Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


High-dollar trolling
May 2, 2014 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Vice has photos and updated information about the Baphomet statue that the Church of Satan wants to install at the Oklahoma City Courthouse.
posted by Pope Guilty (132 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
“The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”

That's the greatest thing I've read all day, FYI.
posted by naju at 4:52 PM on May 2 [94 favorites]


"The Temple is building a mold of the sculpture so they can pop these things out like evil, terribly expensive action figures whenever they need a new one."

*snicker* Okay, this is funny.

Also, the statue is really good! Fantastic rendering of the Dark Lord.
posted by pony707 at 5:06 PM on May 2 [10 favorites]


This is fantastic, turnabout is fair play. I'm looking forward to seeing a playground with all the monuments side by side for kids to play on.
posted by arcticseal at 5:06 PM on May 2 [15 favorites]


Seems the only way the statue goes up is if the city loses the suit v ACLU and then declares the park a public forum to keep the 10C statue up. Of all the outcomes that seems to be the least likely. It would be oddly commendable if they did that, though.
posted by jpe at 5:07 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


This is the kind of thing Jesus would do. Seriously!

Okay, maybe he wouldn't be too cool with a Satan statue specifically, but playing along with the dominant power's silly rules and blowing things up to a ridiculous extreme is a total Jesus move. Hit me on one cheek - well, here's the other! Put up a statue glorifying one religion - let's put up statues for all of them!
posted by Kevin Street at 5:09 PM on May 2 [15 favorites]


From the profile "Unmasking Lucien Greaves, Leader of the Satanic Temple" linked at the bottom of the Vice article:
"Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple, who first showed up at my door over a decade ago... was a young man, too smart for his own good. He wanted a copy of a book I had republished called Might Is Right. It was a 100-year-old tome, long forgotten by most, with the exception of Anton LaVey, who'd found it in a bookstore as a young man and used it as the basis for The Satanic Bible...."
In turn, Might is Right is "a case for Social Darwinism. It is not a philosophical treatise in the strict sense, but more of a 'manifesto' for racism, sexism, the worship of strength and the virtues of war, such as unbridled rapine, extreme unscrupulousness, joy in risk and contempt of danger," etc. (from the first Amazon review.)

You know, if the Satanic Temple really wanted to get some dander up, they could claim Ayn Rand as a patron saint and Atlas Shrugged as their equivalent of the book of psalms or whatever. I mean, she did hate Christianity! She was in favor of social darwinism and crushing the weak! She extolled and admired a child murderer! She would fit right in, really. They should do it. And then invite all the Oklahoma tea party / Rand worshipers to a consecration for the statue.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:21 PM on May 2 [22 favorites]


The children really make it transcendent. Your run of the mill Satanic art can have a pentagram and a goat head, but a pair of kids looking up at Baphomet adoringly? Genius.
posted by Copronymus at 5:25 PM on May 2 [55 favorites]


Every t-shirt I own
immortalized in stone.
posted by SharkParty at 5:34 PM on May 2 [20 favorites]


This is the kind of thing Jesus would do. Seriously!

Okay, maybe he wouldn't be too cool with a Satan statue specifically, but playing along with the dominant power's silly rules and blowing things up to a ridiculous extreme is a total Jesus move.


If Jesus wanted to upset the powerful and help out the weak and poor he would have mentioned it somewhere, instead of focusing exclusively on the evils of abortion and homosexuality.
posted by Sangermaine at 5:34 PM on May 2 [145 favorites]


\m/
posted by Jimbob at 5:35 PM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Over in Denver they install demon statues at the airport, just as a matter of course.
posted by Nelson at 5:35 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


I understand the point, though I don't agree with the trolling aspect at all, I kinda throw my hands up at these kinds of things, which mostly serve to rile people up more than find any sort of common social ground.

I feel the same way about FSM, I understand the point, but find it antagonistic, more about making the point than belief. I can respect other's beliefs without being cruel.

My first thoughts on the pictures were, wow , that's really beautiful. They chose a really great sculptor who has made something that without the rhetoric and obvious symbol on the throne is simply gorgeous fantastical art.

Give that goat man an umbrella and a lamp post and I'm just enchanted.
posted by dreamling at 5:38 PM on May 2 [11 favorites]


It's a wonderful sculpture but with a crucial inaccuracy: Baphomet, as the sum total of all the universe, and both male and female, is supposed to have prominent female breasts.
posted by graymouser at 5:40 PM on May 2 [21 favorites]


is supposed to have prominent female breasts.

I get the impression a statue of Satan is more likely to be accepted in the US than naked breasts in public.
posted by Jimbob at 5:41 PM on May 2 [113 favorites]


They would probably accept a statue of the devil before they would accept one with boobs.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:42 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


Damn you Jimbob.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:42 PM on May 2 [13 favorites]


Yeah, forgoing the breasts removes the possibility of obscenity objections.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:42 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


All proceeds will go toward the Baphomet.

Is a sentence I've never read before.
posted by el io at 5:43 PM on May 2 [21 favorites]


damn, now I need to go change my account password
posted by indubitable at 5:44 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


sidenote: I'd be really disturbed if the statue were a scary clown. fyi
posted by dreamling at 5:45 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


“Depending on our insurance policy,” Greaves said, “we may be able to cast two from the destruction of one, expediting our arrival to the next battleground.”


