It may seem absurd - or given the moral state of the nation, appropriate -- but the grounds committee for the Oklahoma State Capitol, the Preservation Commission, has been asked by The Satanic Temple, a group from New York, to place a privately funded statue of Satan, complete with pentagram and two fawning children at Lucifer's knee, on the Capitol grounds near a monument of the Ten Commandments.
In the statue, which is to be cast in bronze and is near completion, Satan is depicted as "Baphomet" with a goat's head and horns, and there is a boy on his left and a girl on his right.
"We decided to go with that because it is a fairly traditional character," Lucien Greaves, spokesman for The Satanic Temple, told KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City. "It also offers a lap that visitors can come to sit on, have their picture taken with."
As for the children in the statue, Greaves told CNSNews.com by e-mail, "We feel very strongly for the defense of children, and we specifically set out to make a monument that would be child-friendly."
He also said The Satanic Temple has launched a campaign against corporal punishment and solitary confinement in schools, the Protect Children Project, and has declared next Thursday, May 15, the "Protect Children Day."
Alex Weintz, communications director for the office of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, told CNSNews.com in an email, "There will never be a satanic monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol and the suggestion that there might be is absurd."
The Satanic Temple decided to request a permit for the Baphomet statue after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol in November 2012. That monument, also privately funded, was donated by Dr. Mike Ritze, who is a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Because the Ten Commandments monument was donated, no public monies used, the State Legislature had authorized the Capitol Preservation Commission to assist the donors in selecting an appropriate site for its placement.
Given that privately funded monuments would be considered, The Satanic Temple submitted its statue-design to the Preservation Commission in December.
However, in August, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Foundation filed a lawsuit to have the Ten Commandments removed, arguing that it violates the state's constitution and conveys "state endorsement and support" of an "explicitly religious message" on public property.
As a result of that ongoing lawsuit and until it is settled, no new monuments are being erected on the Capitol grounds.
"[T]he 10 Commandments still stand at the State Capitol," said Lucien Greaves. "We are fully willing to place our monument at the Capitol, even while the ACLU suit is fought, with the understanding that a judgment against the 10 Commandments will have ramifications for our monument as well, likely resulting in the removal of both. If Oklahoma wants to take down their 10 Commandments in the interim, only then do we lose the grounding on which we make our case."
Greaves also said that if the Capitol Preservation Committee denies The Satanic Temple's permit for a monument to Satan, his group will consider legal action. "Yes. They clearly have the real estate to accommodate our monument and, in fact before we offered to donate our monument, Oklahoma replied to the suit brought against them by the ACLU with the claim that they intended the 10 Commandments to be only the first in what was envisioned to be an eventual monument park," said Greaves.
As for why it is important to erect a statue of Lucifer next to the Ten Commandments, Greaves said, "We would have never suggested that a Satanic monument should be represented on Capitol grounds if it weren't for the fact that the 10 Commandments were already there. The idea of a solitary monument, related to any one religion, standing on Capitol grounds is offensive. "
"In Oklahoma, there is already a religious monument at the Capitol," said Greaves. "From The Satanic Temple's point of view, it is far better to have multiple viewpoints represented than to allow one single religion to feed a perception that they've co-opted the power and authority of the government."
The Satanic Temple spokesman further said that the proposed statue was no more a publicity stunt than the Ten Commandments monument.
"The central image we have chosen in our monument design is known as 'Baphomet,' a goat-headed, angel-winged, androgynous creature first rendered in its most widely recognized form by occult historian Eliphas Levi in the 19th century," said Greaves.
"Our monument will stand in honor of those unjustly accused, the slandered minority, the maligned out-groups, so that we might pay respect to their memory and celebrate our progress as a pluralistic nation founded on secular law."