A giant goat-like statue of Baphomet was unveiled Thursday on the lawn of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock in front of a baying media pack and supporters who chanted “Hail Satan.”
The demonic installation is the culmination of the Church of Satan’s protest against a 2015 bill signed into law in Arkansas that allows “the placement on the State Capitol grounds of a suitable monument commemorating the Ten Commandments.”
Dozens of Satanists gathered as the 8.5-foot statue was unveiled, according to a KLRT reporter who was at the scene.
Meanwhile, supporters were heard chanting, “Hail Satan!” as the statue was erected in front of the State Capitol.
“The event is intended to be an inclusive gathering where The Satanic Temple will be celebrating pluralism along with Christian and secular speakers,” Lucien Greaves, spokesman and co-founder of the Satanic Temple, wrote in a statement obtained by 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.”
Star Telegram reports: Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert, who was the lead sponsor of the bill that is now known as Act 1231, released a statement on Facebook in advance of the Satanst gathering.
“Though our state is being visited today by outsiders who clearly choose to travel around the nation uplifting the profane and proclaiming extremely unorthodox views, rest assured that though we respect their right to free speech, they must also respect our right to disagree with them and repudiate their false claims,” Rapert wrote.
The act’s closing sentence reads, “The placement of the monument under this section shall not be construed to mean that the State of Arkansas favors any particular religion or denomination over others.”
The ACLU of Arkansas sued to challenge the constitutionality of Act 1231 in May, according to a news release. That challenge is still moving through the court system.
The name Baphomet dates back to the Inquisition and the torture of the Knights Templar before the year 1100, according to the BBC. The modern image of the Baphomet goat, which is portrayed in the Satanic Temple’s statue, was drawn by the French occultist Eliphas Levi in 1856.
“It contains all these binary opposites — above and below, part animal, part human, male and female,” Greaves told the BBC. “It embodies opposites and celebrates contrasts.”