The Satanic Temple's Chicago chapter has been allowed to display a sculpture hailing Satan as a "hero" next to a Nativity scene and other Christmas displays at the Illinois state capitol.
The 4-and-a-half feet tall sculpture is called “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift,” and features a woman’s extended hand holding an apple, with a snake coiled around her, reported The State Journal-Register.
Satanic Temple spokesman Lex Manticore confirmed that the arm represents that of Eve in the story of Genesis.
“We see Satan as a hero in that story, of course, spreading knowledge,” Manticore said.
He added that the pursuit of knowledge is “the greatest individual pursuit of bettering yourself, and we believe that you should basically act with the best scientific understanding of the world when you make decisions.”
The Garden of Eden account in Genesis positions that Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, were told by God not to eat from the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan, who transforms into a snake, deceives Eve into taking a bite from a fruit from the tree, and she in turn persuades Adam to follow.
As Christian author Dorothy Valcárcel noted in an op-ed for The Christian Post in December 2008, God "could have left the disobedient Adam and Eve to die" for disobeying His command and bringing death and disorder into the world.
“In the last book and last chapter of the Bible, we are promised that the curse that came from Adam and Eve's fall in Eden — will be broken. And that — dear daughters and sons of Eve — is the ‘compulsion’ of God, to break the curse of sin in your life and mine. This is why, I believe with all my heart, that my loving Father, when He created Adam and Eve, planted a seed in their hearts,” Valcárcel positioned back then.
Manticore added that The Satanic Temple doesn’t believe in “anything supernatural.”
“So that’s no deities,” Manticore said. “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.”
The organization has been campaigning for the First Amendment and the separation of church and state around the country. In August, its Arkansas chapter unveiled its statue of the goat-headed, winged creature called Baphomet at the state capitol, which drew protests from Christians.
"If you're going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others, and if you don't agree with that then let's just not have any at all," argued Satanic Temple's Arkansas co-founder Ivy Forrester.
The Christians at the protest held various signs of biblical scripture, including one quoting John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."