Fighting ugly with ugly

As usual, I’m torn. Is the answer to one ugly, pretentious monument to superstition to put up another ugly, pretentious monument to superstition? It’s the strategy we seem to be going with, anyway, because apparently too many people are able to grasp abstract principles. So the Satanists are trying to erect a statue to Baphomet in the Arkansas capitol.

I get it, really I do. They’re highlighting the hypocrisy of government favoring one religion over another. The Satanists understand that, too.

Satanic Arkansas cofounder Ivy Forrester, who helped organize the rally, said “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.”

It’s especially true when one of the advocates for putting up a Ten Commandments monument, Senator Jason Rapert, says this sort of thing.

In an online statement, Rapert said he respected the protesters’ First Amendment rights, but also called them “extremists” and said “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.”

OK, fine. I consider Southern Baptists to be extremists, and the Ten Commandments to be a terrible set of laws, and celebrating them with an offensive statue to be a violation of my rights. I guess every day is a cold day in Hell in America.

Besides, the Christian monument is also ugly. It looks like a damned tombstone.

Let’s just not have any at all, OK?


  1. Saad says

    But together as one monument (Baphomet urinating on the Ten Commandments) it would be a beautiful sight.

  2. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I know, and agree with the OP, ~~conceptually~~.
    pragmatically, it needs to be demonstrated, physically, how offensive religious icons on government properties are to people not members of the icon’s religion.
    Not enough to only tell them we’re offended, they need to feel it themselves.
    Baphomet, we know, is being put there specifically because no one in town is a member of this mythical religion, to demonstrate what it feels like to see someone else’s religious icon highlighted on state property.
    I bet the Rapert quote was motivating as well: cold day in HELL, right back atcha Rapper-tee

  3. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    I like it, but I liked it even more when a Hindu community argued for one of their gods to be displayed in a similar situation a few years back (don’t know if anything ever came of it, mind). Because nobody can pretend that that’s just people trying to be bothersome or whatever. With Satanists, it’s always easy for the rightist media to pretend it’s just a joke or intentional insult, but if every religious group under the sun were to do this with their own icons, it’d probably be a very powerful statement. Get the Wiccans in there – the Evangelicals can’t tell them from Satanists, anyway – and – in the current climate – an Islamic monument would be particularly poignant, too. Although I’m not exactly sure what that could be, considering the aniconic restrictions; perhaps just a big crescent moon?

  4. Saad says

    Saganite, #3

    in the current climate – an Islamic monument would be particularly poignant, too. Although I’m not exactly sure what that could be, considering the aniconic restrictions; perhaps just a big crescent moon?

    That would be great. It could be an installation with intricate calligraphy from the Quran.

    It doesn’t even have to be strictly Islamic. It could also be a statue of Saladin. I’m sure right-wingers would be fuming once they look up who that was. :)

  5. Saad says

    I would nominate the verses:

    “Jesus said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah . He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.”


    “It is not befitting for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.”

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    For all the years I’ve followed the Church/State debate, I often hear fundies claim that atheist opposition to public displays of religious faith are motivated by indignation rather than concern over religious privilege in state power. e.g. Prayer in school “offends” atheists. “Merry Christmas” offends atheists. The mere mention of Jesus in pubic offends atheists. etc..

    Of course, as we all know, being “offended” by something is not seen as a valid objection to it, and can therefore our opposition can be dismissed as irrational, emotional, “hypersensitive,” “political correctness,” and so forth.

    Then I see the following quoted above:


    blockquote>…it will be a very cold day in hell before an offensive statue will be forced upon us …


    blockquote> (Emphasis Mine)

    Oh, he’s opposed to this statue because it offends him, eh? Well, man up you hypersensitive snowflake! I swear, political correctness is ruining everything!

  7. albz says

    Pastafarianism is the Way. Fight religion with religion -possibly a pacific, unobstrusive one.
    Anyway I quite like that Baphomet statue. Apart from the kids standing beside him: they really scare me.

  8. marinerachel says

    OMG I thought it WAS a tombstone! Who the hell decided it should look and be displayed like that?

  9. leerudolph says

    marinerachel@9: “Who the hell decided it should look and be displayed like that?” The (or at least some) conventional iconography of the Tablets of the Law (from the Moses mythos) has the same outline (search Google Images for “tablets of the law icon” and you’ll see many examples). But actual thinking designers realize that the outline is, after all, supposed to be of two adjacent tablets (each with its own rounded top) and line up the text (or text-standin) in a double column (so, 5 Commandments on each tablet). The non-thinking designer of the monstrosity under consideration didn’t do that. Major design fail! (Of course, the Principles of Good Design aren’t written in stone…)

  10. Usernames! 🦑 says

    Sorry, but they got the wrong commandments. Those were broken by Moses and YHWH provided new, improved replacements.

    Here are the “REAL” commandments, from Exodus 34:

    Exodus 34:

    I. Thou shalt worship no other god
    II. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods
    III. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.
    IV. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.
    V. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.
    VII. And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
    VIII. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.
    IX. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
    X. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.
    Xa. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

    Protect the wheat, and don’t mix it with blood for chrissakes.

  11. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Making the attribution, part of the engraving, rather than an attached brass plaque, adds a little more irreverence to this “sacred” shrine, gee they can’t even get themselves correct

  12. Holms says

    Let’s just not have any at all, OK?

