Tag Archives: God

Circular temple to god of wind uncovered in Mexico City

Working at the site of a demolished supermarket, archaeologists dug 10 feet down to find a temple built more than 650 years ago, researchers said this week.

The circular platform, about 36 feet in diameter and four feet tall, now sits in the shadow of a shopping mall under construction. The site is believed to have been built to worship the god of wind, Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, and the plans to preserve it and make it visible to the public with a large viewing window.

What archaeologists initially found below the old supermarket — shards of pottery and human remains — was expected, said Pedro Francisco Sanchez Nava, national archaeology coordinator for Mexico’s National Anthropology and History Institute.

But deeper down they were surprised to find the temple, which offers another example of how the Mexica-Tlatelolca people worshipped one of their principal deities, Sanchez said. Offerings found included an infant with no signs of trauma, bird bones, obsidian, maguey cactus spines and ceramic figurines of monkeys and duck bills.

The majority of the temple’s original white stucco remains intact. Archaeologist Salvador Guilliem said similar structures, round on three sides and with a rectangular platform on the fourth, have been found before, including in the same area.

The temple lies within the perimeter of a large ceremonial site in the capital’s Tlatelolco neighborhood, though much of that perimeter is invisible, covered by an urban landscape.

Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, researcher emeritus, said modern day Mexico City covers several different pre-Hispanic cities, including Tlatelolco and its rival Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan was a center of political power while Tlatelolco dedicated itself to commerce, with an important market that was noted even by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. Eventually Tenochtitlan took control of Tlatelolco.

When the Spanish and their indigenous allies began conquering Tenochtitlan, residents of that city withdrew to Tlatelolco to continue the fight and Tlatelolco became the last site of resistance against the Spanish in the area.

The site of the recently uncovered temple is just yards away from where Mexican soldiers massacred protesting students in 1968.

Republicans demand right to carry firearms at convention

About 32,000 people so far have signed a Change.org petition to allow guns at the Republican National Convention in the name of safety.  Ohio is an open carry state, but the Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention is being held in July,  is a gun-free zone.

Petition signers contend the ban on firearms will make them “sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers and criminals.”

“Cleveland, Ohio, is consistently ranked as one of the top ten most dangerous cities in America,” the petition says. “By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, the RNC and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside of the convention site.”

That argument has become ubiquitous among members of the National Rifle Association, anti-government militants and gun owners who feel unsafe without weapons. The same argument was made prior to the 2012 RNC in Tampa, but the Secret Service stepped in and banned firearms.

Critics say that Trump and his angry followers present the greatest danger to the RNC. His appearances are often marked with violence toward protesters, blacks, Muslims and others whom Trump rails against from the podium. He encourages his followers to create mayhem.

Protesters effectively shut down a recently scheduled Trump appearance in Chicago by surrounding the area where he was scheduled to speak.

The petition notes that: “All three remaining Republican candidates have spoken out on the issue and are unified in their opposition to Barack HUSSEIN (sic) Obama’s ‘gun-free zones.’”

Petitioners include quotes supporting the universal right to carry firearms from each of the three remaining political candidates (below):

Donald Trump said “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools — you have — and on military bases on my first day. It gets signed my first day … you know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That’s bait.” (Jan. 8. 2016)

Ted Cruz has accurately pointed out “shooting after shooting after shooting happens in so called gun-free zones.” He continued, “look, if you’re a lunatic ain’t nothing better then having a bunch of targets you know that are going to be unarmed.” (Dec. 4, 2015)

And Ohio Governor John Kasich has been a leader in this movement to eliminate deadly “gun-free zones” starting with his brave decision to fight the Democrats and end “gun-free zones” at National Guard facilities in Ohio. (Dec. 18, 2015)

The signers also claim that carrying firearms is a “God-given” right:

“We are all too familiar with the mass carnage that can occur when citizens are denied their basic God-given rights to carry handguns or assault weapons in public. EVERY AMERICAN HAS THE RIGHT TO PROTECT AND DEFEND THEIR FAMILY (sic). With this irresponsible and hypocritical act of selecting a ‘gun-free zone’ for the convention, the RNC has placed its members, delegates, candidates and all US citizens in grave danger.

