Religious leaders in the state of Illinois were up in arms this week, just a few days before the celebration of the first Advent of Christ, as a group of Satanists from the Satanic Temple revealed its holiday display inside the statehouse building.
The display, which is both blasphemous and in extremely poor taste, features a sculpture of an infant version of the Satanic deity known as Baphomet, a goat-like creature, that was placed next to a more traditional style Nativity scene inside the building, according to a report from the State Journal-Register of Springfield.
This, obviously, is a mockery of the birth of Christ.
Members of the Satanic Temple of Illinois shouted, “Hail, Satan!” as one of the leaders, identified only as Minister Adam, described what the display meant to the members of the group.
“The Capitol welcomes a diverse range of religions every year to display holiday statues during the holiday season, so we wanted to join in on that,” the minister stated during a chat with WICS-TV of Springfield.
Just a few steps away, a group of kneeling protesters, a few of them gripping Rosary beads recited the Christian “Hail Mary” prayer. Some of the protesters also held signs that said “Satan Has No Rights,” and “Begone, Satan! Mary Crushes the Serpent!”
The protesters are part of a group known as the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, according to the local news report.
This marks the third year that the Satanic Temple has been granted space inside the Statehouse for an installation, the newspaper reported. No display was erected last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the report said.
A sign posted near the displays by the State of Illinois explained that the groups were both allowed displays because of First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of worship, as granted under the U.S. Constitution, WICS reported.
“The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public display in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars,” the sign said, according to the report. “Because the first floor of the Capitol rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays. The United States Supreme Court has held that public officials may legally impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions regarding displays and speech, but no regulation can be based on the content of the speech.”
Bishop Thomas Paprocki, the leader for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, stated that these kind of installations “should have no place in this Capitol or any other place.”
The sculpture of the infant Baphomet was created by Chris Andres, a horror artist from New Mexico.