A Satanic group is looking to counterbalance the presence of a Ten Commandments display outside the Oklahoma state capitol with a monument of its own -- a so called "homage" to Satan.
The Satanic Temple, a New York City-based religious group, officially offered a monument to the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission, a committee that manages the capitol's grounds, according to a press release put out by the religious group.
It is unclear what messages or symbols The Satanic Temple's display would include.
Spokesperson Lucien Greaves told Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta this week that the commission has already responded to the proposal, which the government received on Nov. 21.
"I can happily report that we have very recently heard back from the commission," Greaves said. "The representative was extremely polite and friendly and sent us the form needed to accompany the design for our proposed monument."
A Ten Commandments monument erected outside the Oklahoma state Capitol is shown on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (Credit: Sean Murphy/AP)
The government allowed the Ten Commandments display on the premises back in 2012 when it was donated by Mike Ritze, a representative in the state legislature. The American Civil Liberties Union has since taken aim at it and sued for its removal, as press release noted.
Now, Satanists are hoping that their effort will help prove whether viewpoint discrimination is at play.
"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," said Greaves. "We imagine that the ACLU would also embrace such a response."
If the monument is accepted, the press release proclaims that it would prove the commission doesn't discriminate. A rejection, of course, would likely only add fuel to the debate surrounding the Ten Commandments display.
If the project is green lighted, The Satanist Temple will invite the public to submit and vote on designs.
"We have several designs in mind, and we are willing to adjust our monument to fit whatever pre-existing structural specifications they may require," Lucien told Mehta.
Pinpointing The Satanic Temple's beliefs is difficult, as they appear philosophical in nature and ideologically complex. While the group's website uses words like "hail Satan," Lucien told Mehta that, "Satan, to us, is symbolic of our rejection of tyranny, and we bow to no God or gods."
A woman takes a picture of a granite monument engraved with the Ten Commandments after it was erected on the north side of the state Capitol grounds in Oklahoma City. (Credit: Jim Beckel/AP)
It is unclear whether the organization believes that Satan is a literal entity or if they merely revere what he represents. The organization provides more about its theology:
Satanism is not mindless abandon and depravity, but a philosophy that drives us to lead fruitful and dignified, epicurean lives. Satan, the symbolic force of design that would urge humanity toward refined pleasures of the Arts and Sciences. Satan, who first brought the fruit of knowledge to Humankind that thereafter we might live not as naked brutes in the wild, but develop our cultural splendor into ever more aesthetically and technologically advanced heights. Ours is the Humanistic Satan who would sacrifice His own Heavenly residence so that Humanity might learn to understand and enjoy the physical world they inhabit.
A screen shot from the Satanic Temple website
It is unclear if the Satanist monument will officially be accepted and erected. In the meantime, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Ten Commandments display back in August, charging that it "has created a more divisive and hostile state for many Oklahomans."
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing in hopes that it will inevitably be removed.