“We must take a stand. We cannot allow the national nominating convention of the party of Lincoln and Reagan to be hijacked by weakness and political correctness. The policies of the Quicken Loans Arena do not supersede the rights given to us by our Creator in the U.S. Constitution (sic).”

Backlash over a diocese’s post about deer-hunting nun

A Roman Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has removed the Facebook photo of a nun with a 10-point buck she bagged after the posting drew criticism by anti-hunting and animal rights activists.

Sister John Paul Bauer killed the deer on Nov. 30, the first day of hunting season in the state.

The photo posted on the Erie Diocese’s Facebook page showed her, in her nun’s habit, at the back of a pickup holding her trophy deer by the antlers.

Initial comments were largely positive, Anne-Marie Welsh, spokeswoman for the Erie Diocese, in northwestern Pennsylvania, said Monday. But as the page neared 1.5 million views, animal rights activists began taking offense, she said.

“We recognize that social media needs to be a two-way conversation, but unfortunately, many of those who oppose hunting posted vulgar comments, using profanity and even an obscene photograph,” Welsh said. “After careful consideration, we decided to delete the post due to its inflammatory nature.”

In a story about the hunt on the diocese’s website, Bauer said she had just said the rosary up in a tree stand when deer appeared, and she killed the 200-pound buck.

“After I realized I got the deer, I thanked God,” she said.

She said she views hunting as a spiritual endeavor and also a form of conservation, a way to help ensure that the deer population remains at a level that can be sustained by the land.

She had the buck butchered for sausage and steaks and shared it with two families. She also took the 16-inch rack to a taxidermist for mounting.

Bauer teaches at Elk County Catholic High School in St. Marys, a city about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, in the heart of deer and elk hunting country in Pennsylvania. She learned to shoot while in the Navy.

“In St. Marys, this is what you do. You go hunting. Everybody goes hunting,” she told television station WSEE in Erie.

She has killed three bucks and a bear during her 15-year hunting career.

“When you’re up on a tree stand, you’re still, you’re quiet. You listen. You watch as the frosty ground just becomes alive,” Bauer told the TV station. “It’s like creation all over.”

New ‘In God We Trust’ decals on Texas cop cars draw complaints

A police department in a Texas Bible Belt community has placed large “In God We Trust” decals on its patrol vehicles in response to recent violence against law enforcement officers, drawing criticism from a watchdog group that says the decals amount to an illegal government endorsement of religion.

The decision by police to unveil the phrase in Childress, an agricultural community of some 6,100 people at the southern edge of the Texas Panhandle, follows a similar move by dozens of other police agencies elsewhere in the country.

Police Chief Adrian Garcia said he decided to add the decals in response to recent attacks on law enforcement personnel that have received broad attention, including the Aug. 28 killing of a sheriff’s deputy who was shot 15 times at a Houston-area gas station.

“I think with all the assaults happening on officers across the country … it’s time we get back to where we once were,” Garcia told the Red River Sun newspaper. He did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment.

The Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund notes that eight officers have been shot and killed in the U.S. in the last month – and four died in the span of 10 days – but shooting deaths of officers from January through September of this year were actually down 13 percent compared to the same period last year.

Other law enforcement agencies have cited different reasons for adding the phrase to their vehicles. Mark Nichols, the sheriff of Randolph County, Missouri, said he had it added to his department’s fleet in July out of a sense of patriotism.

“It’s our nation’s motto and we want to be patriotic toward our country,” Nichols said.

He said the Missouri Sheriff’s Association previously voted to support adding “In God We Trust” to sheriff’s vehicles across the state.

In fact, of the dozens of complaints about the decals lodged in recent months by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, about half were sent to law enforcement agencies in Missouri. Departments in Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Virginia and elsewhere also received complaints from the foundation, which says it will consider suing but acknowledges it can be difficult finding a plaintiff willing to be publicly identified as challenging the use of the phrase.

Gary Parsons, the sheriff in Lee County in Virginia, said his office spent a total of $50 to have the decals added to about 25 vehicles. He said many people feel their belief system is being trampled and that adding the phrase is a way of pushing back.

