The emails and letters that have poured in to a New York satanic organization in the last few weeks are not exactly what the group expected, a spokesman said.
Spokesman Lucien Greaves said the Satanic Temple of New York has received much correspondence from people who say they are not Satanists but they still support his group's proposal to install a goat demon monument at the Oklahoma Capitol.
In fact, Greaves said, some of them are Christians.
“It's really the best I could hope for. The response has been remarkable, amazing,” Greaves said during a recent telephone interview.
“I couldn't have hoped for this magnitude of positive response, but I'm really moved by it. I'm happy and encouraged by people. We're getting emails from people who are Christians who feel comfortable reaching out to us and supporting it.”
The New York-based Satanic Temple caused a stir earlier this month when it unveiled designs for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan that it is proposing to be placed alongside a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of Oklahoma's Capitol.
The artist's rendering of the statue that was provided by the temple features Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed demon with horns, wings and a long beard.
The proposal has yet to be considered because the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission has placed a moratorium on considering any such requests while a lawsuit in opposition of the Ten Commandments monument is making its way through the courts. The Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to have that monument removed on the basis that it violates the separation of church and state.
In the meantime, Greaves said he feels his organization is presenting itself well, judging from the non-Satanists who have felt comfortable enough to approach the group through correspondence.
He said it could mean that many of them are not buying into the myths about Satanism, such as that all Satanists are “homicidal maniacs” or sacrificing animals.
“They are starting to look past the labels to see what we're actually doing and what we actually stand for. I am surprised, but I'm very happily surprised,” Greaves said.
“We've gotten a flood of emails from more Oklahomans who stand behind this project and are willing to support it — sign a petition, sign a waiver, you know, help establish our standing or help in any way they can,” he said.
“We've heard some criticism that we don't serve Oklahoma values, and I think there is no monolithic voice of Oklahoma values. There is a diverse population in Oklahoma like there is anywhere else, and it's simply ignorant to claim that there is one uniform voice of Oklahoma that can be spoken through any particular politician's narrow view.”
‘Plurality of voices'
Greaves said the Satanic Temple was contacted by its members in Oklahoma to spearhead the monument project.
Greaves said they believe that if the Ten Commandments monument is allowed to stay, other monuments such as the satanic statue also should be allowed. Other requests for monuments at the Capitol have been made by an animal rights group, the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and a Hindu leader in Nevada.
The satanic monument's supporters, including those who are not Satanists, also believe in this principle, Greaves said.
“This has definitely captured the imagination of a lot of people,” Greaves said.
“There's no small number of individuals. Granted, a lot of those individuals who reached out, with emails prefaced by ‘I don't consider myself a Satanist but ...' or even ‘I'm a Christian, however ...,' but they understand the value in upholding this constitutional freedom of religion and freedom of speech — the principle that we don't discriminate based on race, religion or creed, and that if you open up the public domain to one voice, you have to allow a plurality of voices and that's really what we're founded upon.”