The Satanic Temple set up a holiday homage to the occult “deity” Baphomet in the Iowa Statehouse, drawing concern from Christians about the “abhorrent” and “evil” display.
“We’re going to really relish the opportunity to be represented in a public forum. We don’t have a church on every street corner,” co-founder of the Satanic Temple Lucien Greaves told KCCI News.
The Iowa Department of Administrative Services said the group followed the same rules as other groups to get approval for the display, WHO 13 News reported on Wednesday. The display, which features “a ram’s head covered with mirrors on a mannequin cloaked in red clothing,” will be on display at the Capitol for 14 days.
“My feeling is if people don’t like our display in public forums, they don’t have to engage with them. They don’t have to view them,” Greaves added.
On its website, the Satanic Temple claims that it does not actually worship or believe in the existence of Satan. Instead it claims to “encourage benevolence and empathy, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense, oppose injustice, and undertake noble pursuits.” The Satanic Temple also fights for the “right” to kill the unborn and the abolishment of corporal punishment in schools.
Shellie Flockhart from Dallas Center organized a prayer group on Wednesday around the Christmas Tree in the center of the rotunda to oppose the Satanic display.
“It’s a very dark, evil force, and I truly hope people know how to battle that,” Flockhart said. “I hope that people realize spiritual warfare is real. That there are evil satanic forces that are trying to infiltrate our state,” she said.
Eastern Iowa Pastor Joel Tenney with Alpha Pneuma Ministries called the display a “travesty.”
“It’s abhorrent to see something like a display like this. It’s a travesty, to see in our Capitol. I don’t know why it’s allowed to be here. I’m going to work to hold whoever put this up accountable, and whoever allowed this to be put up accountable as well,” Tenney said. “If there’s some sort of concession for this to be allowed, I’m gonna work to oppose that concession and rewrite any rulings or legislation we have considering something like this.”
“God uses all evil to good, He’ll turn it to good, and so if people become aware that these things are out there, they become more alert to watch for it,” added Paul Dykstra, a retired farmer and pastor, and a prayer group leader.
Satanic Temple chapters around the country have pulled similar stunts. In November, the Satanic Temple of Wisconsin put up a Christmas tree covered in pentagrams at the National Railroad Museum’s Christmas tree festival.
In December 2021, the Illinois Capitol rotunda featured an installation of the Satanic Temple’s “deity” Baphomet, which was laid like a baby in a manger.
The Satanic Temple also opened “the world’s first religious abortion clinic” this year called “Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic,” mockingly named after the mother of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who penned the Dobbs decision overturning the invented “right” to abortion last year. The clinic offers “ceremonial support” for “abortion rituals,” and pitches killing the unborn as a “protective rite.”