LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Satanic Temple briefly unveiled a monument of Baphomet, a winged, goat-headed creature, on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol on Thursday.
The Satanic Temple wants to install the statue on Capitol grounds as a symbol for religious freedom after a monument of the Biblical Ten Commandments was installed in 2017.
In May, the ACLU sued the state over the Ten Commandments monument on behalf of four Arkansas women. Lawyers argue it violates religious liberty supported under the First Amendment.
The women represented in the lawsuit are all part of the same cycling club; one identifies as an atheist and the three others identify as agnostic. They claim their First Amendment rights are violated when they ride past the statue on their normal bike routes.
“As someone who is agnostic, this endorsement by the state of one religious belief over my own makes me feel like a second-class citizen,” said Donna Cave, a retired teacher represented in the lawsuit. “Government officials shouldn’t be in the business of dividing people along religious lines -- they should represent everyone.”
Lucien Greaves, spokesman and co-founder of the Satanic Temple, told the Huffington Post that Thursday’s rally was for “all people who hold sacred the founding Constitutional principles of religious freedom and free expression.”
“What we are asking for is only that the public square remain an area where free speech, religious liberty and equality under the law be respected by the holders of public office who swore to uphold those values,” Greaves said.
Arkansas Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert, a minister and sponsor of the law supporting the Ten Commandments monument, told KTHV it will be a “very cold day in hell” before the Baphomet statue would be permanently installed in Little Rock.
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