A New York-based group calling itself the Satanic Temple has raised over $9,000 from online crowdfunding donors to erect a statue of their deity outside the Oklahoma State Capitol building, right beside an existing monument to the Christian Ten Commandments. The crowdfunding campaign launched on Indiegogo last month, but the proposed statue design was just submitted to an Oklahoma state panel this week. It would feature a 7-foot-tall horned figure (Baphomet, a deity long associated with the Satanic movement) sitting on a throne and preaching to two children. And more importantly, it's an interactive statue. As Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucian Greaves explained to The Raw Story: "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."
"people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan."
Despite these devilish details, the organization claims the project is not just an elaborate prank, and points out they don't actually worship Satan, just the idea of free expression. In that vein, the statue is meant to counterbalance the Ten Commandments statue that was constructed outside the Oklahoma Capitol building in 2012, following years of controversy and debate. Critics of that older monument say it marks a de facto endorsement of Christianity by the state government and therefore violates the US Constitution's "establishment clause" against a national religion. "By accepting our offer, the good people of Oklahoma City will have the opportunity to show that they espouse the basic freedoms spelled out in the Constitution," the group's Indiegogo project site clarifies. For reference, the Satanic Temple also has a long history of these types of public demonstrations.
Of course, even if the group raises its target amount of $20,000 by December 17th, it's not clear that the Satanic Temple will ever be able to get the chance to build the statue. Oklahoma lawmakers are not exactly warm to the idea, rushing to enact a temporary ban on new monuments outside the Capitol building late last month. "I think it is very offensive they would contemplate or even have this kind of conversation," one Oklahoma lawmaker told The Raw Story. The Satanic Temple, though, is unswayed: "The decision by Oklahoma to impose a moratorium on new requests for monuments at the state Capitol means little to us, and our course of action remains the same," Greaves wrote on the group's Indiegogo page, arguing that his group's submission still counts because it was filed before the ban.