How Tall Is Satan – Just before midnight Saturday, about 700 people gathered in an old industrial warehouse a few blocks from the Detroit River for what they said was “the largest public satanic ceremony in history.” Most of them claimed to be followers of Satanism, a loosely organized sect of the occult that describes itself as a religious group. Others came simply because they were curious. Satanists, after all, exist in the popular psyche as those who casually sacrifice goats and impregnate Mia Farrow’s Lucifer child. If this ceremony was truly unprecedentedly grand, who knows what it might have been?
The reality of the event—and of the modern satanic movement in general—was tame and, if Facebook images are to be believed, harmlessly festive: a cross between an underground rave and a carefully planned Halloween party. They were there to publicly unveil the colossal bronze statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed statue that, after centuries of various appropriations, is now the totem of modern Satanism. The pentagram, a familiar logo of orthodox Satanists and disaffected teenagers, originated as a rough outline of Baphomet’s head.
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The statue itself is impressive: nearly nine feet tall and weighing about a ton. The horned idol sits on a pentagram-adorned throne, but it’s the idol’s wings, not its seat, that curiously alludes to the Iron Throne from the popular HBO fantasy series. He’s got the horns of a ram, but the biceps of a guy who lifts four or five seconds a week. His legs, which are crossed, do not end in feet, but in hooves. He might have looked more menacing if it weren’t for the two bronze statues of children standing on either side of him—the girl to his left. the boy on his right. They both stare at him.
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“Baphomet contains binary elements that symbolize the desire to reconcile opposites, embrace differences and even celebrate,” said Late Night’s Jax Blackmore, who is organizing the opening. In a sense, the statue is a litmus test of American pluralism: At what point does religious freedom make people uncomfortable?
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Blackmore heads the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple, one of the few coherent organizations that are otherwise disorganized and doctrinally vague. The Satanic Temple has branches in Florida and in Finland, Italy and Minneapolis. Its headquarters are in New York, but the Detroit office is its first and largest base. Blackmore — who, by the way, uses a pseudonym for security reasons — grew up in metro Detroit and returned to the city to work at the Satanic Temple after lecturing on Satanism at Harvard.
When asked if his group is a religious organization (or rather an anti-religious organization), he explains that it is less of a church and more of a close group based on what he repeatedly calls “satanic principles.” This is not the doctrine you might expect. Excerpt from the band’s website:
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The Satanic Temple is based on the basic premise that too much suffering is bad and that reducing suffering is good. We do not believe in symbolic “evil”.
More importantly, however, the group does not promote “belief in a personal Satan.” According to their logic, Satan is an abstraction, as Nancy Kaffer wrote
Last year, “a literary figure, not a deity—he advocates rationality, skepticism, speaking truth to power, even at great personal cost.”
Let’s perhaps call it libertarian gothic – a darker twist on Ayn Rand’s crusade. One witnesses a certain violent reaction in the satanic temple militias to the violation of personal liberties, especially when the violation is caused by a cross. The statue of Baphomet is an allusive response to the satanic temple
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“We chose Baphomet because of its current association with the figure of Satan, and felt that its symbolism would be appropriate to display next to a monument of another faith,” Blackmore said.
The monument he refers to is a controversial six-foot marble slab inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. In 2012, state Rep. Mike Ritz paid $10,000 out of pocket to place the sign in the shadow of the Capitol dome, drawing outrage from those who believed it was a violation of the separation of church and state. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of Oklahoma. The Satanic Temple fought fire with fire. If Christians could transfer their doctrine to public property, the argument went, why couldn’t they?
The state disagreed and rejected the Satanic Temple’s proposal to put the Baphomet statue under legal ownership. But the case is now moot: A month ago, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the Ten Commandments monument violated the state constitution, a ruling that will likely stand regardless of a defiant governor.
However, the fighting seems to be constant. A Detroit pastor described the statue’s unveiling as a “welcome party for the ungodly.” A group of Catholic activists in the city are actively encouraging people to attend the local cathedral and speak out against the statue – a prayer, if you will. Meanwhile, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently signed a bill that would place the Ten Commandments on a similar monument at the state capitol in Little Rock. The Satanic Temple may be planning a trip. The Detroit Satanic Temple unveiled this 8 1/2 foot tall bronze statue of Satan on July 25, 2015 at an undisclosed location.
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— The “largest public satanic ceremony in history” took place Saturday in Detroit, the city that has the largest and oldest branch of the National Satanic Organization.
The group unveiled the nearly 9-foot-tall goat-headed bronze statue of Baphomet in a private ceremony attended by 600 ticket holders, Lucien Graves, co-founder of the National Satanic Temple in Boston, told ABC News. The Satanic Temple in Detroit has over 200 registered members.
“They are very active and well organized,” Graves told ABC News. “There was probably another wave of interest after that event.”
The Detroit chapter is the first of the national organizations, Graves said. It owes its growth since its inception in August 2014 to the founder of the Detroit branch, Jax Blackmore.
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“It’s pretty much because of him. He was just a very confident person who started working with us,” Graves told ABC News. The couple met in Boston and then moved to Detroit and hit it off there.
“I think the cathedral speaks to the radical, politically charged spirit of the city and has appealed to many of us as a force for positive, effective change in this community,” Blackmore told ABC News.
The statue was originally planned for the Oklahoma State Capitol, but the state supreme court banned all religious displays there, including the Ten Commandments. The statue was created with $28,180 raised by 1,041 people on Indiegogo.com last year. The fundraising page states that the purpose of the statue was to contrast the Ten Commandments monument that was previously on display.
Tickets for Saturday’s event were $25 and the venue was revealed to ticket holders only, ABC Detroit affiliate WXYZ reported. Meanwhile, Christians living in Detroit protested the event nearby. The event served as “a call to arms to launch our biggest fight yet against self-serving theocrats in the name of individual free exercise rights,” the invitation reads.
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“People are trying to push a religious agenda, whether it’s part of public opinion or not,” Greaves said. “Bands will take it as an insult to them, and it’s not. We really don’t care if they’re offended or not.”
Baphomet was chosen for the statue because it is recognized in modern times as a satanic figure and because it represents “the reconciliation of opposites,” Blackmore said.
“Baphomet is both animal and human, female and male, with one hand pointing to the sky and the other to the earth,” Blackmore said. “He is representative of the duality of our nature.
A crowd gathers and waits to attend the unveiling of a statue of Satan, July 25, 2015, hosted by the Detroit Satanic Temple.
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According to its mission statement, the national Satanic Temple organization “facilitates the communication and mobilization of politically savvy Satanists, secularists and defenders of individual liberty.” Among the causes he supports are gay marriage, reproductive rights and the elimination of corporal punishment in schools. The national organization “does not promote belief in a personal Satan.”
“To accept the name of Satan is to accept rational inquiry free from supernatural superstitions and archaic traditions,” reads the FAQ on TheSatanicTemple.com. , a half-goat, Baphomet sculpture by Brooklyn sculptor Mark Porter, commissioned by the Detroit Satanic Temple