This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard people talking about the Satanic Temple trying to have a statue of Baphomet installed on the Oklahoma state house lawn. Even more hilariously, the statue was intended to be placed next to a monument of the Ten Commandments as a representation of the United States Constitutional freedom to practice any religion, anywhere. Well, the statue is nearly complete, in spite of an alleged flood of concerned citizens writing to express their negative feelings towards it. According to a representative of the Temple, the state of Oklahoma has been suspiciously mum on the status of their request to actually install the statue, to the point that they’ve just filed a Freedom of Information Act request against the state on the full set of documentation regarding this case, because they feel they’re being denied paperwork and information that the state is legally obligated to provide on request.
Says Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves: “This isn’t a mere petty fight that exploits a legal loophole. The forthcoming battle for Oklahoma cuts to the heart of how we conceive of our rights as American citizens, how we interpret and respect our constitutional values of plurality and individual freedom…The message behind Baphoment is a reconciliation of the opposites, not this call to arms of one against one but a merging of the two. That’s part of the reason that it can only exist standing next to the Ten Commandments. That’s part of the message. We wouldn’t want to proselytize as a single voice in the public square.”
It’s an interesting issue, especially when put into context of what it actually stands for. The mythological purpose of Baphomet is to represent duality, but equality. Its hands point both upwards and downwards, it sports both a right-side and inverted pentagram, and historically both male and female anatomy. Hence, “As Above, So Below.” So, when the figure exists as a metaphor for balance among all things, it’s a nice, if a bit over the top statement on individual freedom and the widespread acceptance of that in a predominantly right-wing, Catholic state. It’s also really important to actually understand what the Satanic Temple stands for: they’re not worshipping the literal devil; it’s the present-day incarnation of LaVeyan Satanism, formed after its namesake’s death.
As their website will tell you, the Satanic Church is a pro-choice, pro-mental health awareness, anti-capital punishment organization that aims to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people. In addition, we embrace practical common sense and justice…to actively provide outreach, to lead by example, and to participate in public affairs wheresoever the issues might benefit from rational, Satanic insights. As Satanists, we all should be guided by our consciences to undertake noble pursuits guided by our individual wills. We believe that this is the hope of all mankind and the highest aspiration of humanity.” So, they basically just think that people should be accountable for themselves, which doesn’t sound all that bad, does it?
Vice has the full article detailing the rest of the proceedings, and you can see pictures of the nearly-finished Baphomet as well.