I...uh... Is this the type of insurance policy where the deductible is your soul?
posted by Hoopo at 5:48 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


They're doing the Lord's work.
posted by aramaic at 5:54 PM on May 2 [10 favorites]


Well then, the deductable is prepaid by Oklahoma politicians.
posted by mephron at 5:55 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


“wouldn’t expect these outraged and nearly insensible reactionaries to actually know how to assault a bronze monument without severely hurting themselves in the process.”

Apparently this guy has never actually met a proper git-r-done redneck. Not only do they have huge trucks with reinforced tow bars, winches and come-alongs, they also have shotguns with slug rounds, and most of 'em probably know how to make or obtain black powder, thermite, or TNT.

Hell, add a few flats of beer to the above shopping list and it's just a fun weekend in the woods blowing up stumps and shooting wild boar and going mudding. Yes, all at the same time.

Liberul commie Satanist scum should never underestimate the mechanical prowess and determination of a pissed off redneck or honest good old country boy. I'm placing odds on 24 hours to less than one week before that investment casting is sintered into a fine powder. Certainly less than a week. And, no, you probably won't get the pieces back.

Also, Baphomet needs more pendulous, womanly breasts. The Dark Lord is best expressed as a confusing gender montage. Hentai dick nipples optional, but a stylish touch.
posted by loquacious at 5:56 PM on May 2 [17 favorites]


Metafilter; Hentai dick nipples optional, but a stylish touch.
posted by Jimbob at 5:59 PM on May 2 [36 favorites]


I have never been a particular fan of Satanism (of the Anton LaVey variety, the Marilyn Manson attention-whoring variety or the Norwegian-black-metal look-at-me-I'm-eeevil! Variety), but these guys are alright.
posted by acb at 6:11 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


Oh, someone might try to destroy it, but it's a seven foot tall bronze statue in front of the capital. It's not going to be easy to destroy it quickly or discreetly, and if the state doesn't protect like any other public fixture, they'll end up paying for it in court. Also, even if the politicians hate the statue, I bet they'll vigorously prosecute anyone who uses incendiaries, explosives, or firearms in front of the capital.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:12 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Here in Birmingham, we've got a Satanic fountain. His name is Bob. He ain't really a devil though, much less THE devil. He's just playin'.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:15 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Between erecting this statue and attacking video game makers, Satan is really keeping busy these days.
posted by homunculus at 6:16 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


You know, I have to admit: I'm rather fond of Satan.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:21 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Lucien Greaves? Lucien Greaves?!
posted by Diablevert at 6:28 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


It really is quite a wonderful statue in all kinds of ways. I hope it gets to hang out near as many public displays of the Commandments and crosses and so on as possible.
posted by rtha at 6:28 PM on May 2


That is a good looking statue. Oklahoma should go all in on this controversy and get all sorts of religions to submit a statue. I'd go quite a way to visit a park with statues/monuments of assorted religions. You know a nice gilded Budda, a Kali, maybe a Shiva, heck even a flying spaghetti monster.
posted by Mitheral at 6:30 PM on May 2


Nelson: "Over in Denver they install demon statues at the airport, just as a matter of course."

The OU Fred Jones Museum of Art has a smaller version of demon horse. If the Capitol Preservation Commission rejects Baphomet, they could donate him to the Museum and he would totally fit in between the Mustang and the Botero Sphinx.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:30 PM on May 2


as head of the international church of sleepwalking, i would demand this statue be placed, but i'm afraid people here would find that much more objectionable than a statue of the lord of darkness
posted by pyramid termite at 6:36 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


(Kali and Shiva are... the same religion, yes? No fair doubling up.)
posted by ormondsacker at 6:36 PM on May 2


THIS.
posted by crazylegs at 6:38 PM on May 2



Oh, someone might try to destroy it, but it's a seven foot tall bronze statue in front of the capital. It's not going to be easy to destroy it quickly or discreetly, and if the state doesn't protect like any other public fixture, they'll end up paying for it in court


Though if it goes to a jury trial, would a jury convict them?
posted by acb at 6:40 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


The only thing that bugs me is that the group behind this is from NYC. I mean, it's irrelevant to the argument of religious freedom, but I suppose it would be very valid for the Oklahoma capital to deny a permit on the basis of this not being organized or paid for by citizens of Oklahoma.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:51 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Wow, that's a gorgeous statue. I would like one for my yard.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:55 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Apparently this guy has never actually met a proper git-r-done redneck. Not only do they have huge trucks with reinforced tow bars, winches and come-alongs, they also have shotguns with slug rounds, and most of 'em probably know how to make or obtain black powder, thermite, or TNT.

True.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:56 PM on May 2


The only thing that bugs me is that the group behind this is from NYC. I mean, it's irrelevant to the argument of religious freedom, but I suppose it would be very valid for the Oklahoma capital to deny a permit on the basis of this not being organized or paid for by citizens of Oklahoma.


although I *love * the idea of the Oklahoma capital grounds becoming an open canvas for anything us coastal liberals want to force flyover yokels to look at.

