The Satanic Temple held a “Rally for the First Amendment” at the Arkansas State Capitol Thursday and brought with them a statue known as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure associated with the group.
Members say the goal of taking the statue to the state capitol is “to support the First Amendment and religious plurality,” according to a news release.
The Satanic Temple is upset the Arkansas legislature approved putting a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds. Members filed a lawsuit to allow the statue of Baphomet to be put on the same grounds after lawmakers denied “a donation from The Satanic Temple,” the news release states.
“The event is intended to be an inclusive gathering where The Satanic Temple will be celebrating pluralism along with Christian and secular speakers,” Lucien Greaves, spokesman, and co-founder of the group said in a statement.
“People of many faiths will come together at the Capitol to reject the Arkansas State Legislature’s efforts to privilege one religion over others,” he continued.
State Sen. Jason Rapert (R-District 35), the lawmaker who sponsored the Arkansas Ten Commandments Monument Act, shared why the monument is important.
“The fact is, Act 1231 speaks for the people of Arkansas; it does not speak for Jason Rapert personally,” he said. “This is an act that’s duly passed. It was signed into law by the governor, and it states that we wanted to honor one of the largest influences on the historical and moral foundation of law in Western jurisprudence; in American jurisprudence.”
“And so we sponsored the Ten Commandments for that purpose; it was not for an overt religious purpose whatsoever,” Rapert continued.
He also issued a statement in response to Thursday’s rally.
“Our rights to build a monument were exercised through the electoral and legislative processes and have been upheld by the judicial system,” the state senator who is also an ordained minister said. “They are no less sacred than the freedoms of a shrill few, for whom legal and political rights are merely methods to fleece the gullible and entertain the cynical.”