Shortly after 11:30 p.m. Saturday, ticket holders got their first look at the nearly nine-foot-tall, 1½-ton bronze statue of a goat-headed Baphomet. Flanked by admiring children, and backed by an inverted pentagram, the sculpture has been surrounded in controversy since it was first conceived as an accompaniment to a Ten Commandments display at the Capitol in Oklahoma. As reported by The Independent July 26, the unveiling was met with protests from Christians.
The sculpture was constructed by the The Satanic Temple in response to a Ten Commandments display that was authorized to be placed outside the Oklahoma Statehouse in 2009. The move was contested by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union who filed a lawsuit in regard to the privately funded display. In December 2013, The Satanic Temple notified the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Committee that it would like to donate a statue of Satan. After the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the Ten Commandments display violated the state’s constitution, it was ordered removed. The ruling meant installation plans for the satanic sculpture would have to be shifted.
The Satanic Temple decided to unveil the sculpture in Detroit, because according to its co-founder, Lucien Greaves, the city has a strong congregation. “We just have a good community over there,” Greaves said. Though they may have a strong presence in the city, The Satanic Temple was forced to hold what was advertised as “the largest public satanic ceremony in history” at a location that was undisclosed until just before the event because of threats. According to Greaves, they had received messages like: “Let’s burn the statue down!”, “This Is complete bullsh*t.I can’t wait until we take this bitch down and f*ck it up. F*ck Satan!” and “I bet it would blow up real good.”, all of which were reported to the police.
While the unveiling was not targeted by anyone seeking to do harm, the event was met with groups of concerned Christian protesters who prayed outside. According to The Guardian, some 50 people gathered outside the venue, denouncing the statue. “The last thing we need in Detroit is having a welcome home party for evil,” said the Rev Dave Bullock, a pastor at Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church in Highland Park, Michigan.
Detroit will not be the final resting place of Baphomet. According to the New York Times, The Satanic Temple have plans to install the statue at the Arkansas Statehouse, where lawmakers approved a Ten Commandments display similar to that of Oklahoma, earlier this year. “It was always our intention to take this wherever it was relevant, wherever it was necessary, and wherever that dialogue needed to take place,” Greaves said.