Just in time for the holidays, the Chicago chapter of the Satanic Temple has unveiled its own display for the Illinois Statehouse rotunda in Springfield. Joining this year’s nativity scene and Hanukkah menorah is a black monument to knowledge: Snaketivity, a four-and-a-half-foot-tall sculpture of a woman’s arm with a snake coiled around it, offering up an apple to passersby. A plaque below reads “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift.” The Satanic Temple isn’t a religious organization and doesn’t believe in the existence of Satan as a real being (and went so far as to sue Netflix over the use of Baphomet statue in the Sabrina reboot for implying it possessed magical powers). Instead, the Temple is trying to throw off what it calls “religious tyranny” by countering traditional religious iconography in public spaces and politics. Lex Manticore, leader of the Temple's Chicago chapter, told the State Journal Register that pursuing knowledge was "the greatest individual pursuit of bettering yourself, and we believe that you should basically act with the best scientific understanding of the world when you make decisions.” A sign hung in the rotunda explains that the state didn’t have much of a choice in allowing the statue. “The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public displays in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars. Because the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays. The United States Supreme Court has held that public officials may legally impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions regarding displays and speeches, but no regulation can be based on the content of the speech.” This isn’t the first time that the Satanic Temple has attempted to co-opt religious iconography to prove a point about the prevalence of religious symbols in public life. Last December, the group was rebuffed in its attempts to install a non-denominational, but still pretty Satanic looking, memorial to fallen veterans in Belle Plaine, Minnesota. The Satanic Temple later sued to cover the cost of the artwork, claiming its First Amendment rights were being violated.
Posts tagged with "Satan":
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.”