Threats force Satan statue unveiling to secret Detroit venue

AP News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2015 4:14 PM
Threats force Satan statue unveiling to secret Detroit venue

DETROIT (AP) — An 8½-foot-tall bronze monument featuring a goat-headed Satan will be unveiled at a secret, ticketed event in Detroit after the owner of a popular restaurant and entertainment complex backed out and opponents issued threats, organizers said.

The 1½-ton Baphomet, which is backed by an inverted pentagram and flanked by statues of two young children gazing up at the creature, shows Satan with horns, hooves, wings and a beard.

The Satanic Temple, a group that advocates for the separation of church and state, will release the location of the unveiling on the day of the event, and details will be sent to ticketholders only, the group's co-founder Lucien Greaves told The Associated Press Monday.

"Tickets are going to be pre-ordered to cut down on harassment ... people threatening to burn the venue down," Greaves said. "We've gotten those kinds of messages."

"If people don't want to come, they don't need to come," he added.

Greaves said he reported the threats to authorities. The AP left a message Monday seeking comment from Detroit police.

The statue was to have been unveiled July 25 at Bert's Market Place in Detroit's Eastern Market district, but Bert Dearing said he gave the group back it's $3,000 rental fee when he learned who booked the place.

"Detroit is a very religious area," Dearing said. "When I rented the place, I just thought it was a church. I didn't know about the unveiling of a statue. We weren't aware they were into devil worshipping."

The Satanic Temple Detroit chapter founder Jex Blackmore has said the group doesn't worship Satan but does promote individuality, compassion and views that differ from Christian and conservative beliefs.

The statue was designed and built at a cost of more than $100,000 and had been planned for the state Capitol in Oklahoma City until Oklahoma's Supreme Court banned religious displays — including a monument of the Ten Commandments — on Capitol grounds.

Greaves said the statue will not remain in Detroit and that The Satanic Temple wants to erect it outside Arkansas' Statehouse in Little Rock where a Ten Commandments monument also is planned.

Detroit was selected for the unveiling because The Satanic Temple in the city has a "strong congregation," Greaves said. "We just have a good community over there."

Blackmore said Detroit has more than 200 registered members.

The group erected a display in December outside Michigan's state Capitol in Lansing. The "Snaketivity Scene" featured a snake offering a book called "Revolt of the Angels" as a gift. The snake was wrapped around the Satanic cross on the 3-feet-by-3-feet display. Like other religious displays, it was taken down each night.

Bishop Charles Ellis III, pastor of the 6,000-member Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, said he is not concerned about a statue depicting Satan being unveiled in the city because America "was built on freedom of speech and freedom of religion."

"If we ask others to be tolerant of our religion, we are going to be asked to be tolerant of their religion as well," Ellis said.

"Tolerable does not mean you have to practice what they practice or that you are condoning what they are practicing. I'm not saying I'm being accepting. I'm just saying I have no control over that."