Well, darn. Under an order from the Oklahoma Supreme Court, a very large crane came Tuesday night and removed an enormous Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Tragically, this also means that the Satanic Temple probably won’t be able to place their own competing monument beside it.
After a lengthy lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, a state Supreme Court judge ordered in July that the Ten Commandments monument be removed. It’s been standing on the Capitol grounds since 2012, and was replaced last year after a guy plowed his car into it. Workers uprooted the thing and deposited it a few blocks away, on the lawn of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank.
The Satanic Temple famously had no problem with the monument—as long as they could erect their own statue beside it, a monument to Baphomet, a horned, winged, sexually ambiguous, goat-reminiscent deity. (As a nod to conservative tastes, the Satanic Temple commissioned a version of Baphomet without the voluptuous breasts the deity is usually depicted with. The sculptor based Baphomet’s admirable physique on Iggy Pop.)
This summer, as the litigation around the Ten Commandments monument drew to a close, the Satanists began facing up to the sad possibility that Baphomet will never be able to take in the rich sights of Oklahoma City. For now, Baphomet lives in Detroit, where it was unveiled this July.
In a striking contrast to the sad trombone removal of the Commandments, Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves told us at the time that the unveiling turned into a pretty good party, death threats aside.
“Pastor David Bullock fomented a lot of misguided outrage from which we received a good number of death threats which he refused to condemn, though we asked him multiple times,” he told us in a July email. As part of their security measures, anyone attending the event “was required to sign a contract transferring the property of their souls to Satan. This, we felt, would filter out the extreme superstitious radicals, and it worked.”
In an email to Jezebel Wednesday, Greaves said the situation represented a “win-win” for the Satanic Temple, in that they were able to make the point that you either accept every religious monument or none of them:
Oklahoma either had to accept the upshot of their own legal argument that allowed for the 10 Commandments to be erected on Capitol grounds to begin with—by accepting our privately donated monument as well—or, in order to avoid blatant, unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, they would have to remove the 10 Commandments so that no such monuments could stand on government property. These were really the only legal options Baphomet allowed for.
He adds that the Supreme Court of Oklahoma clearly understood the dilemma Baphomet presented.
The 10 Commandments have come down, and we’re celebrating the outcome. It’s onward to Arkansas, where an almost identical monument fiasco is now playing out.
But ultimately, he adds, the point here is not merely to plant a goat-man in someone’s lawn:
It’s important to understand that we’re neither fighting exclusively for 10 Commandments monuments to be removed, nor are we merely fighting for the right to put Baphomet on government property. What we’re fighting against is a situation in which one particular viewpoint enjoys the appearance of privileged treatment and governmental authority. Despite finding our offices of public service besieged by proselytizing evangelicals, clearly trying to advance a distinct religious agenda, we still live in a pluralistic nation where “religious liberty” isn’t theirs alone.
That this basic fact of Constitutional Law was beyond Oklahoma’s own Attorney General, Scott Pruitt—who vowed to leave the 10 Commandments standing, even if it meant revising the Constitution he swore to uphold—is a sad commentary, not only upon the state of Oklahoma, but upon the United States in general. Assholes like Scott Pruitt, and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, have become a nationwide epidemic. It’s certainly not enough that their wasteful, absurd, and clearly illegal attempts at theocratic encroachments fail, they should themselves be removed from office and exemplified for the failures that they are.
You lose, Pruitt. Fuck you.
Those Satanists make some pretty, pretty good points. Nonetheless, this farce may continue to drag on, because almost as soon as the monument was removed, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin immediately announced plans to try to bring it back:
That won’t work, because it would inevitably end in another lawsuit, which would make its way back to the state Supreme Court, which has already ordered the monument’s removal.
In the meantime, the company that actually built the Ten Commandments monument told Fox News they still haven’t been paid a dime for the replacement they built.
Workers remove the Ten Commandments, October 6, 2015. Photo via AP Images