“This is not a protest against the Ten Commandments. This is not a
protest of Satanists against Christians. This is not a protest of
secularists against believers. This is a rally for reason in the face of
prejudice, progress in the face of decline, liberty in the face of rising
theocracy, and toleration in the face of infantile tribalisms. This is an
opportunity for us to stand together, whatever our differences amongst
ourselves, and stand up for the principles that allow for a free exchange
of ideas and the free exercise of religious convictions.”
– Lucien Greaves
In terms of public interest (and resultant controversy), the Interfaith Rally hosted by The Satanic Temple in Little Rock, Arkansas, on August 16th will be certainly a hard one to top for 2018. After a very successful crowdfunding event, the 8ft statue of Baphomet left Salem headquarters for his very first public outing since the 2015 unveiling in Detroit.
The objective of the rally was to declare that Senator Stanley “Jason” Rapert and his Christian theocracy do not have a legitimate right to a monopoly in the public space, and that all religions and belief systems deserve equal representation under the law and the Constitution. To this end, the plurality of religious beliefs should also enjoy freedom of expression in the public space, and not just Rapert’s unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument that currently occupies a spot on the Little Rock Capitol grounds.
To this end, several speakers were invited to talk at the event, including Tonya Hartwick Burt of Gideon Internationals, Pastor Chad Jones of the Arkansas Progressive Christians, and Leewood Thomas of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. Representing the Satanic Temple on the stage were Sadie Satanas (National Council member and former chapter head of TST Santa Cruz), and TST co-founder Lucien Greaves.
Aside from a single unruly Christian protestor who was escorted away by police, the
proceedings were uninterrupted throughout their two-hour schedule. The presence of nearby Christian picketers was expected but of little note or consequence, and unsavory individuals from local white supremacist and Nazi outfits were also ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts to intimidate the participants.
Reactions to the event were widespread on an international scale and much also as expected, with Christian zealots lambasting it as an abomination, and Rapert fuming from his office that it’ll be a “cold day in hell” before Baphomet is allowed to take up residence next to his own precious monument. On the other hand, those of less religiously fanatical dispositions (and more reasonable minds) agreed that it was ultimately successful in imparting its message of diversity.
And so Baphomet returned to Salem, glorious yet unscathed (along with his intrepid
entourage). The point had been made and heard far and wide. The rally was a success.
The Satanic Temple’s intervenor in the joint lawsuit (vis a vis FFRF, ACLU et al) against the state of Arkansas is still in motion, with the final outcome of the battle yet to be conclusively decided.
Even should Baphomet not take up permanent residence at Little Rock, and the outcome of the prior 2014 lawsuit in Oklahoma is of any indication, the days of Jason Rapert’s beloved Ten Commandments monument certainly appear to be numbered.
On August 28, judges on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a motion to dismiss one of three pending lawsuits by the Satanic Temple against the state over its “informed consent” practices. In the unanimous ruling, they declared that the basis of their decision rested on the fact that the woman at the center of the case was not pregnant when the case was filed, and thus “lacks constitutional standing”. TST legal counsel Stuart du Haan noted that this not an unusual tactic on the part of the court and therefore is not cause for undue concern.
Representing the Satanic Temple in the case, attorney James MacNaughton noted that the court “did not have the wisdom to step up and address the issues”, instead preferring to have them “swept under the rug” by ignoring the actual merits of the case.
In statements to the press, Lucien Greaves was unfazed by this development and declared that it was “a mere prelude to victory”. The other pending lawsuits are still currently in motion at both state and federal levels (and in both cases the plaintiff was pregnant at the time of filing).
The Satanic Temple remains confident that the merits of the case will be appropriately
addressed, with the Missouri Supreme Court having previously declared in its October 3rd (2017) ruling that “this case raises real and substantial constitutional claims”.
The ongoing fight for justice and reason continues!