Satanists Sue Minnesota Town over Satanic Marker May 4, 2019 3:36:02 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on May 4, 2019 3:36:02 GMT -5
Satanists Sue Minnesota Town for Reneging on Satanic Marker
The city of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, is being sued by the Satanic Temple over a proposed statue in Veterans Memorial Park. “I knew this was going to be a problem,” Council Member Paul Chard remarked. “The pot got stirred pretty quick.” The councilman explained he wasn’t referring to the proposed monument (above), but to the city’s initial acceptance in 2017 of another monument known as “Joe,” of a soldier kneeling before a cross. It wasn’t long before someone complained that “Joe” violated the constitutional separation of church and state.
City leaders, fearing a lawsuit, ordered its removal, which triggered weeks of protests in the city of around 7,000 southwest of Minneapolis. The council subsequently designated an area in the park a “limited public forum,” open to temporary memorials honoring fallen veterans.
The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Mass., applied to install its own monument – what would have been the first satanic monument on public property in the U.S. The city granted a permit and the temple designed a 23-inch black cube inscribed with inverted pentagrams and topped with an upturned helmet, which it planned to install in July 2017.
The plan prompted additional protests, so exasperated city officials decided to shut down the limited public forum, ordering the removal of “Joe” and withdrawing permission for the temple's monument. Now removed, “Joe” sparked a year-long battle over free speech and religious imagery.
“People certainly have the right to protest and that’s fine, but the result of protest shouldn’t be depriving others of their civil rights,” Malcolm Jarry, the Satanic Temple’s co-founder, asserted. The lawsuit alleges the city violated the group’s First Amendment rights and breached its contract by rescinding its approval for the monument. The complaint also claims the organization has already paid for the marker.
“As you well know, you can’t decide to suppress speech just because hecklers didn’t like it," said Bruce Fein, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer representing the Satanists.
Chard added that he doesn't object to the monument, but laments the expense of defending the city against the lawsuit. “Small cities, basically, we’re strapped,” he declared.
The Satanic Temple, which has 18 chapters across the country, including one in Minnesota, says it doesn’t believe in supernatural beings, including Satan or the devil, but advocates for a stricter separation of church and state. Last year, the temple placed a temporary statue of the Baphomet, a goat-headed creature, at the Arkansas State Capitol in an effort to force the state to remove a monument bearing the Ten Commandments, and an Illinois chapter placed a statue in the Illinois Capitol alongside holiday displays of a Nativity scene and menorah.
The organization’s website indicates it strives “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice.” It has been designated by the IRS as a tax-exempt church, Fein added.
Source: Katy Read, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 27, 2019.