The Story: Members of a Satanic Temple have unveiled their design for a 7-foot-tall statue of the devil they want to locate at the Capitol building in Oklahoma, right next to a monument of the Ten Commandments that has stood since 2012.
The Background: According to the Associated Press, the Republican-controlled Legislature in Oklahoma 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. 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.”
Greaves said one potential design involves a pentagram, a satanic symbol, while another is meant to be an interactive display for children. He said he expects the monument, if approved by Oklahoma officials, would cost about $20,000.
Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, who spearheaded the push for the Ten Commandments monument and whose family helped pay the $10,000 for its construction, declined to 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,” Greaves said. “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.”
Why It Matters:How concerned should Christians be about this display? The fact is, we should have seen this coming. Arguing for Christian symbols in the public square on the basis of historical tradition merely opens us up to the furtherance of new traditions—many traditions we won’t like. This is an example of an opening to views of a subculture of American society that despises Christianity and wishes for it to have zero influence in the wider culture. The appeal to fairness, equal access, and freedom to practice religion is protection for all worldviews in a pluralistic society like ours. We need to come to grips with that.
But in my opinion, here’s the real story. Christians are eager to respond to these types of material depictions of Satan, often more eager to do that than respond to the godless ideas that are at the foundation of these depictions. This is an indictment of the Christian mind. Christians are naturally repulsed by an image that appears to have demonic horns and loving on children. Yet how much do we understand the impact of such demonic beliefs on the lives and souls of those who follow pagan religions? This symbol in and of itself has only symbolic power, but unless Christians are capable of refuting the ideas behind this and similar imagery, what benefit is it to concern ourselves with this monument at all?
Rather than being offended by what seems to be an invasion of our space, we need to commit ourselves to a godly response to the underlying ideas that are finding a platform. The proliferation of this kind of imagery should be a warning to the Church that we’re not effectively communicating the message of sin and redemption or the intellectual superiority of Christianity over other worldviews as well as we might think.
The media isn’t fully to blame for what they report, for we need to give them a reason to say something else. What would be an exciting turn of events would be if instead of the media reporting on the offense taken by Christians over the erection of satanic monument, they could report on our purposeful, meaningful response to the ideas being furthered by groups like the Satanic Temple.