LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An 8-foot Baphomet statue was unveiled at the Arkansas State Capitol on Thursday as part of the Satanic Temple's Rally for the First Amendment.
The rally was in protest of a Ten Commandments monument that currently sits on capitol grounds, reports KATV. The monument was installed last year after being approved by lawmakers in 2015.
In May, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit over the Ten Commandments monument, saying it violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.
Worth noting: In 2017, the Satanic Temple sent Arkansas legislators a letter, asking them to sponsor a bill, that would allow for a statue of Baphomet to be placed on capitol grounds. Not one legislator responded Rep. Kim Hammer tells @KATVNews #arnews #arpx #arleg pic.twitter.com/x6tKm0euhl — Marine Glisovic KATV (@KATVMarine) August 16, 2018
Previously in 2017, the Satanic Temple sent a letter asking Arkansas legislators to sponsor a bill that would allow a Baphomet statue on capitol grounds, but not one lawmaker responded, according to KATV.
A day prior to the Satanic Temple's rally, counterprotesters gathered with signs saying "Honk for Jesus," "We are a Christian Nation," and "Satan has NO rights," among other phrases.
The large statue of the winged goat-creature Baphomet was unveiled during the rally held from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday.
“The event is intended to be an inclusive gathering where The Satanic Temple will be celebrating pluralism along with Christian and secular speakers," Lucien Graves, spokesman and co-founder of the Satanic Temple, told KATV. "People of many faiths will come together at the Capitol to reject the Arkansas State Legislature's efforts to privilege one religion over others."
Arkansas state Senator Jason Rapert, a minister who was the lead sponsor of the law allowing the Ten Commandments monument, responded to the demonstration in a Facebook post.
"No matter what these extremists may claim, it will be a very cold day in hell before an offensive statue will be forced upon us to be permanently erected on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol," Rapert wrote.
The Satanic Temple, on their website, declares it their mission "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."
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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