*starts fundraising for giant "Toby Keith Sux!" sign*

posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:58 PM on May 2


Meanwhile, in Florida.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:03 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Over in Denver they install demon statues at the airport, just as a matter of course.
posted by Nelson


That's not the only disturbing thing at the Denver Airport.
posted by 445supermag at 7:10 PM on May 2 [10 favorites]


Hail satan!
posted by oceanjesse at 7:11 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


acb: Though if it goes to a jury trial, would a jury convict them?

Quite possibly, if they do something dangerous like blowing the statue up, or burning it down with thermite. Also, some people don't know about jury nullification. If the trial goes wonky in other ways, the church can sue the government over equal protection violations.

Plus, the church can instigate a civil suit. Recovering the cost of the statue plus legal fees would be a relatively satisfactory conclusion (I'm guessing they'll replace it regardless), and those don't always require a jury.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:14 PM on May 2


All proceeds will go toward the Baphomet.

Is a sentence I've never read before.


If JPM Chase holds your mortgage, it is at the bottom of every statement.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:15 PM on May 2 [54 favorites]


Is the Baphomet actually a depiction of Satan, or just a symbol of the occult?
posted by Brocktoon at 7:15 PM on May 2


The parody tweets from vice_is_hip are leaking into reality.
posted by gorbweaver at 7:17 PM on May 2


Put up a statue glorifying one religion - let's put up statues for all of them!

It isn't necessarily about promoting religious diversity and acceptance of alternative spiritualities.

It could instead be about playing up the Satanic ritual abuse moral panic that's particular to the brand of Christian fundamentalism that got the 10C erected in the first place. Trolling them directly with the symbolism that offends them most. You don't want to add statues for even more religions; next up is a gay pride statue and then one for the women's liberation movement.

The point is to get them all taken down and return to a secular court building, right?
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:27 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


They should have worked with the Gnostics to convey Baphomet as the demiurge and therefore author of the Ten Commandments.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:30 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


(Kali and Shiva are... the same religion, yes? No fair doubling up.)

So are Satan and God
posted by Hoopo at 7:39 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


These Satanists are doing the Lord's work, truly.
posted by Think_Long at 7:39 PM on May 2


One of those kids clearly plans to tear off the devil's head and wear it as a mask. It's a good fit for a courthouse.
posted by planetesimal at 8:16 PM on May 2


The Council Bluffs multiplex movie theater is covered with Egyptian symbols and its central atrium is painted to look as though it had been torn open, revealing space, filled with airplanes and spacecraft, sailing over ancient Egypt.

I dunno. I kind of think the theater is trying to tell us ancient astronauts built the pyramids. Not in a jokey way, I actually think that's the point of the interior design.

The whole world is littered with occult messages if you know how to look for them.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:19 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


I understand the point, though I don't agree with the trolling aspect at all, I kinda throw my hands up at these kinds of things, which mostly serve to rile people up more than find any sort of common social ground.

Do you feel the same way about the 10 Commandments monument?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:19 PM on May 2 [17 favorites]


One popular argument being used against the Temple’s monument is that it doesn’t have “any historical significance for the State of Oklahoma,” as State Representative Paul Wesselhoft told a local news station in January. “The only reason why the Ten Commandments qualified,” he continued, “is because at the Capitol, what we do is we make laws. We are lawmakers. Well, one of the earliest laws we have are the Ten Commandments.” ...

Greaves told me that “the idea that the Ten Commandments are foundational to US or Oklahoman law is absurd and obscene… I would argue that the message behind our monument speaks more directly to the formation of US Constitutional values than the Ten Commandments possibly could. It especially does so when it stands directly beside the Ten Commandments, as it affirms no one religion enjoys legal preference.”


Such a missed opportunity! Doesn't he mean to say that as the Father of Understanding, Baphomet has directly influenced many decisions throughout history?
posted by salvia at 8:26 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


As a non-theist I feel like maybe they could have made the representational statue of non-religious america NOT AN ACTUAL DEMON LORD. As a demon lord, though, I have to wonder about next waterfeast vis a vis forbidden housing boom.
posted by passerby at 8:35 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


That's what makes it essentially trolling, though. Trolling is putting forth a point of view designed to irritate other people or provoke a response. It's a point of view you don't typically hold yourself.

Not saying I agree or disagree with their action - but I do kind of think that's what they're doing.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:37 PM on May 2


"I give people Ayn Rand, with trappings." - Anton LaVey
posted by JohnFromGR at 8:47 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


what do you mean they never installed the statue. There is no statue there. There has never been a statue. thinking about the statue is forbidden
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


"I give people Ayn Rand, with trappings." - Anton LaVey Ron Paul
posted by jason_steakums at 9:00 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


As a non-theist I feel like maybe they could have made the representational statue of non-religious america NOT AN ACTUAL DEMON LORD.

I think the point is to be as contrary as possible to what the 10C folks like, though. Otherwise the point could be missed if it was like an oak tree or something.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:11 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Love the sculpture!

I used to be a huge fan of Satan - mainly to piss off my Christian parents. I used to tell them that Satanists acted the "opposite of all Christians".

Then I realised to my horror that if I was going to act the opposite of all the Christians I had met, I would be in for a rough ride. I would not be able to lie or steal or judge others harshly. I would not be able to cheat on my partner... and I would not be able to tell everyone about my Lord Satan, or try and force my beliefs on others. All the fun things were already taken by the other side.

I fell into a deep depression and gave up on being a Satan worshipper...
posted by greenhornet at 9:40 PM on May 2 [21 favorites]


As someone who grew up in Oklahoma and doesn't consider himself religious anymore (I moved on to just thinking there's a big thing going on I can't possibly understand and that's OK), I'm sorta torn by this. I get the point. I agree with them. But it's still trolling. And worse it's trolling with the support of a community saying "Yeah! Fuck them!". Not just a single random asshole.

The answer to an asshole pushing his religious beliefs on the state isn't to push some other (in this case insincere, but even if it was completely legitimate) religious beliefs back to make your point. No matter the substance, it's still just stupid bickering back and forth. There shouldn't be any religious statement on government property. Promoting an alternative but equally selfish view isn't going to do anything but make people on both sides angrier.
posted by fishmasta at 10:22 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Ah Satanists. Gotta love a religion specifically created to troll people.Especially to troll the people who say you shouldn't use religion to troll people.
posted by happyroach at 10:34 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


The only thing that bugs me is that the group behind this is from NYC. I mean, it's irrelevant to the argument of religious freedom, but I suppose it would be very valid for the Oklahoma capital to deny a permit on the basis of this not being organized or paid for by citizens of Oklahoma.

The Washington Times is right with you: "The group is based in New York, but says it’s not fair for Oklahoma lawmakers to let a Ten Commandments statue stand at the building, without also allowing monuments that reflect other spiritual beliefs," (Note the excellent proofreading with the comma at the end of the sentence. Yay online news without editors.)
posted by immlass at 10:47 PM on May 2


I feel "trolled" by the ten commandments. So troll away, Satanists.
posted by telstar at 11:18 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


I fully support this. After all, as Chip Gardner once said, "Lord Satan is truly the ruler of this dimension and all dimensions through perpetuity and it is to him that we owe everything".

Everybody should have the opportunity to relax in Lord Satan's loving embrace.
posted by Redfield at 11:25 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Can we just add an addendum for an 11th commandment to be inscribed:
"If you've read this far, you are irrevocably the Chosen ones! Ignore ALL of the above! Satan is bound to your soul as your new true Master!"
posted by Sprocket at 12:57 AM on May 3


Lucien Greaves? Lucien Greaves?!

No relation.
posted by lucien_reeve at 2:40 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]


The Church of Satan is not the group sponsoring this; rather, this is the work of the knockoff Satanic Temple. Magus Gilmore of the CoS has denounced this as ridiculous several times in interviews and via public news posts.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 3:33 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]


I demand to see this sculpture on SkyMall once the mold is finished.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:25 AM on May 3 [7 favorites]


The Church of Satan is not the group sponsoring this; rather, this is the work of the knockoff Satanic Temple.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:32 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]


“I think you’ve got to remember where you are,” said Rep. Don Armes, in the AP report. “This is Oklahoma, the middle of the heartland. I think we need to be tolerant of people who think different than us, but this is Oklahoma and that’s not going to fly here.”


Basically, we need to be tolerant, but we aren't, so take your tolerance elsewhere.
posted by TyBest95 at 5:12 AM on May 3 [12 favorites]


I believe in Lucien Greaves.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:30 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


I fully support this. After all, as Chip Gardner once said, "Lord Satan is truly the ruler of this dimension and all dimensions through perpetuity and it is to him that we owe everything".

"I pray The Lord my Chip to keep."
posted by krinklyfig at 7:41 AM on May 3


That's not the only disturbing thing at the Denver Airport.

I'm sure Abby and Ichabod will get to the bottom of that next season.
posted by localroger at 8:05 AM on May 3


Thanks! The disturbing thing at the Denver airport made my day.
posted by sneebler at 8:17 AM on May 3


Is it really true that nobody knows who paid for the construction of Denver airport or am I just taking a joke literally? That seems insane. Great article and photos in that one.

And this statue of Baphomet is really nice too, almost likeable.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:44 AM on May 3


Does this sort of inside-joke-as-protest ever actually achieve anything?

I don't disagree with the premise, and I'm all for removing the 10 commandments statue in the interests of keeping a specific religion away from US law, but someone upthread mentioned the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and I got the same feeling from that too. Some college kids make a joke, and then thousands follow suit putting stickers of a child's drawing on their car and take photos with colanders on their heads, congratulating themselves at how stupid they're making *other* people look.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:49 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Is the Baphomet actually a depiction of Satan, or just a symbol of the occult?

Mainly the latter, though of course Christians being the dominant religious force conflated the two. Wiki may be relevant, and is surprisingly well-cited.

As a non-theist I feel like maybe they could have made the representational statue of non-religious america NOT AN ACTUAL DEMON LORD.

The Satanic Temple is a religious group. It doesn't seem to me like they were trying to make 'the representational statue of non-religious America' at all. They want equal time for their beliefs, rather.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:53 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]


congratulating themselves at how stupid they're making *other* people look.

I tend to assume the point of the Satan monument, if it's not straight-up "represent our religion too", is to incline the people deciding whether to put any religious monuments at all in the public square against all religious monuments.

(And I tend to think of the FSM and the Darwin fish as less about laughing at the silly people and more about identifying oneself to others as a member of a different tribe, though my experience is that the Darwin fish can also outrage religious people. When they first came out in the 90s, my ex had one on his car, which resulted in a string of damage to the car as someone would break it off and he'd replace it, and ultimately a federal civil rights investigation because this was happening in a NASA parking lot.)
posted by immlass at 8:58 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]


The statue, with the children, reminds me of the scene from Clarke's "Childhood's End" where the Overlords - who look like Satan - have their first photo op with humans.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:44 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


And worse it's trolling with the support of a community saying "Yeah! Fuck them!"

I take a ten commandments statue in a courthouse of all places as a big "Yeah! Fuck them!" directed at me, as a non-christian.

Maybe, if we're lucky, this will help someone realize that putting religious sculptures on public property is not just "technically unconstitutional", but is super antagonistic to other religions.

Maybe it won't and the state representatives will just mad and put more religious sculptures around. I don't know. But I'm sure not going to accept any damn "tone arguments", that non-christians should just play nice and not bother anyone while waiting years for the repetitive lawsuits to play out in the courts to get these struck down. This is possibly the most minor protest over the lack of respect for minority groups that has ever occurred, and already it's too much for some people because it might be "trolling" or "insulting". Well I'm too tired of being insulted to care about that.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:39 AM on May 3 [27 favorites]


If the intent of the people who made the statue was "to actually get the statue placed next to the monument of the 10 Commandments, because that would make Christians angry, and that would be good for a laugh", I'd call them trolls, but to me it's pretty obvious that the intent is closer to "use the threat of the statue as a tool to get people to take down the monument of the 10 Commandments". Trolls just want to piss people off. These people seem like they have an actual agenda beyond just pissing people off.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:00 AM on May 3 [10 favorites]


Yes, I don't see this as trolling or a joke protest. It's intended to call attention to the privileged Christian perspective that sees religious monuments on government property as normal and proper (when they're Christian) and not as what they are: the unconstitutional use of government to promote a religious perspective.

This is a tried and true tactic used by organizations like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Americans United. A government school might allow a religious group to unconstitutionally distribute religious materials, but when a local Humanist group asks to distribute its own materials, the schools realize their error and end the illegal distribution or revise it to an equal access public forum that passes constitutional muster.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:11 AM on May 3 [6 favorites]


I have personally had this exact debate with callers-in to CBC radio. Back in middle school/high school, the multiple school boards (most some flavour of christian, with one "secular" that was really just pan-christian) amalgamated to 1 secular board, I went to a different school than expected, a formerly catholic school, due to french immersion. The school, when I went there, still had a cross on the outer wall, crosses in most classrooms, and for a brief time a statuette of the Virgin Mary. This was in 2000 (or so).

I and my father were trying to get the crosses down, or barring that, allow us to put up some Stars of David, being nominally Jewish. And I remember one of the call-ins saying essentially "when will it stop? Do we have to put Satanic symbols on our schools?" ...and a classmate's mother calling in and telling us that we were going to hell.

I sometimes regret that we didn't make it into an actual court case, but on the other hand I had already been beaten up once or twice by other students over it.

So yeah, definitely put me in the "not trolling" camp. They're doing good work here.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:01 PM on May 3 [5 favorites]


They're fucking trolling and being jerks about it. Just because a lot of people hate public religious symbolism doesn't mean they put up the Ten Commandments just to fuck with people. I also don't think a lot of people would be cheering as loudly if it was the Church of Objectivism or the Church of the Firearm doing this.
posted by corb at 3:49 PM on May 3


This isn't about "public religious symbolism." People are free to put up public displays on their own property or their church's property. To do so on government property such that a religious viewpoint is endorsed is unconstitutional. Submitting applications for a Satanist display or a Hindu display is not provocation for sake of provocation. It exposes the presumption of those who would have the state promote their religion.
posted by audi alteram partem at 4:31 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


I've always undestood the Ten Commandments symbolism was as a codification of a society's laws and moral precepts. So clearly the tablet next to Baphomet should have a Satan-friendly set of laws. I'm blending the traditions a bit but how about "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will." Who doesn't agree with that?
posted by Nelson at 4:46 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


Just because a lot of people hate public religious symbolism doesn't mean they put up the Ten Commandments just to fuck with people.

So what? Putting up Christian symbols and not allowing the symbols of other religions (even ones we personally consider laughable or even harmful, cf Scientology) is illegal, discriminatory, and unconstitutional. Putting up Christian symbols at a courthouse to say "this is the origin of our law" is actually pissing on some of the laws that should be upheld in the courthouse.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Well that's kind of the law for Christians where public monuments are concerned anyway, right? /hamburger, sorta
posted by immlass at 4:49 PM on May 3 [6 favorites]


corb: "They're fucking trolling and being jerks about it. Just because a lot of people hate public religious symbolism doesn't mean they put up the Ten Commandments just to fuck with people. I also don't think a lot of people would be cheering as loudly if it was the Church of Objectivism or the Church of the Firearm doing this."

I think many people, including me, enjoy watching the Satanists turn the table on the Christians. This is a clear example of the double standard and privilege that the Christian majority holds. That's why we have separation of church and state in the constitution, which makes it crystal clear that there shouldn't be any religious displays on public property. This statue will never be erected there, but maybe this will be the thing that gets the ten commandments removed. If so, then this was a worthwhile exercise.

I do have to admit that is a pretty damn handsome statue, though.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:50 PM on May 3 [9 favorites]


Who said anything about the ten commandments monument being put up "to fuck with people"? I honestly have no idea what this argument is about.
posted by kiltedtaco at 5:03 PM on May 3


Who said anything about the ten commandments monument being put up "to fuck with people"?

Considering that the first commandment is "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," it pretty well fucks with anyone who is religious but not Christian by definition.
posted by localroger at 5:09 PM on May 3 [7 favorites]


Oh I agree, as I said above, but I still can't parse corb's comment.
posted by kiltedtaco at 5:19 PM on May 3


Nelson: "I've always undestood the Ten Commandments symbolism was as a codification of a society's laws and moral precepts."

Which would be fine, in theory anyways, if they only concerned themselves with the "thou shall not commit adultery/murder/larceny" sort of rules but the preeminent commandments are all about enforcing the religion under which the commandments were issued to the exclusion of others.
posted by Mitheral at 5:24 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Who said anything about the ten commandments monument being put up "to fuck with people"? I honestly have no idea what this argument is about.

Erm....you? At least that's how I took your "I take a ten commandments statue in a courthouse of all places as a big "Yeah! Fuck them!" directed at me, as a non-christian."
posted by corb at 5:43 PM on May 3


Don't forget -- the origin of Satan was not that of an evil opposition to God, but that of a loyal angel who visited the righteous with affliction in order to prove their righteousness. Like a court prosecutor. It's no trick being good if you have everything and have never suffered; how about proving your worth?

(I seem to remember Dr. Robert Price talking, in the Bible Geek, about the idea of an explicitly evil Satan being a migration from Zoroastrianism, but could well have my facts wrong there. It seems the idea of Satan being evil was floating around at the time of Jesus.)
posted by JHarris at 5:53 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Just because a lot of people hate public religious symbolism doesn't mean they put up the Ten Commandments just to fuck with people.

A doesn't mean B. But B is still true. Why did a Republican legislator in 2012 personally finance and put up a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state's high court? To say "Fuck you, non-Christians!" It's really hard to imagine any other purpose that it could have.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:57 PM on May 3 [4 favorites]


Oh, this is a super new thing? My bad, I think I was confusing it with another battle on this stuff about a statue that was put up in the 50's. I mean, I still think the citizens are the losers in this war, but it does mean that nobody has the moral high ground.
posted by corb at 6:03 PM on May 3


Oh ok, I guess I over-interpreted the difference between "fuck you" and "fuck with". I do think the statue is a big fuck you to non-christians. Having the audacity to respond to such a thing doesn't make someone a jerk in my book.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:23 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that all the YEAH THE US IS TOTALLY CHRISTIAN TO THE EXCLUSION OF ALL OTHERS stuff erected in the 50s was very much a big Fuck-You to communists. So still very I-Like-Jesus-Because-Fuck-You.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:29 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


But it's still trolling. And worse it's trolling with the support of a community saying "Yeah! Fuck them!". Not just a single random asshole.


fishmasta, I have to disagree. These Ten Commandments statues don't just pop up everywhere and they don't just pop everywhere that Christians are the religious majority (which is pretty much everywhere in the United States.) They sure do seem to pop up in places where the majority is a certain kind of conservative Christian who is worried about a presumed anti-Christian culture war. I grew up in a Christian community. They were liberal, left-coast Catholics at a Paulist run Newman Center in a college town. They never would have tried to get a 10 Commandments statues erected at a government center. The reason that statues like that Ten Commandments monument go up in the first place is as a dominating "fuck you" to non-Christians in the local community. Most of the people supporting this aren't Satanists and they're not necessarily Atheists. They seem to be people who are getting tired of being trolled by the religious right in the U.S. and are attempting to respond to the hypocrisy.

Will anyone really be surprised if instead of installing the Baphomet statue, they take down the Ten Commandments?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:23 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


Will anyone really be surprised if instead of installing the Baphomet statue, they take down the Ten Commandments?

I get the very strong vibe that this is actually the desired endgame and the folks making the statue will be perfectly happy if it's never displayed anywhere, being driven away again and again from places where 10 commandments and similar displays are also removed.

Of course, having an actual statue ready to go raises their game in serious way the Christianizas probably never anticipated. It's not just words, they have an actual bronze casting ready to plop next to your Ten Commandments or Nativity scene or whatever. Shit just got real, assholes.
posted by localroger at 7:29 PM on May 3 [12 favorites]


I agree with you, ActingTheGoat (very appropriate name for this thread, btw. I approve of the crazy random coincidence). The people that put the Ten Commandments statue were trolling too. They were being fucking assholes trying to assert themselves as right and everyone else as wrong. I don't think it was right to have happened in the first place. I think they were deliberately doing it to say "we're right/you're wrong". And that's bullshit. They're dumb people that got elected because they played to the religious domineering public that wants to throw up a monument asserting how right they are because everyone else is a heathen or some nonsense. They're not good people and did this to be antagonistic originally.

I just don't think the answer to someone being a dick is being a dick back. I'm not saying anyone should shy away from telling them just how wrong they are. I'm not saying they shouldn't use every available avenue to have the Ten Commandments statue taken down. I'm absolutely not saying they should in any way not feel hurt and angry that this shit happened in the first place. But I really do think that people shouldn't be assholes. Even if someone was an asshole against you. Fight as hard as you can to get rid of the nasty thing they did and tell them each and every day how awful it was. But don't stoop to their level.
posted by fishmasta at 8:34 PM on May 3


I'm not saying they shouldn't use every available avenue to have the Ten Commandments statue taken down.

You just said exactly the opposite of that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:55 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


fishmasta, the problem is that the kind of jerks who put Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses believe they are better than you and that they are justified in acting like assholes if that's what it takes to pound their message home to us poor hellbound unbelievers.

A lot of them are deeply insecure, and you see this rhetoric pop up a lot when they are discussing atheists among themselves how without the threat of Hell and the promise of constant supervision by an omniscient and jealous God they believe nobody would behave decently. They think the world needs these reminders of their faith. Their god has told them it is OK to be assholes in the furtherance of his message because without it His world will fall apart.

So what this group has done is something that is actually effective against such people. Sure, you can have your ten commandment monument, you've rigged the game to make that acceptable but if you do, here comes Lord Baphomet. The fact that it's a more physically impressive monument is gravy.

(As an aside, the idea of honoring God through works of art and architecture is something American Protestants really don't seem to get. Tour a few Catholic basilicas and when you come back to the heartland the churches are all like "We love God so much we built Him a warehouse.")

The point isn't really to have the Baphomet statue installed anywhere, it's to poison the well that makes it possible for the other monuments to be installed on public property, which never should have been allowed in the first place. The people responsible for those monuments are small-minded arrogant creeps who think they are doing God's work by waving His words in everyone's face. The Baphomet statue is just a way of saying OK, you want to rig the game so everyone who shows up to fight a traffic ticket has to walk past your Bible verses, they can walk past our little inspirational tableaux too. And if you don't like that, we can all just walk away and do it the way it should have been done all along, on private property.
posted by localroger at 5:21 AM on May 4 [8 favorites]


I just don't think the answer to someone being a dick is being a dick back.

When a dick throws the first punch, throwing the second punch isn't being a dick, it's defending yourself.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:11 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


I just can't understand the idea that the religious majority in this country needs to be protected from the exact same behavior that they commit against others.

It's like there's this giant discrepancy between what the religious majority can get away with and what everyone else is allowed to do, and if anyone in the latter group tries to point that out with anything but the weakest and most feeble voice then woe to them, why are they being so antagonistic, why are they trolling, why are they being jerks. Sure, equal rights for all, but not if it temporarily upsets the religious majority! Wouldn't it be terrible if there was a statue on a courthouse lawn that didn't represent their beliefs?
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:14 AM on May 4 [9 favorites]


It's odd to see those defending secular government being cast as assholes when asking for equal treatment given the history of retaliation against pro-secular advocates including harassment, threats and pet killings from those who wish the state to promote their religion and their religion alone.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:35 AM on May 4


It's like there's this giant discrepancy between what the religious majority can get away with and what everyone else is allowed to do

'like'? You just described reality.

This is not trolling. This is not being assholes. This is a legitimate, if fringe, religious group asking the government to treat their religion the same.

something something shall make no law concerning religion something something. I can't remember the exact words.

Equal treatment for everyone. That's what your Constitution enshrines. That's what these people are fighting for, no matter how silly we (or anyone) thinks their antics are.

Think about that: a miniscule fringe religious group--Satanists, no less--is fighting, hard, for equal rights.

I just don't think the answer to someone being a dick is being a dick back.

They're not being dicks. They're demanding their rights as granted by the Constitution.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:25 PM on May 4 [7 favorites]


Apparently this guy has never actually met a proper git-r-done redneck. Not only do they have huge trucks with reinforced tow bars, winches and come-alongs, they also have shotguns with slug rounds, and most of 'em probably know how to make or obtain black powder, thermite, or TNT.

Going into the statistics a little more, it appears your proper git-r-done redneck will have an uphill battle disposing of this thing. It's going to be far too heavy to remove with an ordinary pickup truck, and will probably have to be installed with a fairly substantial crane. It's also going to be very hard to do much more than minor cosmetic damage to it; bullets are just going to bounce off of it leaving minor dings (even 50-cal and shotgun slugs). It will laugh at fire. Enough thermite to do more than singe its surface features is going to create a flare visible across all of Oklahoma City, and enough dynamite to seriously damage it would blow out windows all over the capitol complex.

If it were in the middle of a rural field I'd say the rednecks would figure out how to have their way with it, but being on the grounds of the state capitol in these post-9/11 days I can't see them getting the kind of equipment in place they would need to do a seriously complete job of either destruction or removal. And if they should, the Hydra-like insurance policy will replace it with two more.
posted by localroger at 2:50 PM on May 4


They chose a really great sculptor who has made something that without the rhetoric and obvious symbol on the throne is simply gorgeous fantastical art.

Who endorses regular prostate exams as well, apparently.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:09 PM on May 4


Firing shotgun rounds at Baphomet is a sure way to get him ornery.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:18 PM on May 4


Even if this succeeds in getting the Ten Commandments removed from public property, I hope that the Baphomet statue ends up somewhere, because damn, that's one handsome statue.
posted by acb at 4:33 PM on May 4


I would imagine that if it ever does get publicly installed there will be a very busy tumblr of people sitting in the Dark One's lap.
posted by localroger at 5:06 PM on May 4


Going into the statistics a little more, it appears your proper git-r-done redneck will have an uphill battle disposing of this thing. It's going to be far too heavy to remove with an ordinary pickup truck, and will probably have to be installed with a fairly substantial crane. It's also going to be very hard to do much more than minor cosmetic damage to it; bullets are just going to bounce off of it leaving minor dings (even 50-cal and shotgun slugs). It will laugh at fire. Enough thermite to do more than singe its surface features is going to create a flare visible across all of Oklahoma City, and enough dynamite to seriously damage it would blow out windows all over the capitol complex.

I predict lots and lots of spray painted threats. Mostly misspelled.
posted by SPUTNIK at 8:59 AM on May 5


I predict lots and lots of spray painted threats.

No doubt. Easily cleaned from bare metal in a matter of minutes with spray paint and decal remover.
posted by localroger at 9:44 AM on May 5


an uphill battle disposing of this thing.

Scrap metal prices aren't rising?
posted by glasseyes at 9:54 AM on May 5


Supreme Court Allows Prayers at Town Meetings
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a town in upstate New York did not violate the Constitution by starting its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month” who was almost always Christian.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that divided the court’s more conservative members from its liberal ones, said the prayers were merely ceremonial. They were neither unduly sectarian nor likely to make members of other faiths feel unwelcome.

“Ceremonial prayer,” he wrote, “is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.”
If I were a practicing and believing Christian, I hope I'd be the kind that would be depressed and kind of offended that my expressions of faith and belief are merely ceremonial and don't have any real meaning.
posted by rtha at 9:57 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


It appears it may not be as hard to fuck up a bronze statue as it appears. And sure, insurance lets them Hydra it right now, but eventually, they'll stop insuring it or ask more money to insure it.
posted by corb at 10:16 AM on May 5


Scrap metal prices aren't rising?

It doesn't matter how high scrap prices are if you can't physically remove the statue because it's too heavy and too difficult to section.

It appears it may not be as hard to fuck up a bronze statue as it appears.

Note that even this much smaller statue (it's only half a ton) was neither removed nor broken into multiple pieces by its vandals. (I get the impression Baphomet will not be hollow, and may weigh over 7,000 lb.)

Should someone manage to do such extensive damage it would be a much cheaper operation to recover the bronze and recast it since the Baphomet people are making a mold of the model. This would probably cost less than $10,000.
posted by localroger at 11:08 AM on May 5


I've known about this for some time, but I didn't realize that it allowed people to sit on Satan's lap for contemplation.

That makes me positively giddy.
posted by inertia at 1:22 PM on May 5


Ideally, any heavily weaponized or industrial grade efforts to remove Baphomet from the court should be good for some 'OMG Terrorism' editorials and to fund more military gear for the local police force.

That is, provided the local residents, media, building security, and police weren't all coincidentally looking the other way at the time. Funny how a statue can be vandalized in such a public place without anyone seeing anything. Those backhoe tracks just appeared out of nowhere! Luckily the 10C monument survived unscathed...
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:36 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


That is, provided the local residents, media, building security, and police weren't all coincidentally looking the other way at the time. Funny how a statue can be vandalized in such a public place without anyone seeing anything. Those backhoe tracks just appeared out of nowhere! Luckily the 10C monument survived unscathed...

Something like that could only be explained as a miracle.
posted by acb at 1:48 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I envision authorities purposefully not noticing someone working it over for several hours with a plasma cutter.

I stand by my assertion that it will be a cold day in Hell before this actually gets installed.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:35 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


People underestimate the difficulty of working with very heavy things. This is something I deal with every day because I work for a scale company -- heavy things weighing tens of thousands of pounds are a regular deal for us. It is *hard* to destroy a piece of metal that large and heavy with portable tools in a reasonable amount of time. The machines that can do it make a lot of noise and light. Even if the authorities decide "not to notice" such a dramatic operation, does that guarantee that every single passerby with a cell phone will too? After spending $30K to have it placed does it seem likely that the people who paid for it might keep a watch to bust just such shenanegans?
posted by localroger at 6:02 PM on May 5


If they kept a watch, I would foresee a counter-watch, or a "ring around the statue" - similar to how people react to the WBC.
posted by corb at 5:45 AM on May 6


This is what happens when you try and bring Satan to Oklahoma
posted by exogenous at 12:44 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Our state legislature does the devil's work, so I'm pretty sure Satan's already here.
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:58 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


If they kept a watch, I would foresee a counter-watch, or a "ring around the statue" - similar to how people react to the WBC.

That doesn't make any sense. All it would take is someone walking by the site every half-hour or so to make sure nobody had pulled a truck full of heavy tools up to it. No obvious or visible presence to counter-whatever, just eyes to take license plates and descriptions sound an alarm if something illegal should happen at an odd hour.
posted by localroger at 4:33 PM on May 9


« Older The literary novel as an art work and a narrative ...  |  So it's Kentucky Derby time, o... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments