- Religion and Philosophy
The Satanic Monument Unveiled
Eliphas Levi Baphomet
Many Gathered for it's Unveiling in Detroit
The leaders of the Satanic Temple, who have chapters in America and around the world unveiled their long talked about Baphomet statue in a private ceremony. This event was labeled as one of the most important milestones to happen in Satanic history since the creation of Satanism as a recognized religion in 1969. Members of the media were not allowed to be present and those that attended the ceremony celebrated afterwards at a private event.
The Satanic temple, formed in 2014, is headquartered in New York, but they also have chapters in Florida, and worldwide located in Finland and Italy. Their largest chapter is in Detroit where the unveiling of the gigantic statue was held nearby the Detroit river. The ceremony was held in private but was well documented for social media. Protesters gathered outside as well in an attempt to prevent the statute's unveiling but luckily there were no incidents during the event.
The Baphomet, a Symbol for Satanism
The statue had been in the works for quite a while, but it was agreed upon by many that the symbol that should represent Satanism should be the Baphomet. The Baphomet was adopted by the founder of the Church of Satan, the late Anton LaVey in the 1960's, taken from Bessy's book of Witchcraft and adopted as a symbol for the forces of Satan. In earlier times, it is most famously known from the 19th century illustration in Eliphas Levi's book describing what Satan symbolized.
It is a cloven hoofed animal with the body of a man and head of a goat. The half-goat, half-man figure, combining elements of man and animal, nature and the metaphysical reminds us that we are not as far removed from nature as some claim to be. The creature has breasts like a woman, but is built like a man, signifying the unity between gender. One hand points upwards and the other downwards with the sign of benediction, showing how the physical and spiritual are one. With the statue that was created, the symbolism of children included was not meant to shock as some have suggested, as it carries a deeper meaning and message about our innocence as children and our return to our natural selves as Satanists.
The leader of the Detroit Chapter of the Temple of Satan, and organizer of the event, Jex Blackmore, was asked by Time magazine about the significance of the Baphomet for Satanists. “Baphomet contains binary elements symbolizing a reconciliation of opposites, emblematic of the willingness to embrace, and even celebrate differences”. The Satanic Temple recognizes Satan as a force of nature, and it is mostly based on the philosophy of individualism, similar to the atheistic belief structure of the original Church of Satan.
The gigantic statue is cast in bronze and stands at almost 9 ft. tall. It is impressive in stature, and it was beautifully crafted and created with care and attention to detail. Brooklyn based artist Mark Porter was commissioned by the Satanic Temple to create the statue, with a price tag of over $100,000 to produce. It was meant to be on public display, for an important reason. See, the Satanic Temple is fighting for a basic right that many of Americans take for granted or don't even give a moment's thought to - our freedom of religion and and freedom from religion.
Freedom From Religion
The statue is historical in that it references America's freedom of religion, which unfortunately is a practice that seems to mostly apply only to religions that are mainstream. The Satanic group in Detroit also created it to combat the practice of placing stones of the Ten Commandments on government property in Oklahoma. If the Christians could have their Ten Commandments at the courthouse, then why couldn't Satanists have their beloved symbol on government property as well? It is not fair for one religious group to have a spotlight in a government institution but even more so it is not Constitutional to ignore the fact that religious items do not belong in government spaces.The United States Constitution states that religion and government should be separate.
This group is no stranger to aiming at fairness in the way that religion is often brought into situations in places where it should have no business. In Florida they fought a similar battle in 2014, when the group published Baphomet and Satanic themed coloring books for distribution in public schools. The books were intended to compliment the Christian themed coloring books distributed in public schools in Florida. Public schools are not supposed to have a religious theme or agenda but apparently some schools in Florida, Texas and elsewhere in the "bible belt" of the United States do.
They also fought for, and won the right to display a religious themed Christmas decoration depicting the fall of Lucifer. in 2014, The holiday decoration was placed in a Florida courthouse along side the Christian display of a nativity scene, and a display created by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an atheist organization. Lucian Greaves, the leader of the Florida Chapter of the Satanic Temple, organized the event, along side a prominent separation of church and state activist organization.
When religious groups outside of mainstream Christianity are afforded the same rights as other more popular groups, only then can we truly have freedom of religion in America. And, only then can we have freedom from religion in our political and social institutions which are meant for the public at large, not for a selected and favored group of individuals.
What do you think? Is it right to have a separation of church and state? Should the government and our public institutions have a focus on religion that is exclusionary to all others? We hope that the actions of the Satanic temple will help to bring about change in America that is desperately needed and has long been ignored in favor of those who claim to be righteous.