Oklahoma Legislator Who Supports Ten Commandments Monument Slams Satanic Temple’s Proposal for Being Too ‘Religious’

Last week, I posted an interview with Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves about his group’s desire to place a monument of their own near the Ten Commandments monument outside the Oklahoma Capitol building.

They were executing a tactic atheists have been using for a while now: When a Christian display is allowed on government property, you might as well take advantage of the floodgates being open and demand a display of your own. Along the way, if legislators decide to ban religious and non-religious displays altogether, that’s just too damn bad… and if they ban your display, it’s an easy victory in court.

Oklahoma legislators are aware that the Satanists want to erect their own monument and they have no clue how to respond, so they’re just putting their collective foot in their mouth and crying “Christian privilege!” left and right:

“This is a faith-based nation and a faith-based state,” said Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. “I think it is very offensive they would contemplate or even have this kind of conversation.”

Yes, how dare non-Christian groups contemplate using their First Amendment rights?! It’s totally a faith-based nation… even though nearly 20% of Americans use no religious label and even though our Constitution says it wouldn’t matter if 100% of them did.

It is not something the people of Oklahoma would support, and the people of Oklahoma support the Ten Commandments monument,” said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa.

Guess what? Doesn’t matter.

“It is not going to get approved here without a court battle,” said Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove. “I can assure you.”

… a statement no politician has ever said to a Christian group wanting to put a Ten Commandments monument.

I am somewhat disappointed we are facing this sort of thing,” said Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa. “We sort of knew this might happen. I know nothing of about this group. I have never heard of them. I think we opened the door and have to have a process to have it vetted.”

That may be the worst one of them all. We sort of figured other groups might want to take advantage of this opportunity, but I just can’t believe any of them actually did!

Wait. I lied. This is the worst one of them all:

Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, said the New York group is trying to place a monument on the Capitol grounds for religious purposes and will be unsuccessful. The Ten Commandments monument, on the other hand, was put up for historical purposes, Reynolds said.

Wow. The Satanic Temple’s proposed monument should be rejected because it’s too “religious,” but the Ten Commandments monument should be given a pass because it’s “historical”?!

Someone will have to explain to me the historical significance of Commandments that say we should obey God, not obey idols, not take God’s name in vain, and keep the Sabbath holy… not to mention that most of the other Commandments aren’t even codified in our laws — no one goes to jail for coveting, committing adultery, or disrespecting their parents.

If the Satanic Temple’s efforts fail, then I’ll be first in line to donate to their legal battle. Anything to get more hypocritical soundbites from legislators who don’t understand that there are people out there who don’t believe in the same imaginary God they do.

The principle is simple: Oklahoma legislators can allow all groups’ monuments on government property or they can stop the charade right now and move the Ten Commandments monument to a local church.

Where are the politicians who accept that that’s how our country works? It doesn’t matter if Christians make up the majority faith; the government has to remain neutral on these sorts of issues.

I asked Lucien Greaves if he had a response for the politicians and I’ll update this post when I hear from him.

(Thanks to Jane for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Jasper

    Yes, this is a faith-based nation. And that’s why we’re being slaughtered by other nations in terms of education statistics.

  • Goape

    I once called Mike Reynolds a dick. That’s historical fact; which is why it’s legal to erect my new penis statue with Mike’s face on it at the Oklahoma Capitol building.

    • randomfactor

      It’ll help if you call it a lingam.

      • Goape

        It might indeed. Good idea—holy fucking Shiva, this might really work!

        • baal

          Exactly! One of the shiva priests duties is to oil the lingam.

    • sam

      Why would you want to deface a perfectly fine penis statue?

      • Jeff

        He wouldn’t be *de*facing it, he’d be *en*facing it.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Every one of those bloody eyesores of Ten Commandments monuments says the same thing on the first line: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”.

    That’s somehow reflective of U.S. history? That isn’t “too religious”?

    What a hypocrite!