“It’s not only a symbol of moral values but also a symbol of patriotism,” he said.

In its letter to Nichols, the foundation said, “Statements about a god have no place on government-owned cars. Public officials should not use their government position and government property to promote their religious views.”

The letter cites the Pew Research Center when it goes on to say that 23 percent of Americans identify as “nonreligious,” up 8 percentage points from 2007.

Rebecca Markert, a senior staff attorney for the foundation, said the First Amendment prohibits government from establishing or even preferring a religion. The growing number of law enforcement agencies adding the phrase to vehicles amounts to a violation of separation of church and state, she said.

While Nichols and other leaders say their communities have been supportive, Markert says it’s important to protect the interests of those whose views may not be broadly supported , such atheists and agnostics.

“The Bill of Rights was passed to protect minority rights against the tyranny of the majority,” she said.

Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for the Texas-based Liberty Institute, a law firm that specializes in issues of religious liberty, said the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts have repeatedly allowed the phrase and other religious overtures as “part of the country’s history and heritage.”

This is why courtroom oaths are protected along with legislative prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance and other acts steeped in religious symbolism, he said.

Charles Haynes, vice president of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C., explained “In God We Trust” began appearing on federal coins in the Civil War era, and Congress in 1956 approved it as the national motto.

The foundation notes in its letter to Nichols that the history of the motto has “no secular purpose,” explaining that it was adopted during the Cold War as a reaction to the “godliness” of communism. It says the country’s original motto, E Pluribus Unum, was purely secular.

Haynes said pitched battles over religious phrases likely will increase as groups like Freedom From Religion become better funded and gain broader support.

“I think we’re going to see a growing number of fights over these symbolic references to god by government,” he said.

With clerk in jail, gay couples get marriage licenses in Kentucky county

A gay couple emerged from a Kentucky county clerk’s office with a marriage license in hand early on Sept. 4, embracing and crying as the defiant clerk who runs the office remained jailed for her refusal to issue the licenses because she opposed same-sex marriage.

William Smith Jr. and James Yates, a couple for nearly a decade, were the first to receive a marriage license in Rowan County on Sept. 4. Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled. After they paid the license fee of $35.50, James Yates rushed across the steps of the courthouse to hug his mom as both cried.

“This means at least for this area that civil rights are civil rights and they are not subject to belief,” said Yates, who had been denied a license five times previously. He said he and Smith were optimistic they would get a license when they arrived, in part because the deputy clerk, Mason, had always been respectful when they came previously.

A crowd of supporters cheered outside as the couple left, while a street preacher rained down words of condemnation. Yates and Smith said they are trying to choose between two wedding dates and plan a small ceremony at the home of Yates’ parents.

The licenses were issued only after five of Kim Davis’ deputy clerks agreed to issue the licenses, the lone holdout from the office being her son, Nathan Davis. Kim Davis’ office was dark as the license was issued to Yates and Smith, with a sheriff’s deputy standing guard in front of it.

“I just want the licenses given out. I don’t want her in jail. No one wanted her in jail,” Yates said.

A second couple, Timothy and Michael Long, also were issued a license about an hour after Yates and Smith. When the couple got inside the office on Sept. 4, a man harassed them and said, “More sodomites getting married?” The Longs did not respond, and a worker told the man to leave.

During a hearing Sept. 3, U.S. District Judge David Bunning had offered to release Davis if she promised not to interfere with her employees issuing licenses, but she refused, citing her Christian beliefs.

Speaking to reporters, Davis’ husband, Joe Davis, held a sign saying, “Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah” and said his wife was in good spirits after her first night in jail.

When asked if she would resign, he said, “Oh, God no. She’s not going to resign at all. It’s a matter of telling Bunning he ain’t the boss.”

Kim Davis and Joe Davis still support her employees, who he called “good people” and “good workers.” He said he ate with the other deputy clerks on Sept. 3 at an Applebee’s restaurant and told them “I loved them and I was proud of them.”

Davis’ son supported his mother and was warned by the judge not to interfere with his fellow employees. The judge said he did not want “any shenanigans,” like the staff closing the office for computer upgrades as they did briefly last week.

