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story.lead_photo.caption Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the New York-based Satanic Temple, speaks Thursday near a statue of Baphomet at the state Capitol in Little Rock. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

Scores of people attended a rally held by the Satanic Temple on Thursday in Little Rock that featured the group's 7½-foot-tall Baphomet statue.

The event was planned by the Satanic Temple and Satanic Arkansas -- which is not affiliated with the national organization -- and took about two months to put together, organizer Ivy Forrester said. Forrester, like several at the rally, gave a pseudonym instead of her real name.

The event was scheduled for 1-3 p.m., but supporters and protesters showed up shortly before the start time and many left before 3 p.m. About 150 people attended the rally, which had a substantial police presence. Authorities declined to give an official crowd estimate.

The rally was prompted by the reinstallation of a Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol in April, the group said.

Installation of a statue of Baphomet -- a part-man, part-goat deity who is seated and accompanied by two smiling children -- alongside the Ten Commandments monument has been denied under a 2017 law that requires legislative sponsorship for consideration of any monument.

The group has argued that the Ten Commandments' place near the Capitol requires other religions be given the chance to display their symbols.

Gallery: Satanic Temple rally in Little Rock

The Satanic Temple has said it will sue the state, claiming religious discrimination. But when the Satanic Temple tried to join a case the ACLU had already filed against the state, the ACLU asked the court to bar the intervention. A judge has not yet ruled whether the Satanic Temple can join the case.

The Ten Commandments monument was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jason Rapert and installed quietly in 2017. Less than 24 hours after its installation, Michael Tate Reed II drove his car into the monument, smashing it to pieces. Reed of Van Buren was charged with felony criminal mischief but was acquitted on mental-health grounds.

Reed also destroyed a Ten Commandments monument outside Oklahoma's Capitol in 2014.

The Satanic Temple had originally tried to install its Baphomet statue there, but Oklahoma's Supreme Court ruled the Ten Commandments monument was unconstitutional, and it was taken down. The Satanic Temple then suspended its Oklahoma campaign.

Rapert said in an online statement Thursday that he respected the protesters' First Amendment rights but also called them "extremists" and said "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."

Many rally attendees dressed in black, with some wearing horns or armor. Shouts of "Hail Satan" and the sound of bagpipes resounded during speeches.

Speakers included Conway pastor Chad Jones and Lucien Greaves, spokesman for the Satanic Temple.

Jones' speech was interrupted by a masked protester who called him a "liar" and an "agent of Satan." The man took off his mask while speaking and walked away with police officers alongside him.

Throughout the event, members of the Knights Party, a white-nationalist group, held Christian and Confederate flags behind the crowd, while across the street a group of Christians held signs showing Bible verses. One woman stood next to a cross bearing the word "repent." A man stood alone, preaching, throughout most of the proceedings.

The Satanic Temple describes itself as a "non-theistic religious organization dedicated to Satanic practice and the promotion of Satanic rights."

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press and by Jillian Kremer of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Metro on 08/17/2018

Print Headline: Ralliers urge spot at Arkansas Capitol for Satanic Temple's statue

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Comments

  • RBear
    August 17, 2018 at 6:42 a.m.

    Rapert said "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." Honestly Rapert, I wonder how much you really understand our Constitution and what the founders intended. From my comment yesterday, our founders established this country with a freedom to practice whatever religion they felt in their hearts or not practice at all. They did not see a reason to impose one on Americans.
    ...
    Interestingly, most were deist which you would probably reject. Think about that. The founders who crafted a provision to allow you to follow your faith as you feel compelled to would probably be rejected by you. Take Jefferson, for example. He rejected so much of the Bible he created the Jefferson Bible which contains only the sayings of Christ in the New Testament. I've seen it in person and it's truly a wonderful experience to witness his approach to faith.
    ...
    I could go on, but it's time some of the "Christians" were taken down a notch by facts. Too many don't even have a clue about 1A and what religious liberty really means. They use it to discriminate and oppress, something the Pharisees and Sadducees did also.

  • LRCrookAtty
    August 17, 2018 at 7:42 a.m.

    RBear...Great post and true. What do fundamentalist christians not understand about Freedom of and FROM religion. Our country was founded on the idea that religious ideas would not be used in the creation of laws or within the government itself. It is inherent that each individual (elected to office in our government) has their personal religious beliefs as did the founding fathers (as Rbear eloquently stated about Jefferson). However, the difference is that our founding fathers realized that the tyranny in England, the Roman Catholic Church and other religious organizations, would use their religious ideas and distort them to get away with murder and persecution of their own citizens. Therefore, they (the founding fathers) wisely set a barrier between church and the federal government.

  • punk47
    August 17, 2018 at 7:57 a.m.

    What a bunch of nuts they will wonder on judgement day where did I go wrong but it will be to late.

  • Popsmith
    August 17, 2018 at 8:01 a.m.

    Defining a new level of stupid.

  • condoleezza
    August 17, 2018 at 8:05 a.m.

    punk47. They will go to paradise for defending the Constitution.

    popsmith. You are talking about Rapert, correct?

  • 23cal
    August 17, 2018 at 8:14 a.m.

    The religious nuts do what they always do.....issue empty threats instead of using reason to debate the issue. Gotta use what you have, I suppose.

  • JA40
    August 17, 2018 at 8:15 a.m.

    How many of us knew this was coming?

  • joekchairmanmeowcom
    August 17, 2018 at 8:20 a.m.

    Got to love the "Real Christian" protesting with the Confederate Flag.

  • BKindOnline
    August 17, 2018 at 8:31 a.m.

    This sounds wonderful as Mom and apple pie on the surface if not for the fact that the God of the Bible is REAL and there will be a judgement after death. He himself said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” What does it profit a man if he gains the whole would but loses his own soul?

  • Subdridad
    August 17, 2018 at 8:38 a.m.

    I wonder how much Laugh-o-wet has contributed to the founding and success of the US. I wonder how many moral principles he espouses. Are the history books are filled with the good deeds and great accomplishments of Satanists? How many Satanic hospitals and charities are there?

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