The Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple made a controversial splash late Saturday night after the group unveiled a one-ton Satanic monument. The devilish reveal took place shortly before midnight at an industrial building by the Detroit River, with celebrants shouting "Hail Satan" during the big moment, according to the Guardian.
The group hopes to use the monument in their effort to protest religious-themed monuments on public land.
The statue features a nearly 9-foot tall bronze sculpture of Baphomet on a throne bearing a pentagram. A boy and girl stare up in adoration from either side. The mythical goat-headed monster stretches back centuries in anti-Christian lore to the medieval Knights Templar, who were accused of worshiping it shortly before their bloody destruction by the Pope in 1314.
While news of monument filtered out online weeks ago, organizers kept the actual location of the event secret until the last possible moment. In an attempt to head off protesters, ticket holders were only emailed the address shortly before the festivities began.
Nevertheless, a small contingent of concerned Christians still found a way to make their voices heard, protesting at the site of a local business that had previously tried to display the statue. "The last thing we need in Detroit is having a welcome home party for evil," Dave Bullock, a local pastor, said in a widely reported quote.
While on its face, the evening may have had the veneer of a religious celebration, in reality it was far more. According to Jex Blackmore, the director of the Detroit Satanic Temple, the group plans to take Baphomet on the road more than 800 miles south to Arkansas, where the state's governor recently signed a bill that would allow a monument to the Ten Commandments to be erected on the grounds of the capitol in Little Rock, Reuters reported.
Previously, the Satanic Temple had attempted to force the statue alongside another Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma. To avoid that hellish prospect, the State Supreme Court ruled the Ten Commandments statue in violation of the state's constitution and ordered it removed — something the state's governor has so far ignored.
Even a quick look at the Satanic Temple website reveals an organization at least equally interested in political activism as devil-worship. The organization's home page sports a press release documenting their work using religious exemptions to protect women's reproductive rights. The group made a minor splash earlier this year with an attempt to challenge restrictive abortion laws in Missouri, in part by using a religious freedom argument successfully employed in the Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The effort remains ongoing.
Whether Baphomet ultimately ends up in Arkansas or anywhere is hard to say, but the Satanic Temple's mission is clear and any American town with a religious monument on public lands could be next.
Efforts by Mic to reach the Satanic Temple were unsuccessful; the organization's website went down around 8 a.m. Monday morning. The cause of the outage is unclear. The website has since been restored.