In December 2014, 2015 and 2016 the Michigan State Capitol Commission granted approval to The Satanic Temple for placement of a holiday display on the Capitol lawn in Lansing. The Satanic Temple’s request was placed in recognition of the fact that a proposed Nativity display has been under consideration at the same location. The Satanic Temple (TST) — whose website describes their mission as one meant to facilitate “the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty” — holds to a firm belief in a strong separation of Church and State, but works to ensure plurality wherever there is a breach in the divide.Jex Blackmore, of TST’s Executive Ministry, whose office resides in TST’s Detroit Chapter headquarters, explains, “Where there is obstinate refusal to keep religious iconography off of public spaces, the least we can do is ensure that the Government is remaining neutral, respecting a diversity of religious views, with preference for, and exclusion of, none.”
The Satanic Temple made national headlines last week when it won similar approval for a holiday display in the Florida Capitol Rotunda. Conservative pundits from Glenn Beck to Fox News’s Tucker Carlson decried Florida’s concession to TST’s request which, according to Blackmore, simply underscores the popular commentators’ lack of understanding related to the constitutional legal values being upheld. “This is religious liberty, and we must never let our Government begin dictating which viewpoints are worthy of representation and which are not.”
TST’s holiday display approval comes shortly after MI’s House
of Representatives has approved the highly controversial Michigan Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (MRFRA), further adding to the Satanic holiday display’s significance, according to Blackmore. “Many of us suspect the MRFRA being short-sighted in that it doesn’t account for the multiple religions that may seek privilege and exemption under its umbrella. We want to make quite clear that we will work to advance our own religious values whenever such avenues are made available to us, and our values may run opposite that of some of the bill’s strongest advocates.”
The Satanic Temple is perhaps best known for their ongoing campaign to erect a Satanic monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol Building to “complement and contrast” a 10 Commandments monuments erected there in 2012. TST also runs ongoing campaigns to exempt children from corporal punishment and solitary confinement in schools, as well as offering exemptions for women from superfluous state-mandated pre- abortion information and procedures.
Start preparing for 2017!
The holiday season provides an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate a diversity of beliefs among Michigan citizens. We invite you to exercise your religious liberty by proposing a holiday display at the Michigan state Capitol.
We’ve provided a simple guide to help you prepare your display submission. We encourage you to apply soon – and reach out to us if you have any questions along the way.