  • https://soundcloud.com/eddieboydmusic flyb

    The Ten Commandments monument, on the other hand, was put up for historical hysterical purposes, Reynolds said.

    • Jasper

      I’d say it’s only historical in that there’s a history in people asserting that it’s part of U.S. history.

  • Richard Thomas

    Let’s look at the silver lining here. Based on the party representation shown here, if we want Democrats and Republicans to work together in this nation, all we have to do is threaten them with Satanist monuments! We’ve solved the gridlock! THANK YOU, SATANIC TEMPLE!

    • Rain

      If there is one bipartisan issue that they can agree on, it is that they are completely full of the same BS about the same issue.

    • Greg G.

      The downside of the two party system is that the only times they can agree on an issue is when they are wrong.

      • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

        Greg G.,

        But sometimes they are doubly wrong and do something right.

        .

        • Jeff

          No, to wrongs do NOT make a right. However, two wrights make an airplane.

          • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

            Three rights make a left.

            .

  • Lando

    “Where are the politicians who accept that that’s how our country works?”

    Sitting quietly by while their opponents embarrass themselves?

  • randomfactor

    “It is not going to get approved here without a court battle,”

    Yeah. The local government agencies typically lose those, and end up paying the legal costs.

  • The Captain

    Hemant, I see you tried to follow up with Greaves, but have you thought about contacting the legislators offices to ask them any follow up questions about these statements? I would love to hear them answer some basic questions regarding the 1st amendment and non-christians.

  • Malcolm McLean

    “Someone will have to explain to me the historical significance of Commandments that say we should obey God, not obey idols, not take God’s name in vain, and keep the Sabbath holy”

    It’s a long story. The Ten Commandments might go back directly to Moses, or they might have derived from a later, but still very ancient, editing of the first five books of the Bible. That’s a matter of intense interest to real scholars. This history of the Satanic Temple is not. It’s got a small membership, and probably a history that stretches back only a few years.

    If you go to Wikipedia and type “The Beatles” you’d expect to get a hit. However they ask people not to start webpages for their own guitar bands, which maybe played a couple of gigs. Not everything that people set up is of real historical, cultural, or other interest.

    • Brian K

      They’re not promoting their own church, they’re prooting Satan as a historical literary figure. As such he’s at least as old as The Book of Exodus.

    • Richard Thomas

      Well, by your logic, it’s perfectly reasonable to erect a monument to Pazuzu on government property. After all, Assyrian mythology is ancient.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

        Pazuzu goes all the way back to Sumerian, just sayin.

        • JaniceInToronto

          All Hail Pazuzu! I wonder what exactly a monument to him/her would look like?

    • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

      Did they take Satan out of the Bible?

      If they take God out of the Bible, things will be much better.

      :-)

    • Glasofruix

      Historians are not even sure if Moses existed. According to a documentary i was watching a few days ago, most of the bible is full of shit, with many discrepancies, exagerations and outright lies.

      • Anymouse

        Were you watching on The History Channel? They do a lot of Bible pseudo-history and dramatization to sell advertising.

        • Glasofruix

          Nope, arte, a french/german cultural channel, way better than history channel.

    • clevertitania

      “That’s a matter of intense interest to real scholars.”

      You’re confusing the significance of biblical history with the significance of actual history. Just because a biblical scholar might find some ancient text of interest, does not remotely make a statue celebrating a piece of ancient text a “Historical Monument,” which is generally a monument that depicts or celebrates a historical EVENT. You might as well say the statue of David is historically significant because it depicts a portion of biblical history – it’s historically significant because it represents a part of artistic and cultural history, not because it’s a statue of a biblical character.The Ten Commandments statue is only a historical monument, if you assume that the story of the creation of the stone tablets, is a fact of history.

      And given that even many biblical scholars don’t make such a ludicrous claim, that the story of Moses and the tablets is factual – a piece of ‘scripture’ may be of interest to people studying a religion, but it does not make it a piece of history. And it certainly doesn’t rate a monument on public property.BELIEF in Christianity may be part of human history, but almost nothing of biblical history, is of any real significance to human history.

