The Satanic Temple has installed a ‘Baby Baphomet’ holiday display at the Illinois State Capitol. The piece, which was installed as an exercise in freedom of speech and the separation of church and state, currently sits beside a traditional Christmas nativity scene.
2021 marks the third year the Satanic Temple has added their take on holiday spirit to the Illinois State Capitol Building. The non-theistic group, which is officially recognized as a religion by the United States, may be most infamous for public displays of their Statue of Baphomet, which was first unveiled in 2015 and includes two children looking up at the goat deity.
Like the Statue of Baphomet was created in response to a Ten Commandments statue being erected at the Oklahoma State Capitol, the Baby Baphomet is a response to Christian iconography being displayed in a supposedly secular building. If the church can install a religious display on capitol grounds, the Satanic Temple argues, they should be able to as well.
The Springfield Diocese installed a nativity scene in the rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol on Nov. 30, with the Satanic Temple erecting their Baby Baphomet on Dec. 20. The Baby Baphomet is a “message of harmony, reconciliation and unity” and “a display of positive values,” says the Satanic Temple. Bishop Thomas Paprocki, however, claims there is no place for Satanic displays in the Capitol or anywhere else.
“The Capitol welcomes a diverse range of religions every year to display holiday statues during the holiday season, so we wanted to join in on that,” Satanic Temple of Illinois Minister Adam tells WICS News. Baby Baphomet was met with protests from Christian churchgoers with signs like “Stop blasphemy now!”, “Satan has no rights!” and “Begone Satan! Mary crushes the Serpent.”
A sign accompanying both religious displays in the Capitol rotunda reads, “The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public display in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars. Because the first floor of the Capitol rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays. The United States Supreme Court has held that public officials may legally impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions regarding displays and speech, but no regulation can be based on the content of the speech.”