LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Nearly four months after crews reinstalled the Ten Commandments monument on state capitol grounds, the Satanic Temple came back Thursday with a statue of its own.
The group's "Rally for the First Amendment" brought together Satanists, Christians, even the KKK as a flatbed truck wheeled the Baphomet monument to the capitol steps to chants of "Hail Satan!"
While some were there to protest, different beliefs mostly came with a unified message: all or none. They argue if the Ten Commandments stand on capitol grounds, their religious statues should, too.
"This is not a protest against the Ten Commandments," Lucien Greaves, the spokesperson for the Satanic Temple, told the crowd. "This is not a protest of Satanists against Christians. This is not a protest of secularists against believers. This is a rally for reason in the face of prejudice."
The tone throughout the rally remained respectful for the most part. Groups thanked the others for coming, some even had exchanges like the following:
"You're an intelligent man," a Christian said. "I could see you in heaven some day turning from your sin."
"What if I said I didn't want to go to heaven," a Satanist responded. "Heaven sounds boring to me."
The only time law enforcement got involved was when the second speaker, Chad Jones, took the podium. A masked protestor was not happy with what the Conway-based minister with Arkansas Progressive Christians was preaching.
"You're a liar! You're a fake! You're a phony!," he yelled.
"I love you, too," Jones responded.
The man also called Jones an "agent of Satan." The crowd booed his comments, as law enforcement escorted him out.
The Baphomet statue sat in the center of the rally, but comments about the lawmaker who spearheaded the push to bring the Ten Commandments to the capitol took center stage.
"Sen. Rapert will tell you that our monument is an attack upon Christianity," Greaves told the crowd. "But then Sen. Rapert also once described a gay pride parade as one of the most offensive displays against Christians and an attempt to intimidate people who believe in the word of God."
"It's all about the fake, it's all about the slur, it's all about the slander from these people," said Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, in his office at the capitol. "They're not serious, and they're not even real. It will be a very cold day in hell before we are ever forced to put up a monument like the profane one they brought."
Rapert skipped the rally to attend the governor's UCA, UA Little Rock I-40 Showdown announcement but reiterated how Lucien Greaves is not the man's real name. Rapert also said Jones has not identified as a Christian minister before and was planning to run for office against him.
A sign below the rally's makeshift stage on the flatbed read:
"Future home of the Baphomet monument
Presented in the spirit of religious pluralism by: The Satanic Temple with a special thanks to Senator Jason Rapert."
The group is now seeking a court order to require the state to install the statue.
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