Last week, the American History and Heritage Foundation filed a long-expected application with the Arkansas Secretary of State's office to erect a privately funded monument of the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds. A few days later, the sulfurous provocateurs at The Satanic Temple filed their own application to place a statue of Baphomet — a "goat-headed, angel-winged, androgynous creature," as described in the filing — at the Capitol as well. The group's application quotes Article 2 of the state Constitution to make its point: "No preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship, above any other."
The Satanic Temple previously fought to have the sculpture installed next to a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma Capitol. However, when that state's supreme court neutered the issue by saying the Old Testament monolith had to be removed (it being, you know, religious and all), Baphomet was mothballed in Detroit last year. He — or it, rather — has been eyeing a return to the Bible Belt ever since.
What does it all mean? With our KJV Bible opened to Exodus at our right hand and our dog-eared copy of Aleister Crowley's "Magick" on our left, we perused the recent applications submitted by both groups for signs, sigils and numerological esoterica. Here's what we know so far.
The American History and Heritage Foundation
Dimensions: 6 feet tall; 6,000 pounds
- GARY MOSIER: Those are definitely not flames behind him.
Created by: Gary Mosier of Wilbert Memorials in Tulsa, Okla. (who doesn't look even a little bit Satanic in this picture accompanying this application).
Design inspired by: A similar display at the Texas Capitol building that has survived a constitutional challenge.
Most prominent advocate: State Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), whose 2015 legislation decreed the monument's installation.
Justification of the item's "appropriateness to the Capitol Grounds": "The Ten Commandments are an important component of the foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and the State of Arkansas. ... This monument, therefore, will represent an important part of our state and national history and heritage."
Requested location at Capitol: South side of the Capitol.
The Satanic Temple
Dimensions: 9 feet tall; 2,000 pounds
Created by: Brooklyn-based sculptor Mark Porter, who said he based Baphomet's shapely torso on the physique of Iggy Pop.
Design inspired by: The "Sabbatic Goat" drawn by 19th century French occultist Eliphas Levi (sans exposed breasts).
Most prominent advocate: Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves, who has requested a public debate with Rapert (the senator has refused).
Justification of the item's "appropriateness to the Capitol Grounds": "Our monument will stand in honor of those unjustly accused — the slandered minority, the maligned outgroups who ultimately found a home in the United States where religions are neither opposed nor imposed — so that we might pay respect to their memory and celebrate our progress as a pluralistic nation founded on secular law."
Requested location at the Capitol: Either 20 feet to the side of or one foot directly in front of the proposed Ten Commandments monument.