christians think that this is just a wink-wink-nudge-nudge that THEIR religion DOES get special treatment, and that no others may be held equal to or above it. But, what the First Amendment means, and what it has been time-and-again held to require by the court system, is that when one religion has a favored position, other religions MUST be allowed to have the same type of position, in equal prominence.

So right now, we have:

The Satanic Temple, an established New York City-based religious organization, has offered to donate a public monument to Oklahoma’s Capitol Preservation Commission for display upon Oklahoma City’s capitol grounds. Described as an “homage” to Satan, the purpose of the monument is to complement and contrast the Ten Commandments monument that already resides on the North side of the building. The donation offer has been submitted and is currently awaiting the commission’s reply.

Ten Commandments Outside the Oklahoma Capitol

Ten Commandments Outside the Oklahoma Capitol

TFA has an interview with the Satanic Temple at that first link, and I recommend reading it if you’re interested in this. In the second article, we have this:

A week after the Satanic Temple said they wanted to put up a monument outside the Oklahoma Capitol building (in response to a Ten Commandments monument already on the grounds), a Hindu group is following in their footsteps. […]

The lawmakers in Oklahoma brought this upon themselves. If they wanted a Christian monument, they should’ve known that others would ask for representation of their religious beliefs, too. I guess they didn’t anticipate that the requests would come from normally silent groups.

Moving on, I highly recommend reading the last in the list of TFA posts. I’ll quote just a bit that I liked the most:

When a Christian display is allowed on government property, you might as well take advantage of the floodgates being open and demand a display of your own. Along the way, if legislators decide to ban religious and non-religious displays altogether, that’s just too damn bad… and if they ban your display, it’s an easy victory in court.

Oklahoma legislators are aware that the Satanists want to erect their own monument and they have no clue how to respond, so they’re just putting their collective foot in their mouth and crying “Christian privilege!” left and right:

“This is a faith-based nation and a faith-based state,” said Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. “I think it is very offensive they would contemplate or even have this kind of conversation.”

Yes, how dare non-Christian groups contemplate using their First Amendment rights?! It’s totally a faith-based nation… even though nearly 20% of Americans use no religious label and even though our Constitution says it wouldn’t matter if 100% of them did. […]

“It is not going to get approved here without a court battle,” said Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove. “I can assure you.”

… a statement no politician has ever said to a Christian group wanting to put a Ten Commandments monument.

“I am somewhat disappointed we are facing this sort of thing,” said Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa. “We sort of knew this might happen. I know nothing of about this group. I have never heard of them. I think we opened the door and have to have a process to have it vetted.”

That may be the worst one of them all. We sort of figured other groups might want to take advantage of this opportunity, but I just can’t believe any of them actually did!

The story is almost good enough on its own, but this is the “WND Watch” blog, so what does World Net Daily think about it? They ended up doing two posts on the subject, but they were only the normal three-paragraph clips from other sources. The first was on December 8 from The Guardian, and the second was from ABC News and was posted on December 10: “Satanists Plan Statue Next to Ten Commandments,” and “Satanic Monument to Have Interactive Display for Kids?” The first has received 7 ratings (4.43/5) and 29 comments, and the second has garnered 5 ratings (3.80/5) and 17 comments.

Very, very surprisingly, the top-rated comment on the first post is by “American Standard” who got 19 up-votes and zero down-votes: “If you want faith in the public square you have to be prepared to accept all faiths in it.” What is a sane, reasonable, and competent comment doing on WND … and what is it doing as the highest-rated comment!? I’m actually thinking that the post was linked to on some popular atheist-leaning blog considering that all the top-rated comments are along this line.

We have to go down to comments like from “kingdad” with only 2 up-votes before typical WND thoughts start to come through: “I guess they might have the Right to do this, but that doesn’t make it right.
I would suggest the re-enactment of the opening Moments of the “Simpsons” Show where the two young men are disfiguring the “Big-uns” Statue. I’m sure such a lawless act of vandalism might be overlooked in this case. Since it is for the Public Good. That or a nightly egg toss to help decorate that Statue.”

Or, a comment from “Pi10107” with 2 up-votes: “I’m praying that lightning will strike the Satanists monument shattering it into tiny particles while leaving the Ten Commandments completely untouched.” And yet, the top-rated response to him was 7 up-votes and 1 down-vote, by “Shermer” who wrote, “I think you will be disappointed, but please keep us updated.”

On the second WND post, however, we get the typical WND thinking. “kingdad,” for example, has the highest-rated comment with 8 up-votes and 0 down: “Just another Satanic Object for Happy Pigeons to poop on! Dog’s to pee on! and People to Vandalize! Those Satanist will have to work overtime to keep that monument even standing much less free from fecal matter.”

Edited to Add (December 21, 2013): Another TFA post, pointing out that Oklahoma State Capitol officials have called a moratorium on all additional monuments. As Hemant put it, “we’re not saying yes or no to any of these other monuments because we’re already dealing with a lawsuit from the first one.” Though, “It’s interesting how the moratorium was declared now, even though the ACLU’s lawsuit was filed on August 20.”

Edited to Add (January 8, 2014): In “Satan Statue Unveiled for Oklahoma,” WND updates its readers.

  1. I think it’ll fly! No one even heard of satanists until the ’60s. Even then, after LaVey asserted his craziness, the media hopped aboard and when that happened the armed services used the publicity to keep everyone fighting and depressed. Oklahoma has always been depressed, so the fighting should be a distraction from that.

    The media will promote the statue. The military will promote the statue.

    What they want is a godless sameness is saneness state…and country.

    It is for this reason average citizens are expected to protect the state and it’s incompetent successors….just to relive the past.

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