The Satanic Temple has filed a lawsuit against an advertising company for refusing to display billboards promoting abortion as a sacred “religious ritual” that "averts many state restrictions."
Salem, Massachusetts-based TST filed the suit against Louisiana-based Lamar Advertising, which said it would not display eight billboards near pro-life pregnancy centers in Arkansas and Indiana to promote the Temple’s “ritual” that is part of its Religious Reproductive Rights campaign, launched in early August.
TST’s suit claims that the company’s refusal amounts to religious discrimination. Lamar said it found the content of the ads “misleading and offensive,” CBN reported.
One of the ads shows a bowl of cake batter with the words “not a cake” alongside an image of a sperm and egg with “not a baby” written next to it. The ads boast, “Our religious abortion ritual averts many state restrictions.”
“While it is understandable to be concerned with forcing a private entity to engage in speech or conduct it objects to, this scenario is different,” Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves said in a press release. “Lamar initially agreed to work with us and their rejection appears to be religiously based. In addition, they have a virtual monopoly in certain regions. In this way, Lamar is able to regulate public-speech and they are not permitted to selectively exclude religious voices they object to.”
While launching its campaign in August, The Satanic Temple, which is recognized by the IRS as a religious organization, posted a video on YouTube, explaining how it planned to use state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in their favor so women seeking abortions could forego counseling, avoid seeing the sonogram image of their baby or hearing its heartbeat, and refuse to have their baby’s remains cremated or buried.
The video stated that the U.S. Religious Freedom Restoration Act “generally prohibits the government from interfering with a person’s free exercise of religion,” including “the performance of religious rituals.” The Satanic Temple proclaimed that its religious rituals included abortion, which it said “provides spiritual comfort and affirms bodily autonomy and self-worth.”
“Within the states that have enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, religiously performed abortions are exempt from legal requirements that are not medically necessary,” The Satanic Temple contended in the video. The group added that it “will do all it can to assure that states protect the religious rights of our members to obtain first-trimester abortions on demand,” consistent with the view that “thy self is thy master.”
The Satanic Temple is known for taking legal action against state regulations on abortions.
Last year, it sued the state of Missouri over a pro-life law requiring women to read literature declaring that “the life of each human being begins at conception.” The organization failed to prevail, as both the Missouri Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit.