14:30 GMT20 February 2020
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    A group of Satanists has formally asked the state of Arkansas to place a satanic statue next to the planned Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds.

    In a petition to the Arkansas Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission, the Satanic Temple said its request for a statue of Baphomet – a half man, half goat with wings – is motivated by history, rather than religion.

    The group said the statue would serve as a memorial to "various historical witch hunts and homage to the persecuted free-thinkers and 'heretics' who helped inform American secular jurisprudence."

    The request comes in response to Arkansas legislation approved earlier this year, which has allowed for a privately donated Ten Commandments monument to be erected at the Capitol.

    The law asserts the secular nature of the Ten Commandments, stating that the monument represents "an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system" of the United States and Arkansas.

    The Satanic Temple has argued that by opening public grounds to private donations, the state has set a precedent that will prevent it from discriminating against other private donations.

    Last month, a request for another statue, one of Lord Hanuman by the Universal Society of Hinduism, was denied. Lawmakers said the act authorizing the Ten Commandments statue honored a legal document, not a religious document.

    The Satanic Temple wanted to put the statue in Oklahoma, but changed its mind after the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the Ten Commandments monument there was unconstitutional.

    Tags:
    Ten Commandments, Satanic Temple, Arkansas, United States, Oklahoma
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