Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Devilish Monument to Religious Freedom

Oklahoma's 10 Commandments Monument
It’s positively amazing how quickly religious freedom gets the boot in this country just as soon as someone with non-Christian belief shows up expecting equal treatment.

Take Oklahoma, for example, where the state is in court fighting to keep a monument of the 10 Commandments now plopped in front of the capital.  The ACLU is suing to get it removed, something that has already happened in multiple sites around the country.  The ACLU’s unassailable argument is that the placing of the monument constitutes “an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.”

That argument has continually won in multiple courts.

Of course, if the courts this time inexplicably disagree, then what’s to stop other religions from demanding their own monuments?

The Satanic Monument
One group has already jumped on that bandwagon.  Satanists figure if the 10 Commandments have a place on public ground, then their image of Baphomet, “a goat-headed pagan idol sitting on a 7-foot-tall throne inscribed with an inverted pentagram” should fit right in, too.  The artist’s concept also includes happy children gazing at the goat-headed figure.

The Satanists have already collected most of the $290,000 need to create the imposing statue.

Sooner legislators naturally are opposed.  After all, several told CNN, almost 66 percent of the residents are Christian.  The other 34 percent?  Apparently, the state legislature doesn’t represent them.

Oklahoma state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, told CNN that “what will disqualify them has really nothing to do with Satan as such; it's that it has no historical significance for the state of Oklahoma.”

The 10 Commandments do?  They were the amalgamation of ideas circulating through the Middle East anywhere from 3,000 to 4000 years ago and little relate to modern times.  Oklahoma didn’t become a state until 1907.  Moreover, religions disagree on what the actual 10 Commandments are, and the Bible has at least three different lists.  

Let’s try another specious argument: "I believe that only monuments that reflect Oklahoma values should be allowed on the capitol grounds," state Rep. Bob Cleveland told CNN.

Oklahoma's criminals fill prisons.
Really?  How does the 10 Commandments reflect Oklahoma values?  How about the Fourth  Commandment: Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy? Anything happening with that in the state?  Nope.  How about the Sixth Commandment: Thou shall not murder?  In 2012, Oklahoma ranked 14th in the country with 5.7 murders per 100,000 people.

In fact, according to a 2012 study based on FBI statistics, Oklahoma was rated the 10th most dangerous state based on a huge jump in rapes.  

Clearly, the 10 Commandments has been a “powerful” guideline in that state, which, by the way, was formed when the U.S. Government arbitrarily confiscated Indian lands and opened them up to settlers.  Moreover, the state nickname was applied because some people, no doubt religiously motivated, crept in before the actually start of the 1889 land rush and stole (as opposed to Commandment 8) some of the prime land.

This all could be an empty argument.  It will be awhile before the Satanists find a home on the capital grounds.  In fact, they probably won’t.  The proposed statue won’t even be considered, according to Trait Thompson, chair of Oklahoma's Capitol Preservation Committee, until a lawsuit over the 10 Commandments monument is resolved.

That likely will end with the mandated removal of the 10 Commandments, which then will mean no religion will be represented on the capital grounds.  

Flying Spaghetti Monster
The only people likely to be depressed are members of other beliefs, such as Hindus and Pastafarians, a satirical religion that "worships" the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who also proposed monuments to their faiths.

The good Christians of Oklahoma are likely to oppose that, too.

After all, when folks there talk about religious freedom, they only mean their particular belief.  That’s why there’s a Supreme Court to make sure this country – or any state – doesn’t turn into a controlling theocracy.

That idea is not enshrined in the 10 Commandments.  It’s in the U.S. Constitution, thank God.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at