      Plus – no one who chose to put that monument up, was celebrating the cultural relevance of Christianity’s role in human history. They put that monument up, to celebrate their faith, with the presumption that everyone else should be studying their (truly pathetic) list of rules too – because their god is the arbiter of all that is true and just in the world – when he’s not facilitating genocides and rapes of course. That statue has nothing to do with celebrating history.

      Well, until this exact statue becomes its own piece of history, by representing a victory for secular freedom, when it’s finally removed from public property – which will be bitchin’.

    • baal

      “probably a history that stretches back only a few years.”
      Do you really want the government sifting out the ‘true’ religions from the ‘fake’ ones?

      • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

        He appears to.

        I wonder what he thinks of other Christian denominations.

        ;-)

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    It isn’t hypocrisy when I do it!

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    This Wikipedia page gives a good explanation of the way one Ten Commandments monument was determined by the Supreme Court to be historical.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Orden_v._Perry

    In the other case referenced, McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, the Ten Commandments monument was not determined to be historical by the same Supreme Court.

    .

    • Rain

      So all they know is they heard “historical” somewhere. Some vague thingy they heard somewhere that sounds “close enough for government work” lol.

      • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

        Rain,

        There were several reasons given that individually would not have been enough to make this historical, but combined convinced the swing vote, Justice Breyer.

        He then goes on to list points which are stated to be insufficient individually, but together seem to provide a reasonable basis for “secular purpose”:

        The monument’s 40-year history on the Texas state grounds indicates that nonreligious aspects of the tablets’ message predominate.

        The group that donated the monument, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, is a private civic (and primarily secular) organization. Who, while interested in the religious aspect of the Ten Commandments, sought to highlight the Commandments’ role in shaping civic morality as part of that organization’s efforts to combat juvenile delinquency.

        The Eagles’ consulted with a committee composed of members of several faiths in order to find a nonsectarian text — an act which underscores the group’s ethics-based motives.

        The tablets, as displayed on the monument, prominently acknowledge that the Eagles donated the display.

        The physical setting of the monument suggests little or nothing of the sacred.

        The monument sits in a large park containing 17 monuments and 21 historical markers, all designed to illustrate the “ideals” of those who settled in Texas and of those who have lived there since that time.

        The setting does not readily lend itself to meditation or any other religious activity.

        The setting does provide a context of history and moral ideals.

        The larger display (together with the display’s inscription about its origin) communicates to visitors that the State sought to reflect moral principles, illustrating a relation between ethics and law that the State’s citizens, historically speaking, have endorsed. That is to say, the context suggests that the State intended the display’s moral message — an illustrative message reflecting the historical “ideals” of Texans — to predominate.

        .

    • ZeldasCrown

      That’s interesting. I will say the argument of “nobody’s complained about it before” is pretty weak (the other arguments about the context of this particular monument seem more reasonable to me, but I’m still not 100% convinced-I’d agree it is a borderline case), but I do see how, in theory, a monument of the ten commandments could be historical. However, and here’s where the folks in this article get it wrong, it wouldn’t be because it’s the ten commandments, it would be due to some other fact or aspect of the monument. For example, some specific historical event could be associated with the monument or there could be something else on the monument (like another symbol or words) that is of secular or historical importance or it could be part of a display of many monuments, which, taken together, have a larger context/historical meaning.

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_Of_Bangor

    My favorite comment from the article. How do people come up with such bullshit?

    The Bible speaks of a man who mocked God and died. These so-called Satanists are nothing more than an extreme wing of atheists who are constantly doing everything they can to deny the rights of Christians and all who do believe in God.

    One day their laughing and mockery will come to an abrupt end, and they will be begging forgiveness that won’t come.

