The proposed Oklahoma Satan statue
A group of devil worshippers from New York City wants to "donate" a statue representing Satan as a winged, goat-headed creature who is embracing children (presumably intending to defile and/or devour them) to be installed on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol, near a privately-funded monument listing the Ten Commandments. Many of my liberal friends are rejoicing on social media, claiming that this is the natural outcome of the state allowing a religious artifact like the Decalogue to defile government property. If the Ten Commandments are allowed, the argument goes, any religious object must be allowed, presumably to include Japanese fertility effigies and altars to Moloch (even though they'd be more appropriately located outside the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic or Democratic Party HQ).
Some Tulsans may remember the controversy over the installation at the Tulsa Zoo of an idol of Ganesha, the Hindu god who has the head of an elephant. The justification was that it was there not as a religious symbol, but as a representation of the importance of the elephant in Indian culture. Likewise for animistic depictions of animals in other parts of the zoo.
The Ten Commandments are not installed at the Capitol as an object of religious devotion, but to mark their influence on our system of laws. Even the first commandment -- "thou shalt have no other gods before me" -- is reflected in principles fundamental to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that government's sovereignty is derivative, not absolute, that no man is above the law, that our inalienable rights are to be protected by government, but they are not granted by government, nor can they be rescinded by government. All this supposes a Creator who is sovereign over all earthly powers and by whom all earthly powers are to be judged.
The Ten Commandments, found in the Jewish scriptures, is honored by every Christian denomination and by other faiths such as Mormonism. Analogues of each commandment may be found in the scriptures of Islam. C. S. Lewis, in the appendix to his book The Abolition of Man, illustrated that the moral and ethical principles in the Ten Commandments could also be found in Eastern religions and ancient pagan religions. Displaying the Ten Commandments does not constitute an establishment of religion as the Founding Fathers would have understood it -- it doesn't create a "Church of the United States" with GS-13s serving as priests and GS-14s as bishops and Congress voting on a United States Book of Common Prayer.
What would a statue of Satan on the lawn of the Capitol represent? At the heart of Satanism is worshipping the self as the one true god; power (whether natural or supernatural) is to be used to subjugate and exploit others for one's own desires. This philosophy is not compatible with the rule of law or the progress of civilization toward justice and prosperity. The Satanic philosophy of self as god is a recipe for civilizational collapse and a "Lord of the Flies" society where might makes right and "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." Someone may object that this is precisely how government and humanity in general operates, and someone would have a point, but it is not the mode of behavior to which we ought to aspire.
Oklahoma's officials are right to reject objects of worship from the capitol grounds, particularly objects that symbolize destructive selfishness. They are right to reject any false equivalency between idols and effigies and the display of the Ten Commandments, a foundational document of Western Civilization.
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