“That would show a level of disrespect for the court’s order,” Bunning said. He added: “I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail.”

Davis’ son sat stoically as the judge questioned the clerks on Sept. 3, some of whom were reluctant.

“I don’t really want to, but I will comply with the law,” deputy clerk Melissa Thompson said, weeping while she stood before the packed courtroom. “I’m a preacher’s daughter and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”

“I don’t hate anybody,” she added. “None of us do.”

Bunning indicated Kim Davis would remain in jail at least a week, saying he would revisit his decision after the deputy clerks have had time to comply with his order.

Davis said she hopes the Legislature will change Kentucky laws to find some way for her to keep her job while following her conscience.

But Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear again refused to call a special session of the legislature. State lawmakers will not meet until January.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian, wept during her testimony in federal court on Sept. 3, telling the judge she was “always a good person” but that she gave her heart to the Lord in 2011 and “promised to love Him with all my heart, mind and soul because I wanted to make heaven my home.”

“God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Davis told the judge before she was taken away by a U.S. marshal. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.”

Anti-gay Kentucky clerk found in contempt, taken into custody

A county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on religious grounds was found in contempt of court by a U.S. federal judge on Sept. 3 and taken into custody.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was led away by U.S. marshals.

“The court doesn’t do this lightly,” District Court Judge David Bunning said in ordering she be taken into custody.

Davis has refused to issue licenses to any couples, gay or straight, since the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the U.S. Constitution, citing her religious beliefs.

She told the judge, “God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties. You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.”

Bunning told Davis’ deputies in the clerk’s office that they could issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and that if they refused to comply with the law, they too could be held in contempt.

Before the hearing, about 200 demonstrators on both sides gathered outside the courthouse, some chanting slogans and many holding signs.

“Government employees swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled protects the fundamental right of all Americans to marry the person they love,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “Since then, all across the nation, thousands of LGBT couples have rejoiced in marriage without incident. As a government employee, Kim Davis certainly has a right to her personal views, but she is not above the law or the principles enshrined in our Constitution.”

Davis, who was elected to the post and succeeded her mother in the office, is represented by the ultra-rightwing Liberty Counsel, which has a long history of defending anti-gay policies and actions.

In a statement released after the court hearing on Sept. 3, Liberty Counsel founder and attorney Mat Staver said, “Kim Davis is a woman of strong faith. She never sought to be in this position. She would rather not be in this predicament. But here she is. All she asks is to be true to God and her conscience. And the tragedy is that there are simple ways to accommodate her convictions. Just remove her name from the marriage licenses. That’s all she has asked from the beginning.”

Staver added, “Today’s event swill escalate this debate to a new level.”

Staver has suggested that the U.S. government allow the creation of “sanctuary cities” where same-sex couples are not allowed to marry.

Refuse faith-based discrimination

As religious leaders from bountiful and diverse faith communities, we are concerned with the recent flood of state-level religious refusal bills that have potentially harmful and unintended consequences for the people we serve.

As people of faith who have embraced God’s free will as a gift to us all, we have great respect for the religious freedom of all Americans.

As faith leaders, we hold sacred the long-established First Amendment right of persons to worship based on their own beliefs and convictions.

This intentional means of living in community with others is how we best demonstrate that we are all God’s children. It is part of what makes this country great and it is this core tenet of our faiths that resists any action that seeks to limit the freedom of others.

We know there is a difference between worship space and public space. When providing services to the public, our religious freedom does not allow us to pick and choose whom we will serve. Our hands and our hearts must be open to all.

We do not believe it necessary for the state to pass religious refusal bills because:

• Our freedom of religion is already guaranteed and protected by the Constitution.

• Legislation that purports to protect people of faith could unleash a wave of costly lawsuits that will add undue burdens on the courts,  businesses and taxpayers.

  State-level religious refusals could cause harm in unintended but practical ways:

• A paramedic could refuse to provide life-saving services to a person who self-identifies as LGBT.

• A police officer could refuse to protect synagogues and mosques.

• A counselor could refuse to offer guidance to a teenager who is   LGBT, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim or Sikh.

• A public servant could refuse services to interracial, interfaith, divorced and same-gender loving couples.

