After some back-and-forth, a Minnesota city has revoked permission for a monument to Satan in a public park.
Belle Plaine officials nixed a permit for the monument, which was slated for a dedicated free speech zone in the city’s Veterans Memorial Park. Officials sanctioned the area for free expression after residents complained about a statue of a kneeling soldier and a cross, a symbol some said violated the separation of church and state.
In response, the Salem, Massachusetts–based Satanic Temple commissioned Albuquerque artist Chris Andres to design the memorial, which features an upside-down helmet atop a black cube etched with pentagrams. The piece is supposed to honor veterans who do not identify with any religion. The city approved the design, and agreed to help with installation. The sculpture, which was custom-designed to comply with city rules, would have been the nation’s first Satanic monument on public property.
The StarTribune reported the Satanists are seeking $35,000 in damages to cover the commission it paid to Andres for his work. Satanic Temple attorney Martin Flax claimed that Belle Plaine breached a contract and infringed on the temple’s First Amendment rights. The city’s counsel disputes this interpretation.
After a series of protests and counter-protests, the monument wasn’t allowed to go up at all, and the cross on the still-standing veteran’s memorial has been removed.
“We’re going to have a very difficult time finding another use for this,” temple co-founder Doug Mesner told the StarTribune. “It’s all at our loss.”