Last month, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court ruled that officials must remove a nearly six-foot-tall statue of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state’s capitol, thwarting the Satanic Temple‘s plans to install its own statue of Baphomet to challenge government endorsement of religious symbols. The group now plans to unveil the never-before-seen bronze sculpture, which represents Satan as a goat-headed figure, in Detroit on Saturday night at an event dubbed “The Unveiling.” Unsurprisingly, the Baphomet bash is causing a stir.
Today, a group of pastors shared a poster promoting a prayer rally and protest of the ticketed event, billed as “a hedonistic celebration” to launch the Satanic Temple’s “largest fight to date in the name of individual rights to free exercise against self-serving theocrats.” The poster, which oddly has the same aesthetic of the Satanic Temple’s website, features a photograph of the statue between the words “NOT ON OUR WATCH” and the names of dozens of pastors. The opposition effort is spearheaded by Pastor David Bullock of St. Matthew Baptist Church, who told Christian Today that the unveiling of the Baphomet sculpture amounts to “valorizing, elevating Satan.”
“The last thing we need — in a city where we’re fighting against violence and fighting against economic problems and unemployment and the water crisis — is a statue dedicated to Satan right downtown,” Bullock added. The Satanic Temple does not actually worship Satan, and the statue’s presence in Detroit is only temporary, but many others in the local Christian community are taking to social media to call for the statue’s destruction. The Satanic Temple originally planned the Unveiling at Bert’s Market Place in Detroit’s Eastern Market area, but its owner backed out after receiving threats about burning down the venue, as AP reported.
The group chose Detroit as the site of Baphomet’s unveiling because the city is also home to the Satanic Temple’s first national chapterhouse, as Jex Blackmore, part of the Satanic Temple’s executive ministry, explained to Metro Times. Blackmore said the Satanic Temple has a strong following in the area but that he is not surprised by calls to protest the event and destroy the sculpture, which the Unveiling’s event description says “stands as a testament to plurality and the power of collective action.”
“It’s an incredibly charged object — even the idea of it is just charged,” Blackmore told Metro Times. “It’s a really amazing thing to witness the kind of connotations important people place on it on both sides. We have purchased excellent insurance for the object. We will have an ample amount of security at the event. Of course we respect and even encourage people to express their opinions on either side because it’s healthy and it’s part of democracy.”
The event will occur at a secret location, to be revealed to ticket holders on Saturday. Baphomet may eventually follow through on its original cause and move to a spot near the Arkansas Statehouse, where lawmakers recently approved the installation of a Ten Commandments monument similar to the one in Oklahoma.