The Satanic Temple on Tuesday formally petitioned the state of Arkansas to place the group's controversial Baphomet statue next to the privately funded Ten Commandments monument being planned for the Capitol grounds in Little Rock, and has threatened legal action if their petition is rejected.
In April, Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law instructing the state to erect the Ten Commandments monument, which has opened the door to significant debate concerning the separation of church and state despite the state legislature's argument that the Ten Commandments monument is about history and not religion.
Following the same reasoning, a release from the Satanic Temple on Tuesday cited by Arkansas Times said the statue of their goat-headed god will be a memorial to "various historical witch hunts and homage to the persecuted free-thinkers and 'heretics' who helped inform American secular jurisprudence."
"In a letter sent via certified mail to Arkansas' Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission, The Satanic Temple formally requested permission to place their controversial 'Baphomet' monument alongside a Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol in Little Rock," began the release.
"The request comes in reply to the approval of Senate Bill 939 which has allowed for a privately donated 10 Commandments monument to be placed at the Capitol. The bill hopes to preemptively head-off an Establishment Clause dispute by asserting the secular nature of the 10 Commandments, stating that the monument represents 'an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and the State of Arkansas,'" it continued.
According to the Arkansas Times report, atheists, Hindus and vegans have also been exploring the idea of monuments on the Capitol grounds, but Republican officials aren't gung-ho about the situation.
"TST argues that the influence upon American law symbolized by their monument 'is profoundly clearer [than that of the Decalogue] because not one of the 10 Commandments appears in the U.S. Constitution either in text or spirit," notes the release.
"TST is prepared to pursue legal options if their application is rejected or ignored. 'The Arkansas legislature unwittingly opened the door for our monument to be erected at Little Rock, while they clearly believed they could preference the 10 Commandments," adds TST spokesperson Lucien Greaves. "In fact, the law doesn't work that way. The State either allows for an open forum available to private donors, or it does not. The legislature doesn't need to approve our monument, as the approval of the 10 Commandments already established the parameters by which monuments are allowed on Capitol Grounds. We clearly meet all their criteria with Baphomet."