December 9, 2013
The Satanic Temple of New York has alerted the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission that it wants to build a $20,000 monument on the statehouse grounds. The temple plans to submit plans this month for a monument that would be in “good taste” – which an official describes as a marker with a pentagram or an interactive display for children, according to the Associated Press.
State Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R) told the AP that the idea was preposterous. “These Satanists are a different group,” he said. “You put them under the nut category.”
Legal precedent suggests that federal courts might not take the same view – about Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument or Satanists’ claim of equal rights.
In a 2005 case, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Satanists and followers of white-supremacist religions, saying that a federal law designed to protect prisoners’ religious liberties protected theirs, too.
Ohio officials had argued that protecting Satanists’ religious rights would undermine prison security by drawing more prisoners to that faith. In rejecting the state’s argument, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that government often makes concessions to accommodate the free exercise of religion, such as allowing Jewish military personnel to wear yarmulkes.
Justice Ginsberg made clear that her ruling dealt specifically with the federal law in question.
In two other cases decided the same year, the Supreme Court issued a split ruling on the specific question of religious monuments on public property.