    • Pepe

      It’s easy. With their heads up their ass, all they gotta do is open their eyes and look around.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

      i love how it’s always “Jesus forgives all sins and saves me” when it’s a xtian person speaking of his own flaws, but those of us who aren’t in the right religion? well, it’s always an abrupt end and no forgiveness and burning lake of fire for us. even if we ask for forgiveness, we’ll be ignored. some ‘forgiving’ godling ya got there, bub.

    • Matt D

      Gee. For some reason, I find his threats meaningless.

      • baal

        While I don’t fear the holy end of the world with rapture and all that, I am somewhat bothered by emphatic if vague threats. They mean a person or group are in a mental state where violence (or other bad acts) are acceptable.

        • Matt D

          To be clear, I find the threat meaningless, not the man.

          While I do wonder if the Satanists involvement has colored the man’s retort more than he may be aware of (seriously, the stance “I’m going to win in the end, and you’ll regret it”, is so ridiculous, I wonder if he’s a “Pascal’s Wager” proponent), I doubt we should dismiss the man as harmless.

  • Eric Scott

    Hasn’t Satan been around longer than the Ten Commandments? If they want history represented …

    • koseighty

      The oldest text from the Bible is the Book of Job, in which Lucifer and The God bet over Job’s reactions to different forms of torment and torture.

      Funny stuff. The God! always up for a good bet on some harmless torment.

      I see a monument with The God and Lucifer drinking, eating chips, and laughing as they bend over watching a miniature Earth.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        Ima gonna be pedantic and say that “Lucifer” is a different concept than “satan” and doesn’t appear until the Latin translation of Isaiah.

        The concept of satan in the Book of Job is also much different than what modern Christians make him out to be. Satan in the book of Job actually works on YHWH’s side in order to test people’s loyalty to YHWH. The Book of Job makes a lot more sense looking at it this way, but of course, you gotta chuck the Christian interpretation then.

        • koseighty

          Don’t harsh my monument with facts. That’s just rude.

        • John

          Though it still leaves the “Why does an omniscient god have to test people?” and “Was murdering Job’s family really necessary?” issues, of course.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Oh of course. In fact, I don’t think that omniscience was part of the god concept back then either. The problem comes from trying to fit the old stories into modern conceptions of god. If Christians (and other theists) stopped trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, they wouldn’t need to do so much gymnastics to make sense of the Bible. Oh well, their loss.

            • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

              They had much lower standards for omniscience back then.

              Probably just slightly above Homer Simpson on the IQ test (to use one not-so-good example of measuring intelligence).

              .

              • Randay

                Hey, just because Homer Simpson always interprets things in a different ways than which seem obvious to other people doesn’t make him wrong. Often he turns out to be right by challenging others’ assumptions. I agree that it is not necessarily a good measure of intelligence.

                BTW, Homer thinks god is omnivorous.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

          the ancients understood gods and demons very differently than people do today, that’s for sure. demons and devil creatures from scary dark otherworlds were really common, and even regular people could summon and command them. i can just hear the ancient priestess listening to the first guy to come up with the Job story and thinking “dood. i’d just summon up Pazuzu and cast that YHWH demon out of him.” heh.

        • John H

          Well, considering that there cannot possibly be any sort of resistance to the will of a truly-omnipotent, -omniscient being, everyone necessarily MUST be working on its side, including Satan. Unless Yahweh is lying about the extent of its power. Or imaginary.

          Say, that last possibility explains ALL of the various contradictions in any of the Yahweh-worshiping religions…

  • Thomas Bennett

    Well, I’m sure that the monument proposed by the Satanic Temple will be tasteful and bad-ass at the same time. The 10 commandments are just boring.

  • Matto the Hun

    I like this guy and people like him.

    Normally Christians couch this argument in the language of persecution. How the mean, nasty atheists won’t let them have their monuments, prayer lead class, Jesus pictures in schools and other government buildings.

    But these guys show their true face. They want freedom of religion for Christians, and only for Christians and the freedom to impose Christianity on everyone in any walk of life they like.

