In the world of politics, differing viewpoints are guaranteed exposure in the public square due to the Equal Time Rule. But even that rule, overseen by the Federal Communications Commission, recognizes limits in its application of fairness. Only “major” political parties can be assured of a broadcast forum for their message.
Conservatives in Oklahoma City are hoping that the same argument can be applied to religion. Fox News writes that Satanists are seeking to erect a carved tribute of their own “god” next to one of the Ten Commandments monument on the Statehouse steps.
The Republican-controlled Legislature in this state known as the buckle of the Bible Belt authorized the privately funded Ten Commandments monument in 2009, and it was placed on the Capitol grounds last year despite criticism from legal experts who questioned its constitutionality. The Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking its removal.
But the New York-based Satanic Temple saw an opportunity. It notified the state’s Capitol Preservation Commission that it wants to donate a monument and plans to submit one of several possible designs this month, said Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the temple.
‘We believe that all monuments should be in good taste and consistent with community standards,’ Greaves wrote in letter to state officials. ‘Our proposed monument, as an homage to the historic/literary Satan, will certainly abide by these guidelines.’
So what do the Satan worshipers have in mind for their “homage”? One potential design cited by Greaves would include a pentagram, a satanic symbol, while another would serve as an interactive display for children. The monument, if approved by Oklahoma officials, would carry a price tag of about $20,000.
State Rep. Mike Ritze, who spearheaded the push for the Ten Commandments monument and whose family helped pay the $10,000 for its construction, declined comment on the Satanic Temple’s effort, but Greaves credited Ritze for opening the door to the group’s proposal.
He’s helping a satanic agenda grow more than any of us possibly could. You don’t walk around and see too many satanic temples around, but when you open the door to public spaces for us, that’s when you’re going to see us.
Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma, said that if state officials allow one type of religious expression, they must allow alternative forms of expression. He said a better solution would be to allow none at all on state property:
We would prefer to see Oklahoma’s government officials work to faithfully serve our communities and improve the lives of Oklahomans instead of erecting granite monuments to show us all how righteous they are. But if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple’s proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint.