CHENNAI: A satanic group has added its statue to a series of decorations at a US government building in Illinois to mark the advent of the festive season.
The Chicago chapter of the Temple of Satan has erected a "four-foot sculpture depicting a snake curled around an outstretched arm holding an apple" and has placed it in the Illinois statehouse rotunda, BBC reports.
The Illinois state government has defended its decision to allow the exhibition of the controversial statue in the midst of Christmas decorations, saying the “Temple of Satan had the same rights as other religious groups.”
"Under the Constitution, the First Amendment, people have a right to express their feelings, their thoughts. This recognises that," Dave Druker, a spokesman for the Illinois secretary of state, told a local newspaper
Satanic groups are prevalent in the US and their idols are routinely displayed in public buildings.
For instance, in August, the temple placed a statue of Baphomet – a satanic deity resembling a goat – in the Arkansas Capitol building during a First Amendment rally there.
Members of the group, which is opposed to the power of the church, have often clashed with devout Christians. The temple is, by and large, regarded as a controversial entity, despite its regular charity works.
What is the Temple of Satan?
Contrary to the popular perception, they are not a bunch of evildoers worshipping the devil. In fact, only a few members of the temple actually worship Satan, most don’t.
Rather, they are a politically active group that has advocated for, among other things, a scientific understanding of the world.
What do they do?
They claim to be guided by “human conscience to undertake noble pursuits,” including promoting egalitarianism, empathy, and compassion.
According to their website, “The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, and advocate practical common sense and justice.”
Towards these ends, they have organised numerous charitable activities. For instance, in March, a chapter of the temple collected and distributed socks to homeless people in Pensacola, Florida.
They are also known for their strong advocacy of Planned Parenthood.