The Satanic Temple temporarily placed a bronze statue of a goat-headed, winged creature called Baphomet at the Arkansas State Capitol during a rally to call for the removal of a Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds. About 150 Satanists, atheists, and Christians attended the peaceful First Amendment rally Thursday, the AP reports. The Satanic Temple says the Ten Commandments monument violates constitutional freedom of religion rights and that the installation of their 7 ½-foot-tall statue showing the 14th-century idol seated and accompanied by smiling children would demonstrate religious tolerance. "If you're going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others, and if you don't agree with that then let's just not have any at all," Satanic Arkansas cofounder Ivy Forrester says.
The statue of Baphomet can't be installed under a 2017 state law that requires legislative sponsorship for consideration of any monument. The Satanist group removed the statue later. The Ten Commandments monument at the Arkansas Capitol was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jason Rapert and installed quietly in 2017. Less than 24 hours after its installation, a man drove his car into the monument, smashing it to pieces. Rapert says he respects the protesters' First Amendment rights, but also called them "extremists" and said "it will be a very cold day in hell before an offensive statue will be forced upon us."