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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

  • tigger41665sbcglobalnet
    August 17, 2018 at 4:03 p.m.

    There is an easy solution to this. Christians - RAPERT - buy property next to the capitol grounds. Put the ten commandments there. Make them HUGE, so that you can see them. Don't get me wrong... I am atheist, liberal, and I cannot STAND the joke of a "representative" that ^^ that man is. I don't even like typing his name. It makes me puke a little in my mouth. I'm just saying that if the christians want their 10 commandments near the capitol, put them on private land. If the Satanist group wants Baphomet near the capitol, they can buy private land, too. Neither of them belong on government property. As for all of the "christians" condemning people in the comments... What would Jesus do???? Condemn and scorn and just be downright nasty? Or, kill them with kindness? I don't know that I see any "christians" here.

  • crasher1
    August 17, 2018 at 4:32 p.m.

    Freedom of speech and expression. Exercising those freedoms that our Veterans served and some died for. Oh well. I choose to believe and will always exercise that belief (in a loving and forgiving God)

  • BoudinMan
    August 17, 2018 at 4:46 p.m.

    I can't believe that I actually agree with some of what cookedattorney and packman have said on this subject. What's going on?

  • LR1955
    August 17, 2018 at 6:25 p.m.

    Why not put the 10 Commandments monolith, the Goatman pedofile statue, and all the others across the street at the Buddhist building? Or on the grounds of the Arkansas Arts Center where statues belong?

  • WGT
    August 17, 2018 at 6:43 p.m.

    Wake up. Grow up. There are no gods. All interpretations are speculation. No one has ever seen a god. Rapert has no basis for his words. Neither do the Satanists.

  • carpenterretired
    August 17, 2018 at 7:02 p.m.

    Bingo to Packman as to the best location for the statue.

  • mrcharles
    August 17, 2018 at 8:17 p.m.

    Note the inner cowardice of our politicians by not having the integrity to say what most say here. Imagine one speaks wise like most here are.then next election they will be the baphomet.
    Crasher you might ask the amalakites or the humans drowned at the great flood or the millions of children who die each year, most in great pain and distress, across the world about that there love idea.
    By the way who got up this morning hating their family so you can follow your leader? If you didn't hoorah for you , you sinners!

  • Knuckleball1
    August 17, 2018 at 8:49 p.m.

    A Statue of Rapert would make a Good Satanic Statue... He is a joke and always has been, it is amazing that the people in his area keep putting him back in office... He must be putting something in the water...

  • Retirednwsman
    August 17, 2018 at 9:49 p.m.

    I believe in the Ten Commandments, but don’t believe they should be on government grounds. If the Commandments are allowed to stay on state grounds, then any other religious monument must be allowed also.

    As for Rapert, he continues to show the dipwad that he is.

    August 27, 2018 at 12:07 a.m.

    What in Hades does this clown mean by "his Satanic Rights"? What In The HellOoo is Going On In This Country?