Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Satanists Step Up to Save the Nation from Itself

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Over at the Commercial-Appeal, you can read about how the Satanists are trying to get a monument on the Oklahoma statehouse steps.

The Republican-controlled Legislature in this state known as the buckle of the Bible Belt authorized the privately funded Ten Commandments monument in 2009, and it was placed on the Capitol grounds last year despite criticism from legal experts who questioned its constitutionality. The Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking its removal.

But the New York-based Satanic Temple saw an opportunity. It notified the state's Capitol Preservation Commission that it wants to donate a monument and plans to submit one of several possible designs this month, said Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the temple.

This is the exact result anyone who thought about this for two seconds could have told Oklahoma was going to happen — if you want to carve out a spot for the state to support your religious expression, you need to realize you're carving out a space for the state to support everyone's religious expression.

But it's especially important that it's the Satanists raising this challenge. First, even though Satanists are not the human-sacrificing creepy monsters depicted by popular culture, a lot of people think they are. So, they force Oklahoma to confront just what true state-sponsored religious expression means. You really want a Satanic monument by the Statehouse? Second, though I'm sure there are going to be people who complain that these are just out-of-towners raising problems that no one in the state has, people not from Oklahoma don't face the same kind of backlash religious minorities in Oklahoma face. A group of Oklahoma Wiccans might want a pentagram next to the Ten Commandments, but coming forward to arrange for one leaves them vulnerable to reprisals. The Satanic Temple's followers, even the ones in Oklahoma, can funnel their support for the project through New York and remain anonymous.

But most importantly, Satanists are, by and large, white. So, they subvert the whole "But those people with their "weird" religions aren't really true Americans anyway, so who cares if we piss them off?" dynamic. It's a great example of using your presence in a group as a way to subvert the stupidity of the group.

A victory for the Satanists is a victory for all of Oklahoma's religious minorities. But the Satanists being the ones being the public face of this fight — forcing everyone to decide whether the state should be in the religious monument displaying business at all — is important and commendable.

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