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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. ( 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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Archived Comments

  • RobertBolt
    August 17, 2018 at 8:39 a.m.

    I heard Baphomet is Jesus' real father because neither Joseph nor Jehovah could satisfy poor Mary's desire to be respected as more than just a baby factory. Who knows who the real father was, though? Whoever it was, don't blame Mary. It is hard to tell some of these gods apart in a moment of passion in the dark.

  • RBBrittain
    August 17, 2018 at 8:40 a.m.

    The article correctly notes the presence of "the Knights Party, a white-nationalist group," but fails to note that this is the current name of Thom Robb's KKK group in the Harrison area. (I understood Robb, as "Pastor Thomas Robb", was supposed to lead his group there personally; the article doesn't mention him being present.) Otherwise, I agree with the general sentiment here: If you let the Ten Commandments onto the Capitol grounds as Rapert did then Baphomet should be there too, though the wiser choice is not to have either of them there.

  • Skeptic1
    August 17, 2018 at 8:41 a.m.

    All you faux atheists take out your wallet and look at the Dollar bill, does it say in Satan We Trust?

  • condoleezza
    August 17, 2018 at 8:46 a.m.

    Skeotic1. If your beliefs are based on your money, what does that make you?

  • RBBrittain
    August 17, 2018 at 8:56 a.m.

    @bkindonline: Who is "Thou" in your quote from the Ten Commandments? Some would argue it means only the Jews to whom it was addressed (and who violated it even before Moses brought it down from Mount Sinai the first time, and many times thereafter). Others, surely including Rapert, would include Christians. I'm pretty sure, however, that it does NOT include Arkansas state government, which is why we have freedom of religion in both the United States *AND* Arkansas Constitution's. To put it in legal terms, EVERY god -- by whatever name he (or she, or they) go by -- by definition resides outside the jurisdiction of ANY earthly government. ;)

  • GeneralMac
    August 17, 2018 at 9:31 a.m.

    The "usual suspects" laughed and joked when that nut destroyed the 10 Commandments.

    Would they laugh and joke if some nut destroyed the Satanic statue ?

  • RobertBolt
    August 17, 2018 at 9:46 a.m.

    Gods do not reside in stone, and to fetishize as governmental policy any particalar religion's engraving is not Constitutional. The government must recognize all superstitions suck equally and leave them alone to do so.

  • MS6321
    August 17, 2018 at 9:50 a.m.

    Never gamble what you cannot afford to lose - your eternal soul. I have gone all-in by placing my complete trust in Jesus Christ and his blood that was shed on Calvary.

  • Nodmcm
    August 17, 2018 at 10:02 a.m.

    Let's get to the really hard part of joining church and state--choosing which denomination to be the official one here in Arkansas. The Episcopalians have the most money, like the Stevens, and the nicest high school in Little Rock. There are lots of powerful and rich Roman Catholics in the state. Probably the most numerous are the Baptists, but there are different sects, from national groups like Southern to independents like Primitive and Missionary, making the choice hard. Methodists are almost as numerous, and they are relatively benign, so maybe let's hope for Methodist rule here in Arkansas. Eventually, for this to play out as it has elsewhere in history, we will ultimately have to choose.

  • nc72211
    August 17, 2018 at 10:27 a.m.

    Thank you Rapert!! Yes, your fault. What is the next indignity the people of AR have to bear to satisfy your ego and need for self importance. Are we citizens going to get to pay some more legal fees for you too? You are the poster boy for term limits.

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