Religion

American Atheists Files Lawsuit Against Display of Ten Commandments in Oklahoma Capitol

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Oklahoma officials have created quite the problem for themselves. Back in November when (the typo-ridden) one ton Ten Commandments monument went up outside of the Oklahoma Capitol, the state was already preparing for legal challenges. Now, over a year since the monument was installed, American Atheists have filed suit challenging the monument's placement on grounds of both free speech and equal protection.

Interestingly, the lawsuit cites the text of the old film The Ten Commandments as the source material for the monument, which somehow makes it even more perfectly American.

The persecuted religious in this drama are not the atheists or even the Christians themselves, but instead Satanists. Unless the American Atheists lawsuit is successful, the Oklahoma State Government has opened up the floodgates of belief. Local Hindus filed a petition to place a monument to Lord Hanuman—a great green half-monkey/half-man described in a press release as a god “greatly revered and worshipped and known for incredible strength and was a perfect grammarian.” Although it is a request from local Satanists backed by the main Church of Satan in New York City to erect a statue of Baphomet—seated between two adoring children—that has most garnered the most attention.

On Imus in the Morning, executive producer Bernard McGuirk expressed his disgust at the idea, saying (in jest) that they should be shot and calling them (not-so in jest) “evil.” McGuirk’s sentiment echoes that of many Christians who believe modern Satanists are movie-style villains practicing ritual murder, drinking blood, and doing all sorts of evil deeds.

While classic literature depicts Satan as a being who wanted to worship God alone and expressed disdain for mortals, Satanists claim that their religion is the ultimate in self-help. Satanism—at least the version that adheres to the tenets of Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible—is not about worshipping Satan, but is instead about relying on one's self over mythological figures. The symbolism of these two ideologies represented via the Ten Commandments Monument and the Baphomet statue would also be perfectly American—showing that members of two faiths with such polar opposite beliefs can coexist in Oklahoma.

Of course, the Baphomet statue will most likely not be built and the American Atheists will most likely win their suit. Throughout the legal filing, they document how almost all of the commandments—save for those decrying murder and theft—would not pass “constitutional muster.” In fact, the only way to defeat the lawsuit would be for the government to take steps to install monuments (provided they are privately paid for as was the Ten Commandments monument) for every religion that wants one.

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