A religious statue from the The Satanic Temple-Chicago was granted a place in the Illinois Capitol rotunda for the holiday season.
The four-foot sculpture, called “Knowledge Is the Greatest Gift,” depicts a woman’s hand holding an apple while a snake wraps around her forearm. It joins a Nativity scene in honor of Christmas and a menorah in honor of Hanukkah.
According to The State Journal-Register, this is the first display sponsored by the Temple of Satan’s Chicago chapter, and it is not without its critics.
Illinois Family Action, an anti-abortion pressure group, has taken to Twitter to lambast the statue, writing that “the gates of hell will NOT prevail.”
Satanic Temple monument was added to the #Illinois Capitol rotunda displays. They fail to realize that the little baby in the manger has CRUSHED Satan's head and the gates of hell will NOT prevail. https://t.co/xYXEKeRPus #ILRight #ccot
— IL Family Action (@ILfamilyaction) December 4, 2018
The state government disagrees. Because the Capital rotunda is a public place and because the “Snaketivity” statue was not funded by taxpayer dollars, the state says that the temple has the same rights to a display as other religious groups.
“Under the Constitution, the First Amendment, people have a right to express their feelings, their thoughts,” said Dave Druker, spokesman for the Illinois secretary of state, to The State Journal-Register. “This recognises that.”
Indeed, there is nothing inherently ominous about the Satanic Temple’s beliefs or policies. They do not believe in the supernatural but they do see Satan as the hero of the forbidden fruit story. Lex Manticore, a spokesperson for the city’s Satanic Temple told The State Journal-Register that the group views Satan as a symbol of “rebellion in the face of religious tyranny.”
The The Satanic Temple’s sculpture isn not the first display to challenges mainstream religion. For several years, the rotunda has featured a sign from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation that reads, “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” And in 2008, a Springfield resident installed an aluminum Festivus pole—for the rest of us.