    Sure, yes, but it seems the only way to do this is to drag the christianity out of government spaces kicking and screaming. First, by suing the shit out of any person or agency that violates freedom of religion by trying to deny non-christian religious icons and such; then by absolutely stuffing these venues to the gills with monuments to other religions. And the key groups to do this are the satanists and muslims, as both cause christian nitwits to recoil in horror.

    All because they refuse to keep their religion out of government.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    Let’s just not have any at all, OK?

    I have often heard theocrats–the most recent being Brent Kavanaugh–make the argument that NOT invoking a deity in an attempt to maintain religious neutrality somehow constitutes government approval of atheism and is therefore unconstitutional.

  14. Saad says

    I don’t see how government approval of atheism would violate the first amendment. It clears the “no laws respecting an establishment of religion” part and approval of atheism doesn’t prohibit the free exercise of religion either. How would that argument even get off the ground in a serious discussion?

  15. jazzlet says

    Saad @16
    Because of the frequent, but ridiculous assertion that atheism is just another religion, particularly common from fundies.

  16. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Jazzlet, we know the fundies lie, but for the first amendment protection, SCOTUS treats non-belief as equivalent to a religion.

    Second, the Supreme Court has held the Free Exercise Clause to mean that government may not express a preference for “religion over irreligion.”2 In 2005, Justice O’Connor, concurring with the majority’s conclusions in McCreary County v. ACLU, was more explicit:

    The Religion Clauses . . . protect adherents of all religions, as well as those who believe in no religion at all.

  17. colinday says

    because apparently too many people are able to grasp abstract principles.

    Really, that’s a problem? Or should there be a “not” in there?

  18. jazzlet says

    Thanks Nerd, not being American I don’t tend to know the finer details of these things.

  19. Akira MacKenzie says

    Saad @ 16:

    Atheism isn’t a religion per se, but it’s certainly a philosophical position about religion which the First Amendment protections touches upon. The working theory is that while it is wrong for the government to endorse a particular god/gods, it would also be wrong for the government to officially declare that there is no god at all.

    That said, the argument I mentioned is still ridiculous on it’s face. Not mentioning X is not the same as saying that X doesn’t exist.

  20. Artor says

    I guess ugly is in the wire of the beholder. I think the Baphomet stator is a beautiful piece of work, and I commend both the talented artist who sculpted it, and the Satanic Temple for commissioning it. I doubt they expect it to ever grace the lawn of the Arkansas courthouse, but it makes a spectacular bludgeon to use on the dominionists who insist on treating public spaces as their private fiefdoms.

  21. F.O. says

    The Satanic Temple are not superstitious.

    It is the position of The Satanic Temple that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. The Satanist should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.
    Satan is symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds. Satan is an icon for the unbowed will of the unsilenced inquirer… the heretic who questions sacred laws and rejects all tyrannical impositions. Ours is the literary Satan best exemplified by Milton and the Romantic Satanists, from Blake to Shelley, to Anatole France.

  22. Snarki, child of Loki says

    In response to the Fundies 10 Commandments, I demand JUST ONE.

    To be placed prominently near the highest courthouse nearby:


  23. Artor says

    Damn autocorrect on my phone! Obviously, that was supposed to be eye of the beholder, and the Baphomet statue.

  24. wzrd1 says

    marinerachel@9: “Who the hell decided it should look and be displayed like that?”

    Making it look like a tombstone may be a Freudian slip on their part, indicating a desire for the rule of law to be dead and buried?
    After all, note the group and how frequently adultery is a thing among their group members. Remember the explosion, then scandal driven implosion of the amoral majority?
    Yes, that was a fraudian slip. ;)

    But, to all, is it not better to address this as we’re doing as a group with gender specific pronouns, via neutral pronoun and noun usage?
    Because, frankly, the next person that I hear “thoughts and prayers” from very well may find themselves tripped by my cane.
    Which would suck, as it would be an act of violence and nearly as bad, I’d likely fall down, since the barometer here has been jumping wildly about lately. I’m tiring of replacing pants, whose knees are torn by falls.
    And worse, I might land on the idiot, hopelessly contaminating my clothing.

  25. ridana says

    The 10 C. tombstone looks to me like a cartoon face, circa the Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse era, with the two big eyes and an oddly shaped nose above a huge maw with its tongue lolling out at the bottom while it spews wordstuff.

  26. anchor says

    It should be noted that both of these hideous markers are inspired by precisely the same religious tradition.

  27. johnhodges says

    To educate myself about modern paganism I visited (as an open atheist) meetings of a student group at a local college. In conversation I said something negative about Christian fundamentalists, and all the young pagans looked uncomfortable. One explained to me that they all probably agreed with me in their thoughts, but they do not say such things out loud, because of the Rule of Three. The Rule of Three (sort of a supercharged Golden Rule) and the Wiccan Rede (“If it harms none, do as ye will”) are the only ethical teachings they have, so they take them very seriously. I thought “No wonder the Christians wiped them out! These folks are too nice to live!”

  28. rietpluim says

    Except that the Satanists do not actually believe in Baphomet, so I wouldn’t call this superstition. The Satanic Temple are basically atheists who chose Satan as their symbol.

  29. Raucous Indignation says

    Jebuus, PZ, you sound like a tone troll. Don’t be such an over-thinking, sickly sweetly sensitive dweeb. The fate of the Republic and the heat death of the planet hang in the balance.