UPDATE: This piece has been updated to include a statement from The Satanic Temple.
- Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin asked a federal district court to protect the state capitol’s Ten Commandment monument despite protests from The Satanic Temple of religious discrimination, according to a press release.
- When the Ten Commandment monument was proposed in 2016, TST submitted a request to put a statue of Baphomet with Children, the trademark statue of TST and the occult featuring a winged goat-headed humanoid creature with two children seated beneath it, in front of the Ten Commandments statue, according to the motion.
- “The Supreme Court said on multiple occasions that displaying the Ten Commandments as a symbol of law and moral conduct, which has both religious and secular significance, is a longstanding and national tradition that is a matter of law and therefore constitutional,” Lea Patterson, counsel for First Liberty Institute, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin filed a motion with a federal district court calling for a summary judgment that would allow a Ten Commandments monument to remain at the state capitol, despite protests from The Satanic Temple (TST), according to a Tuesday press release.
The Satanic Temple joined a lawsuit in 2018 with Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a state/church watchdog, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) arguing that the monument was discriminatory to other faiths and suggested that the state government was taking an official position on religion, according to the Arkansas Times. Griffin, alongside First Liberty Institute (FLI), the largest legal organization in the nation that defends religious liberty, urged the federal court earlier this week to reject this argument and let the monument stand, claiming that TST’s lawsuit is an “attempt to diminish or deter speech with religious significance,” according to the motion. (RELATED: State’s First Satan Club Opens Up At Elementary School)
“The Satanic Temple (TST) Intervenors’ peculiar claims fair no better,” the motion read. “Their equal-protection claim fails from the get-go because they made no serious effort to locate a sponsor for legislation that would place their ‘Baphomet with Children’ monument on the Capitol grounds. Indeed, far from attempting to state a valid claim, TST’s intervention claims are an attempt to diminish or deter speech with religious significance.”
When the Ten Commandment monument was proposed in 2015, TST submitted a request to put a statue of Baphomet with Children, the trademark statue of TST and the occult featuring a winged goat-headed humanoid creature with two children seated beneath it, in front of the Ten Commandments statue, according to the motion. When TST was informed that “any new monument must be approved by an act of the General Assembly,” they allegedly did not attempt to meet the requirements until months later, threatening to sue if the application was not approved.
“No other efforts were made to obtain support for the Baphomet monument in the General Assembly until, nearly two months later … this time [in an email] arguing that if legislators did not sponsor its monument ‘the 10 Commandments monument will be deemed illegal and will come down,'” the motion explained. “That email stated, ‘We are simply establishing our due diligence.’ TST made no further effort to seek a sponsor during either the 2017 legislative session or any subsequent session.”
Lea Patterson, counsel for FLI, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that, despite TST’s statements that the monument was an unconstitutional display of promoting one religion, the Supreme Court had dealt with this argument in the past.
“The Supreme Court already settled the debate about the Ten Commandments monuments back in 2005 and they are perfectly constitutional, in the context that the Arkansas capitol has any different monuments commemorating aspects of history,” Patterson said. “The Supreme Court said on multiple occasions that displaying the Ten Commandments as a symbol of law and moral conduct, which has both religious and secular significance, is a longstanding and national tradition that is a matter of law and therefore constitutional.”
A TST spokesperson told the DCNF that if the court ruled against their complaint in the lawsuit TST would continue to push for a Baphomet monument.
“If the Court orders that the Ten Commandments monument may stay, we anticipate that the Court will direct Secretary Thurston to erect and permanently maintain TST’s Baphomet monument on Arkansas Capitol grounds,” the spokesperson said.
The AG and FLI concluded the motion by arguing that the Establishment Clause doesn’t require removing religion entirely from the “public square” and noted that the government does not have to acknowledge a “parody of religion” in order to recognize the importance of a “legal and moral document with religious significance.”
The AG’s office directed the DCNF back to the motion when asked for comment.
FFRF and the ACLU did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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