Christians and Republican lawmakers were not amused with the Baphomet Statue.

Satanists turned out in droves to shout their support of the unveiling of Baphomet , a bronze statue bearing a goat head perched over a winged body, in the Arkansas capital city of Little Rock. The Satanic Temple (TST) arranged the rally right opposite the State Capitol building. TST organized the event to protest against the newly installed Ten Commandments monument on public grounds. Lawmakers approved the latter in 2015. Religious freedom lies in the heart of the issue.

The seeds of the rally were sown in May when members of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a case to remove the monument. The case was made on behalf of four women residents in Arkansas who want to do away with The Ten Commandments monument. According to the plaintiffs, the religious structure violates the religious liberty guarantee as espoused by the First Amendment. In his statement to the media, Lucien Greaves, the co-founder and spokesperson of TST, described the event as a kind of rally for people who regard the U.S. founding Constitutional principles in the highest honor. He further went on to say Satanists only want the public square to be an area where equality, free speech, and liberty can be enjoyed by concerned citizens, and such tenets are to be respected by public office holders.

The Baphomet statue in the center of the storm was a striking figure that stands eight and a half feet tall. It was a temporary display even as Satanists argued for the erection of a permanent effigy as per the law guaranteeing religious rights freedom in the American constitution. The point was made succinctly by Ivy Forrester, the co-founder of The Satanic Temple Arkansas chapter, who said if the government allows one religious monument, then it should also be open to multiple beliefs. If the Arkansas authorities do not agree on giving space to others, then there should be no space for any religious statue.

The TST display triggered a counter-protest made by Christian activists. They held a number of signs with content insisting that blasphemy cannot be free speech and Satan has zero rights. Another one proclaimed car horns should be honked to prove the supremacy of Jesus Christ. Republican Senators like state Senator Jason Rapert, who played a major role in the installation of The Ten Commandments icon, termed TST activists as “outside extremists” who promote “profane” matters.

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