I’ve written often about the public meeting prayer issue we had in Forsyth County, and as a result I had many opportunities to discuss the issue with friends, family and readers of this little ‘ol blog of mine. In those discussions one of my greatest frustrations was when someone would say, “Well if they don’t want to hear the prayer they just don’t have to listen to it or they can step outside until the prayer’s done.” It was frustrating for a few reasons, not the least of which was that it indicated they didn’t seem to care that people who didn’t share their religious beliefs would have to experience unnecessary discomfort in order to partake in a civic process that is available to all citizens of every religious persuasion (or lack thereof). That’s why I’d love to see a project in Oklahoma come to fruition:
In January the Satanic Temple announced plans to erect a monument glorifying the Dark Lord on the front lawn of the Oklahoma Statehouse. An Indiegogo campaign was launched with what seemed like a somewhat lofty goal of $20,000, but by the time donations ended almost $30,000 had been raised. Now an artist trained in classical sculpture is toiling away in New York, crafting a Baphomet figure sitting beneath a pentagram and flanked by two children gazing upward in loyalty. When it is finished, it will be cast in bronze and, the Satanists hope, eventually displayed in Oklahoma.
The statue is a direct response to the state’s installation of a Ten Commandments monument outside the Capitol in 2012. State Representative Mike Ritze paid for the controversial statue with his own money, and therefore it was considered a donation and OK to place on government property. Following that line of reasoning, the Satanic Temple submitted a formal application for their monument.
As Trait Thompson of the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission told CNN last December, “Individuals and groups are free to apply to place a monument or statue or artwork.” The applications are then approved or rejected by the Commission. Unfortunately, the state has placed a halt on issuing permits for any other monuments until a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against Ritze’s Commandments monument is settled.
So here’s the thing we Christians need to understand – if we open government meetings with a sanctioned prayer or erect monuments like a cross or the Ten Commandments outside of government buildings, then we are forcing some of our fellow citizens to experience a level of discomfort similar to what you’re likely feeling when you look at that satanic monument. If you’re willing to allow monuments of all belief systems to be erected around your government buildings, or to have public meetings opened with invocations to any deity dreamed up by a group of people, then I guess there’s nothing left to argue about, but if you aren’t then you’re nothing more than a hypocrite and a violator of the Golden Rule.