SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A display from the Satanic Temple has been allowed on display in the Illinois Statehouse alongside a Nativity scene and a Menorah, just in time for the holidays.
The sculpture, called "Knowledge is the Greatest Gift," depicts the arm of a woman holding an apple in her hand, with a snake wrapped around the extended forearm. The whole structure, including the base, is 4 1/2 feet tall, reports The State Journal-Register.
The paper reports that the State of Illinois cannot legally censor these types of displays as long as they are not paid for by taxpayer dollars.
“Under the Constitution, the First Amendment, people have a right to express their feelings, their thoughts,” said Dave Druker, spokesman for the secretary of state. "This recognizes that."
Illinois Family Action, a Christian social advocacy group, criticized the display on social media Tuesday:
Satanic Temple monument was added to the #Illinois Capitol rotunda displays. They fail to realize that the little baby in the manger has CRUSHED Satan's head and the gates of hell will NOT prevail. https://t.co/xYXEKeRPus #ILRight #ccot — IL Family Action (@ILfamilyaction) December 4, 2018
Lex Manticore, the leader and spokesman for the Chicago chapter of the Satanic Temple, said the sculpture is inspired by the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden, in which Adam and Eve eat forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge.
“We see Satan as a hero in that story, of course, spreading knowledge,” Manticore told the paper.
Manticore added that the Satanic Temple doesn't actually believe in anything supernatural. “Not only do we not worship a literal Satan," he said. "But we don’t believe one actually exists. Satan for us is a metaphor."
The group's website states that their mission is "to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will."
The group made headlines in August when they unveiled an 8-foot Baphomet statue at the Arkansas State Capitol.
In 2015, the Satanic Temple faced controversy in Detroit when they unveiled a Baphomet statue at a location on Joseph Campau Avenue.
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