Catholics fighting against attacks on Christmas prayed at the Illinois state capitol on Sunday to protest the Satanic Temple's “Snaketivity” statue that's on display next to a menorah and a Christmas tree.
“No government entity should promote the father of lies, as this is contrary to the good they are called to uphold in society,” said Preston Noell, with The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property’s Chicago chapter.
“These public satanic offenses are a direct mockery of Christ’s Nativity and these attacks must be met with opposition, which we are adhering to with prayer,” Noell added, according to The Journal Star.
The 4-and-a-half-foot “Snaketivity” display was erected by The Satanic Temple's Chicago chapter earlier in December and placed next to a Nativity scene and other religious decorations at the state capitol.
The sculpture is called “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift,” and depicts a snake coiling around Eve's hand holding an apple.
Satanic Temple spokesman Lex Manticore told The State Journal-Register that Satan is the "hero" in the Garden of Eden account in Genesis for disguising himself as a snake and persuading Eve to take a bite from a fruit from the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Manticore claimed at the time that despite the organization's name and the satanic images used on its displays, as well as naming its after-school club the After School Satan Club, “Not only do we not worship a literal Satan, but we don’t believe one actually exists. Satan for us is a metaphor. ... Throughout literary history, (it’s) been used as a character that represents rebellion in the face of religious tyranny," Manticore said.
Noell argued, however, that the satanic display is an attempt to “shut down” Christians and “attack Christian civilization.”
“We are a Christian nation,” Noell said. “We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ ... and to equate satanism with anything that is religious like this is an affront to reason.”
On Sunday, the 40 or so Catholics prayed with their rosaries around a statue of Mary represented as Our Lady of Fatima near the capitol.
The conservative group, which is critical of Pope Francis' stance on several issues, has posted a number of petitions on its website, including one that argues that Christmas is "under attack.”
“I will fight to preserve the real reason for Christmas, the birth of the Our Savior Jesus Christ,” reads its pledge for Christmas.
“This Christmas season, when others greet me with a secular message such as, ‘happy holidays’ or ‘season’s greetings,’ I pledge to say ‘Merry Christmas!’”
Dave Druker, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, said that the Satanic Temple’s display will remain at the capitol, however, along with the displays of other religious organizations.
“We appreciate their feelings and expressing their views, but the issue is the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Druker said of the protesters.
The "Snaketivity" display controversy has found its way to late night comedy shows as well.
It was featured on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Tuesday, where host Jimmy Kimmel asked "God," played by actor Billy Crystal, about whether the statue should be removed the capitol grounds. In the comedic skit, the “God” character says he is fine with the statue, as he and Satan have “made up.”