Outrage as Illinois State Capitol Welcomes...Baby Satan for Christmas
Christmas is a time of unity and harmony. Illinois appears to try its best to promote this cheerful spirit in its state Capitol, keeping its doors open to people of various beliefs - even the least expected ones.
The state of Illinois has seen outrage from religious leaders and other activists over the satanic display in the state Capitol, with a goat-like baby Baphomet next to traditional Christian Christmas decorations.
In contrast to the Nativity scene intended to mark the birth of Jesus, the Satanic Temple's display was dedicated to the organisation's own "holiday" named Sol Invictus. The controversial display was unveiled on Monday, and since then critics have been lashing out at the local authorities for allowing it, raging both online and offline.
The social media criticism was fuelled by the footage that emerged online, showing a group of Satanists around the demonic statue of Baphomet and repeating "Hail, Satan". Some photos offered a closer look at the "satanic deity".
Many users expressed outrage, with someone even tagging police accounts wondering how the display could have been allowed in the state Capitol in the first.
The display inevitably drew the attention of other groups, with kneeling protesters, some holding Rosary beads, saying the Catholic prayer "Hail Mary". Additionally, the demonstrators reportedly had signs reading "Satan Has No Rights", and "Begone, Satan! Mary Crushes the Serpent". According to local media reports, the protesters were from the American Society for the Defence of Tradition, Family, and Property.
Among the critics was Bishop Thomas Paprocki, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, who said that such installations "should have no place in this Capitol or any other place".
The Satanic Temple itself appears to refer to "Baphomet's message of harmony and reconciliation", saying that their display is celebrating "unity". The organisation even invited the bishop to join their event - something that he predictably rejected.
"The Capitol welcomes a diverse range of religions every year to display holiday statues during the holiday season, so we wanted to join in on that", Satanic Temple of Illinois Minister Adam said.
On its Twitter account, the organisation even shared a video, in which protesters can be heard chanting anti-Satan slogans.
According to WICS, there was a sign at the Illinois Capitol, reading that all groups were allowed to put up their displays in accordance with the First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of worship.
"Because the first floor of the Capitol rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays. The United States Supreme Court has held that public officials may legally impose reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions regarding displays and speech, but no regulation can be based on the content of the speech", the sign reportedly reads.
Notably, this is not the first time a controversy around satanic displays has erupted in Illinois before Christmas. In 2018, a Baphomet installation appeared in the state Capitol, sparking ire from religious leaders and conservatives, causing a similar clash between those believing such displays are allowed by the First Amendment and those seeing them as...well, slightly disrupting the Christmas spirit.