We are a pluralistic nation by choice, one of the most religiously diverse and devout in the world. Every day, we take steps forward on our journey toward “a more perfect union.” We are called to respect the fundamental dignity and worth of all.  While we may have different views on a variety of issues, we unite ourselves in the condemnation of discrimination and in firm support of equal protections as guaranteed by the Constitution.

We strongly encourage our elected officials not to support these unnecessary bills that cast wide the net for exclusion and division. Furthermore, we call on all legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.

The Revs. Dr. William J. Barber II and the Anthony Spearman Greensboro, North Carolina; the Revs. Al Sharpton and Rev. Chloe Breyer and Rabbi Denise Eger New York City; the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins and Imam Daayiee Abdullah, Washington, D.C.; the Rev. Ann Pittman, Lexington, Kentucky; the Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III, Dallas; the Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton, Baltimore; Dr. Iva Carruthers, Chicago; the Rev. Lynn Ellsworth, Mount Pleasant, Iowa; the Rev. Dr. Delman Coates; Clinton, Maryland; Bishop Yvette Flunder, Oakland, California; Bishop Tonyia Rawls, Charlotte, North Carolina; the Rev. Dr. Wendell Griffin, Little Rock, Arkansas

Supreme Court to review Confederate flag on license plates

The Supreme Court is taking on a free speech case over a proposed license plate in Texas that would feature the Confederate battle flag.

The case involves the government’s ability to choose among the political messages it allows drivers to display on state-issued license plates.

The justices said they will review a lower court ruling in favor of the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group is seeking a specialty plate with its logo bearing the battle flag, similar to plates issued by several other states that were part of the Confederacy.

The case will be argued in March.

A state motor vehicle board rejected the application because of concerns the Confederate flag would offend many Texans who believe the flag is a racially charged symbol of repression. But a panel of federal appeals court judges ruled that the board’s decision violated the group’s First Amendment rights.

Texas offers more than 350 specialty plates, the group said in its court filing. They include plates that say “Choose Life,” “God Bless Texas,” “Fight Terrorism,” as well as others in support of Boy Scouts, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, blood donations, pro sports teams and colleges. 

The state said in its Supreme Court appeal that the decision to reject the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ license plate was not discrimination because the motor vehicle board had not approved a license plate expressing any view about the Confederacy or the battle flag.

Other federal appeals courts have come to differing conclusions on the issue, the state said.

A separate issue concerns whether state-issued licensed plates amount to government speech. The First Amendment applies when governments try to regulate the speech of others, but not when governments are doing the talking.

The court did not act on a second, similar appeal from North Carolina. That case centers on a court ruling blocking the use of the “Choose Life” plate in North Carolina because the state refused also to issue a specialty plate in favor of abortion rights.

The Texas case is Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, 14-144.

Sikh victim’s lessons sustain family

OAK CREEK, Wis. — Punjab Singh spent a lifetime preaching the Sikh principles of optimism and hope — the very principles that his family now rely upon to sustain them during his slow recovery from being shot in the head two years by a white supremacist.

Singh, 66, can neither move nor speak. Doctors say his injuries were so severe that he may never recover further. But his family refuses to give up hope, saying that with prayers and God’s grace, anything is possible.

“We never lose the hope,” his elder son, Raghuvinder Singh, said. “God is able to do anything he wants.”

Sikhism teaches forgiveness and peace, as well as the idea of living in “chardhi kala.” The Punjabi term describes a state of constant optimism, which believers say reflects an acceptance of God’s will.

It’s that spirit from which the family draws their strength. Because of their optimism, there is no anger at the shooter, no frustration over the turmoil they’ve endured, no agonizing over why such a bad thing happened to a good person.

“My father never teaches me anger to anyone. He teaches me always be in chardhi kala,” Raghuvinder Singh said. “I respect that and I practice that.”

Punjab Singh, an internationally known Sikh priest, was wounded Aug. 5, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. Six worshippers were killed and four other people were injured. The motive of the gunman, who killed himself, is unknown. 

Singh was in a bedroom at the temple that morning. When he heard gunfire he tried to barricade himself, but the gunman forced the door open far enough to reach his handgun inside and shoot Singh in the face.

