21:45 GMT22 September 2020
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    The statue depicts a winged, goat-headed creature named Baphomet, which some among a local devout Christian community have blasted as “offensive.”

    The Satanic Temple has unveiled a statue of a demon in Arkansas’ state capitol, Little Rock, as part of a First Amendment rally to protest a Ten Commandments monument that had already been erected on the same Capitol grounds.

    Despite being a favorite of Satan worshippers, Baphomet’s public appearance was also cheered on by atheists and Christians. Protestors called for the removal of the Ten Commandments monument, arguing that its very presence was in violation of the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

    While the winged beast, which stands at an impressive eight-and-a-half feet tall, was only allowed to be displayed temporarily, the Satanists argued that locals and religious authorities should show tolerance and respect religious freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution by letting the statue remain there permanently.

    Ivy Forrester, the Satanic Arkansas co-founder, has been quoted as saying that, "if you're going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others, and if you don't agree with that then let's just not have any at all.

    Baphomet’s statue, which is accompanied by two smiling children, cannot be permanently installed under a 2017 law that requires legislative sponsorship for consideration of any such monument.

    The Ten Commandments monument was first erected last year after it was sponsored by Republican senator Jason Rapert. Mr. Rapert said he respected the Satanic protesters’ First Amendment rights to practice their religion, but also described them as “extremists.”

    With a twist of knowing irony, Mr. Rapert said that, “It will be a very cold day in hell before an offensive statue will be forced upon us to be permanently erected on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol.”

    The Satanic Temple has said that it plans to try and sue the state of Arkansas, claiming religious discrimination. However, when the temple tried to join a case the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had already brought against the state, the ACLU requested that the court bar the intervention.

    Overall, approximately 150 people are said to have attended the rally, with a large policy presence. While some of the counter-protestors are reported to have heckled the satanists, there were also a smaller group of Christian protestors who stood calmly by Baphomet, singing hymns from the Bible.



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    Satanism, constitution, Satanic Temple, Ivy Forrester, United States, Arkansas
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