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story.lead_photo.caption Members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, a national Catholic organization, traveled from across Arkansas to gather Wednesday, Jan. 25 in Little Rock to protest against a proposed Satan statue for state grounds. ( Emma Pettit)

A subcommittee of the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission on Wednesday deemed the plans for a statue proposed by the Satanic Temple sufficient enough to move on to a public hearing phase.

The 10 subcommittee members met to consider a proposal submitted by the New York-based Satanic Temple to erect a 8.5-foot-tall bronze statue of Baphomet — a deity that is part man, part goat — on the state grounds. Lucien Greaves, a representative from the temple, briefly went over the construction plans and fielded a few questions.

The purpose of Wednesday’s meeting was to consider whether the application for the statue was sufficient, not whether it will or will not actually be placed on Capitol grounds, said Chief Deputy Secretary of State Kelly Boyd.

Members voted to approve the plans, and now the proposal must go through a public hearing, at which Arkansans can voice their opinions on the statue, Boyd said. That hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

Any monument erected on state grounds must be approved by the Legislature, so Boyd also suggested Greaves find a lawmaker to introduce a bill this session.

The Satanic Temple decided to put forth its proposal after Act 1231 of 2015, sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, was passed. That bill put in motion the construction of a monument commemorating the Ten Commandments to be built on Capitol grounds.

Subcommittee members previously decided the 6,000-pound statue built with private funds would be placed near the southwest corner leading to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The roughly 10-minute-long meeting took place as more than two dozen demonstrators waved banners, clutched rosaries and recited prayers in protest outside the Capitol Zoning District Commission building on Battery Street.

Members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, a national Catholic organization, traveled from across Arkansas to oppose a structure that gives the “devil a place of honor,” said Cesar Franco, a leader with the group from Texas.

“Americans are a God-fearing people,” Franco said, adding he and the group “repudiate” Satan’s works “with every ounce, with every fiber of our being.”

Franco led the group in a call-and-response, asking if they wanted a Ten Commandments statue and if they reject the Satanic Temple shrine. The answer to both questions from the crowd was yes.

About 30 protesters stood shoulder to shoulder, holding white posters with slogans such as “In God We Still Trust” and “Mary, Queen of the Angels, Crush Lucifer’s Head!” One demonstrator manned a blue and gold flagpole that anchored a red banner emblazoned with a gold lion flapping in the wind. The lion is the symbol of the organization, Franco said.

A smaller group of counter-demonstrators were also in attendance. Mason Hargett said he would prefer if no religious statues were erected on state grounds. But if the Ten Commandments monument is going to stand, so should a Baphomet one, he said.

The United States is a “religious plurality,” Hargett said, adding that there is no reason to put one religious monument over all the others.

Hargett said he showed up Wednesday to provide a contrast to the anti-Satanic Temple protest and show he and others who opposed religious symbols on government property are not “evil people” but “kind-hearted Arkansans.”

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    January 25, 2017 at 12:25 p.m.

    You know, while I don't really approve of this monument, I don't approve of Rappert's folly on the Capitol grounds either. No religious monuments belong on the Capitol grounds. Heck, if we're going to put the Ten Commandments there, why not put one to Sharia law there or the Code of Hammurabi? Here's the deal. You reap what you sow so get over it and shut up with the protests. Oh, and before some of you Bible thumpers come trying to "save my soul," I'm very content with my faith journey as a Christian.

  • MDL
    January 25, 2017 at 12:26 p.m.

    How could anyone not see this happening??? Separation of Church and State - anyone ever heard of that?

    Maybe Senator Rapert should try to work on the actual problems facing Arkansas instead of proposing legislation concerning religion.

  • Knuckleball1
    January 25, 2017 at 12:47 p.m.

    This country was founded on Freedom of Religion .... if they allow one symbol then they have to allow another religion to put theirs up also... where we agree or not. That is what has put this country above others..

  • Porkytuskadaro
    January 25, 2017 at 12:51 p.m.

    If it comes down to a public hearing; I hope the respondents from both sides are somehow verified as being Arkansans. I have faith in the judgement of Arkansas people on a matter of this nature but I can imagine the one side "shipping" noo-residents in to force their desperate and destructive discord to a state they shouldn't hold an opinion in.

  • FireEyes
    January 25, 2017 at 12:53 p.m.

    Not surprised at this since our nation is sold out to the enemy on SO many levels. Even those who call themselves "Christian" have NO clue that this nation was founded on Biblical principles. For those who falsely shriek 'separation of church and state,' I challenge you to find that in the CONSTITUTION.........I'll give you a hint, IT'S NOT THERE, period!!! A nation founded on Bible principles, and dedicated to God Almighty by George Washington at the first inauguration, should have nothing to do with anything of the devil and to do so invites condemnation from God. Christianity is why this nation exists at all. Learn your true history and do please learn what a real religion is because Christianity is NOT a religion.

  • abb
    January 25, 2017 at 12:59 p.m.

    Dig a hole 40 feet deep on capital grounds. Make sure it has about 6" of cold muddy water in the bottom. Then put the satanic temple in the hole. Drop a ladder down the hole and let the Satanist visit it there.

  • Kharma
    January 25, 2017 at 1:15 p.m.

    Oh for crying out loud, without regard to whether this country was founded upon alleged Christian principles or not, new placements of religious symbols, iconography, statuaries, &c.have absolutely no place on public property. While there remain extant some remnants of now prohibited practice ("In God we trust" e.g.), new attempts at the religion based malfeasant practices of some in positions of trust should be countered / balanced, and must be per prior SCOTUS rulings, with sundry visual representations of other faiths. As abominable as goat-dude may be to the followers of other deities, he has as much right to be displayed in a public space as does anyone else's god. Top tip: Let us refrain from any religious displays in and on public property.

  • barcoder
    January 25, 2017 at 1:18 p.m.

    Too ridiculous to even be discussing.

  • Kharma
    January 25, 2017 at 1:34 p.m.

    FireEyes: The attempted enslavement of, wholesale slaughter of, and wanton deprivation of the native peoples, coupled with the abject terror meted upon the indigenous of this land by our "Christian" forefathers must certainly made the God of Abraham so very proud, as it was so (turn the other cheek) Christ-like n'est pas?

    Then of course there was the enslavement of the blacks justified in this country to most by a perverted reading of the Bible (the purported "curse" of Ham), but I digress.

  • 23cal
    January 25, 2017 at 2:04 p.m.

    The laugh is on the religious protesters. Their actions and comments will be brought up during the court case over whether or not Rapert's monument is considered to be primarily historical or primarily religious.
    I haven't heard about any historians protesting.