Here comes ... Satan Claus? Among the Christmas tree, Nativity scene, and menorah at the Illinois statehouse holiday display sits a Satanic statue. The statue depicts a woman's hand holding an apple, a snake wrapped around her arm; it's a reference to the biblical story of the Garden of Eden, in which Satan, in the form of a snake, tempts Eve into eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. It was placed in the Capitol rotunda by the Chicago branch of the Satanic Temple, the State Journal-Register reports. "We see Satan as a hero in that story, of course, spreading knowledge," a spokesperson for the group explains. He further explains of the Satanic Temple itself, "Not only do we not worship a literal Satan, but we don’t believe one actually exists. Satan for us is a metaphor. ... Throughout literary history, (it’s) been used as a character that represents rebellion in the face of religious tyranny."
Despite that, the group's actions often spark an uproar, as they have in this case. The BBC reports that Illinois Family Action tweeted that the Satanic Temple fails to realize "that the little baby in the manger has CRUSHED Satan's head and the gates of hell will NOT prevail." The group had to apply to the secretary of state's office to put up the display, and the spokesperson for that office notes, "Under the Constitution, the First Amendment, people have a right to express their feelings, their thoughts. This recognizes that." The Capitol rotunda is a public space, and the government can't censor what is displayed there. The Belleville News-Democrat notes that the sculpture is being called "Snaketivity" and also includes the phrase, "Knowledge is the Greatest Gift." A GoFundMe raised more than $1,600 to put it up. (The group also put a goat-headed idol at another state capitol.)