    • ZeldasCrown

      Right, how it was “persecution” and “government supporting atheism” when some folks protested to building of the original monument (was this the one that was just put up by a church group on the fly and then just kept, or was that at a different government building? I may be mixing up my illegal monuments). Now that somebody else wants to do the same, all of a sudden the monument is “historical” and not at all “Christian-only”. It’s either a religious monument or not (and this one is definitely religious); you can’t claim religious persecution when erecting it, and then suddenly say it’s not religious when it suits you.

  • newavocation

    Well they should also legislate to keep the sabbath holy and ban football games on friday nite and saturday.

    • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

      The Holy Football Sabbath must not be violated.

      .

  • The Other Weirdo

    …or they can stop the charade right now and move the Ten Commandments monument to a local church where it belongs.

    There. Fixed it for you.

  • Svelaz

    LOL! Wow, talk about irony in the sharpest sense. I think the ACLU should dive in and challenge the right of the Satanic group to put a monument. It could set a really good example of…….freedom of religion. LOL! Priceless.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Why is it irony?

      • Michael

        Because it was an attempt to promote Christianity which is only serving to promote the Satanists.

        Simplest form of irony: Having the opposite effect than it was intended for. Shooting someone in the leg and thus curing their cancer, that sort of thing.

        • The Other Weirdo

          Well, yes, I know that, but I thought the irony referred to meant something to do with the ACLU.

  • Timmah

    The Satanists are so going to win any court battle that comes up. And belive you me that 10 Commandments monument will suddenly be moved to a local church cause they will so not wanna play this game anymore and ban all religoius monuments.
    If not I think a big FSM statue would look pretty keen on their front lawn as well.

  • Dan Weeks

    So it begins…

    I thank the Christians for merrily walking right into this one.

  • duke_of_omnium

    If hypocrisy was painful, this guy would need a morphine drip.

  • TheG

    I often wonder what these people would say if I pointed out that the majority of the US identifies as female and the answer if there was a law proposed that men weren’t allowed in public without a womna and all men must get cock piercings? I mean, we ARE a female nation…

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5OWRRJh-PI&list=FLYJP3MjZQ-BJugrvyegfQ7Q&index=1&feature=plpp_video Alberto Knox

    It is so much fun to poke christians. Honestly. It never gets old :-)

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Where are the politicians who accept that that’s how our country works?

    There are very few of them, and they are hiding. Look for the ones who don’t say anything while their Christian Privilegist colleagues bloviate about “faith,” or “majority,” or “tradition.” The silent ones actually read and understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but they did not get elected by talking about it to their electorate. They’re not willing to risk losing the next election by educating the people about how their country is supposed to work.

  • JA

    Seems Christians don’t like the taste of their own stupidity…

  • Todd Heath

    I’m seeing way too many post about my state and it’s strange fascination with insane fundamentalist garbage. Not all people here are that stupid…..REALLY!

    • JohnnieCanuck

      That’s what they all say. Really. It seems that any time an area gets noticed for some foolishness, a defender will appear and say, “We’re not all like that!”.

      Sooner or later someone’s name will get attached to this phenomenon and they’ll have a form of immortality denied to most of us. You?

      • Todd Heath

        There really needs to be a sarcasm font.

        Oh, another thing. Take time to google Wolf Blitzer Oklahoma atheist and watch the video. Your arrogant and condescending post is uncalled for.

        • JohnnieCanuck

          And here I was trying for humour.

  • JohnH2

    If the politicians really want to stop the monument they just shot themselves in the foot, if not someplace higher up. If they were able to say that the primary reason for rejecting the monument was not religious but something else, like aesthetics, then they could probably be successful in delaying the monument longer. However, now that they are on record so much about why they don’t like the monument being due to religious grounds then they have completely undermined any and all defense of stopping the monument.

    Could they come up with a plan to require those placing such a monument to pay for the upkeep of the monument in perpetuity or face having the monument removed? If not it seems they are just asking for some religion to design a monument that is vastly more costly to maintain than build just for the fun of it.

    • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

      There must be fresh spaghetti and meatballs imported from Italy every hour.

      ;-)

  • WoodwindsRock

    ““…[T]he people of Oklahoma support the Ten Commandments monument,” said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa.”

    Uh… No. I am a person of Oklahoma. (Unfortunately)

    They really need to learn to start speaking for themselves. Between this and that awful “In God We Trust” motto, they just really don’t get it.

  • Svelaz

    I see only two possible choices the Oklahoma legislature has regarding this issue.
    1. Go to court and defend the 10 commandments monument and lose, and allow the satanic monument.
    2. Remove the 10 commandments monument just to prevent the satanic monument from being legally erected.

    • Richard Thomas

      Although I don’t think anyone, including the Satanists, really care if the monument goes up, this being more a demonstration of religious intolerance by the christian population, the former outcome would be better in the long run because the latter is just one more dead fish in the garbage can of “persecution” those christians love to complain about.

      • Svelaz

        I agree. Personally I see this as a real test of the claim many Christians abuse regarding freedom of religion. What is really fascinating is the position these legislators are in. I like to use this phrase when people such as these legislators believe they are doing nothing wrong in such situations, ” Fish don’t know they are wet”.

  • Ivy Shoots

    The Exodus story, which has no archeological substantiation, is set
    about 500 years after the Code of Hammurabi was carved onto stone and
    clay tablets (which still exist today). It’s very possible those laws on tablets were the
    basis for the 10 Commandments myth. So a monument of the Code of Hammurabi would actually be historical, while one of the 10 Commandments is purely religious.

    • Richard Thomas

      To be fair, a lot of U.S. courthouses and government buildings, including the U.S. Supreme Court, DO have images of Hammurabi.

  • Fentwin

    If only stupidity and hypocrisy were both physically painful to the one engaging in either.

  • Techno Spice

    The religious statements as historically relevant argument has precedent in the DC Court of Appeals when they upheld the “In God We Trust” on our money for having historical relevance by citing 1970s Aronow v. United States. ““It is quite obvious that the national motto and slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion.” It’s the biggest F-up a federal court has ever made because now other government entities are trying it with every Christian object they can try to include into government.

  • A3Kr0n

    I’ve already donated to a Christian minister this year, so why not a satanic group?
    Start up the fund Hemant just in case. Let’s be proactive!

  • WalterWhite007

    Hey, come on, only my superstition and myth based religion is real!!!!

  • Jennifer L Smith-Clark

    I never thought I would appreciate the stance of a Church of Satan. I think the Muslims should go next with a 5 pillars of Islam monument or perhaps someone should do a mockup of Hommurabi’s code to be “historical”.

  • Svelaz

    I just read about what the commission responsible for approving such things was saying about the satanic groups request. They characterized the monument as a form of art that needed to conform to certain criteria in order for it to be allowed to be displayed. That it had to have some sort of historical connection to the state.
    I don’t remember the commission needing to portray the ten commandments monument as a form of art and that certain criteria needed to be met in order for it to be displayed. Characterizing it as art sort of goes around the issue of it being a religious one. So now it’s art?

    • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

      Svelaz,

      So now it’s art?

      Thou art!

      .

  • stop2wonder

    “If the Satanic Temple’s efforts fail, then I’ll be first in line to
    donate to their legal battle. Anything to get more hypocritical
    soundbites from legislators who don’t understand that there are people
    out there who don’t believe in the same imaginary God they do.”

    But the Satanic Temple does believe in the same imaginary God they do, they just pull for the other side.

    • cemetery

      Sad how many people know nothing about the satanic church, they have better rules than the 10 commandments, here’s a few I DON’T see on the 10 commandments:

      Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.

      Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.

      Do not harm little children. (funny how this one didn’t make it into those commandments, and before you say anything, DO NOT KILL is not the same as do not harm, some priests took great advantage of that little loophole)

  • Robert Weissman

    I love it when this happens


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