Satanists have made their mark in the Illinois state capitol building, installing a so-called “holiday display” to commemorate their “satanic values” and exist in “harmony with other religions.”
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This year’s exhibition borrows from biblical imagery and includes a crochet serpent wrapped around apples, with the snake’s head resting on an open book.
According to WFLD-TV, the display was created by The Satanic Temple, a “nontheistic” organization that sees the devil as a mere literary figure.
It’s meant to bring attention to controversies surrounding “banned books.” The text in the display is “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres” by Nicolaus Copernicus.
The Catholic Church banned Copernicus’ book for its contention the earth revolves around the sun — something science now definitively knows to be the case.
The Satanic Temple’s placement of the display in the capitol rotunda is the fourth time the organization has positioned a symbol of its theological creed next to the Christmas tree and traditional holiday decor.
The spectacle might seem strange, but the Illinois Capitol Rotunda is a free-speech space open to any religious group during the holiday season.
So, during a time when the faithful celebrate the nativity and the true meaning of Christmas, others seek to use the moment to spread their own ideals.
“Religious plurality is one of the bedrocks of our society,” Minister Adam, a leader of Satanic Temple Illinois, told WCIA-TV. “We like to see that this is an affirmation of our satanic values by existing in harmony with other religions.”
A sign posted near the holiday displays inside the rotunda explains the divergent messages and symbols — likely an effort to explain why some strange or uncommon images might be present.
“The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment to allow temporary, public displays in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars,” it reads. “Because the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content or speech of displays.”
Some, though, have condemned the scene. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Springfield told WCIA-TV there is profound suffering for those who “worship Satan.”
“Christians look forward to eternal happiness with God in Heaven. Those who worship Satan are doomed to suffer the pains of hell with the Evil One and his minions forever,” he said. “People are free to choose. I pray for the conversion of sinners and their eternal salvation.”
The Genesis-themed Satanist exhibition joins the nativity scene and Hanukkah display at a time when Satanism continues to attract headlines.
The Satanic Temple also hosts After School Satan Clubs, riling parents in communities across the nation. Organizers claim the clubs are an alternative to evangelical Bible efforts for kids.
“Proselytization is not our goal, and we’re not interested in converting children to Satanism,” a description reads on the group’s website. “After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us.”
It continues, “We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors.”
As CBN’s Faithwire has reported, The Satanic Temple and other groups like it are nontheistic, meaning they do not believe in Satan as a literal figure. This form of atheistic Satanism differs from the theistic alternative — one in which people believe in and even worship the devil.
Read our full explainer on the issue here.
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