Speaking of the Devil: Satanic Temple Brings Baphomet Demonic Goat Statue to Arkansas Capitol

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A one-ton, 7-foot bronze statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed winged deity that has been associated with satanism and the occult, was displayed by the Satanic Temple during its opening in Salem, Massachusetts, U.S. September 22, 2016. On Thursday, the Satanic Temple unveiled the statue of Baphomet during a First Amendment rally at the Arkansas State Capitol. Reuters

The Satanic Temple brought a statue of Baphomet—a goat-headed winged deity that has been associated with satanism and the occult—to the Arkansas State Capitol for a rally to protest the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds on Thursday.

The First Amendment rally was attended by atheists, Christians and Satanists, according to The Associated Press.

Throughout the event, speakers took to the stage to demand that the government either remove the monument or install their Baphomet statue as well. The group argued that the existing monument violated their constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Baphomet has arrived at the state capitol to cheers of "Hail Satan!" #arpx #arnews pic.twitter.com/6QFbf1eiTE

— Jessi Turnure (@JessiTurnure) August 16, 2018

"If you're going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others, and if you don't agree with that then let's just not have any at all," Satanic Arkansas co-founder Ivy Forrester said at the rally.

According to a 2017 law, the statue of Baphomet—which depicts a goat-headed, winged creature flanked by two children—would not be permitted to be installed unless it acquired legislative sponsorship.

Republican Senator Jason Rapert sponsored the Ten Commandments monument last year before it was swiftly installed. Less than a day later, a man rammed his car into the statue, destroying it. A new monument was installed in April with additional barricades to protect it from vandalism.

Rapert told the AP that he respected the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, but he condemned the protestors as "extremists." "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," he said.

According to the news agency, the protest drew a crowd of around 150 people and a substantial number of police officers. Nearby, a group of counterprotesters sang Christian songs and held up signs containing verses from the Bible.

Apart from one counterprotester who shouted over a Christian minister who was speaking, the rally was relatively peaceful. Authorities stepped in to escort the individual off the stage.

Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, told Newsweek that the rally was relatively peaceful, apart from a minor altercation with some white supremacists.

"The rally went well and there was a strong police presence to help ensure the peace," he said. "We had a security team that worked directly with the police and though some white supremacists showed, and though I insulted them directly from the stage, the whole thing went off without incident. There were a number of people with unknown intentions with guns loitering around the periphery."

Founded in 2012, Satanic Temple is an international nontheistic religion and political activist group with headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts.

According to its website, the group's 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 novel pursuits guided by the individual will."

This story has been updated to include comment from Greaves.