The bullet damaged brain tissue, blood vessels and the brain stem. He was in a coma for two months, and a pair of subsequent strokes nearly paralyzed his left side. 

Improvement has been marginal. Today he can blink his eyes to answer yes or no, and he has a hint of motion in his right arm and leg. While he can’t speak, Raghuvinder Singh said his greatest prayer was to hear his father’s voice again so he could learn what happened that day.

Punjab Singh now lives in a nursing home in southeast Wisconsin. All of his medical bills have been paid by insurance.

Raghuvinder and his younger brother, Jaspreet Singh, used to maintain 24-hour vigils at their father’s bedside, alternating shifts and sleeping in a bed next to his.

They changed their routines after Raghuvinder, 44, returned to his job as a priest at a Sikh temple in Glen Rock, New Jersey. He’d been working there since 2008, and has a visa for religious work. His salary supports his family of four, as well as his mother and brother.

He returned to Milwaukee last week for memorial services that last through Tuesday, the two-year anniversary of the tragedy.

His mother and Jaspreet remained in Milwaukee ever since they arrived from India, days after the shooting.

With the aid of federal officials Jaspreet has been able to keep getting his six-month visitor visas renewed. However, he can’t legally work. Instead he spends five or more hours a day visiting the nursing home, washing his father’s face, combing his hair and beard and reading spiritual hymns.

When Jaspreet comes home he Skypes with his wife in New Delhi — and with the 1-year-old daughter he has never met. Ekampreet was born after he left India.

Growing up half a world away from his only child has been hard. But knowing that he’s being a dutiful son maintains him in chardhi kala, he added.

“Yes, I want to hold my daughter. But in Sikh religion, if you are serving your mother and father it’s like you’re serving God,” he said. “I want to serve my father.”

Their mother, Kulwant Kaur, spends her days alternating between visiting her husband and worshipping at the temple where he was shot. She too remains optimistic, drawing strength from the Sikhs around the world who pray for her husband.

“The prayers are working,” she said in Hindi. “We ask people to keep praying and things will improve.”

An AP exclusive.

Group unveils Satan statue design for Oklahoma Capitol

A satanic group unveiled designs this week for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan it wants to put at the Oklahoma state Capitol, where a Ten Commandments monument was placed in 2012.

The New York-based Satanic Temple formally submitted its application to a panel that oversees the Capitol grounds, including an artist’s rendering that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard that’s often used as a symbol of the occult. In the rendering, Satan is sitting in a pentagram-adorned throne with smiling children next to him.

“The monument has been designed to reflect the views of Satanists in Oklahoma City and beyond,” temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in a statement. “The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”

The Satanic Temple maintains that the Oklahoma Legislature’s decision to authorize a privately funded Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol opened the door for its statue. The Ten Commandments monument was placed on the north steps of the building in 2012, and the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to have it removed.

Similar requests for monuments have been made by a Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

In response, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission recently placed a moratorium on considering any new requests.

“Anybody can still make their request, but we’ll hold off on considering them until the lawsuit is adjudicated,” commission Chairman Trait Thompson said.

The push by the Satanic Temple has rankled elected leaders in this conservative state known as the buckle of the Bible Belt, who say such a proposal would never be approved by the commission.

“I think you’ve got to remember where you are. This is Oklahoma, the middle of the heartland,” said Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon. “I think we need to be tolerant of people who think different than us, but this is Oklahoma, and that’s not going to fly here.”

While Greaves acknowledges the Satanic Temple’s effort is in part to highlight what it says is hypocrisy of state leaders in Oklahoma, he says the group is serious about having a monument placed there. The group already has raised nearly half of the $20,000 it says it needs to build the monument.

“We plan on moving forward one way or another,” Greaves said.

On its website, the Satanic Temple explains that it “seeks to separate Religion from Superstition by acknowledging religious belief as a metaphorical framework with which we construct a narrative context for our goals and works.

“Satan stands as the ultimate icon for the selfless revolt against tyranny, free & rational inquiry, and the responsible pursuit of happiness,” the website says.

On the Web…

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/put-a-satanic-monument-at-ok-capitol