The idea of American “separation between Church and State” is generally agreed to have come from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists. In this letter, Jefferson says with a rather individualistic sentiment, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship.” He continues, “that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
However, Jefferson was merely mirroring the beliefs of the Baptists to whom he was replying. The letter from the Danbury Baptists says, “Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific.” Their main concern seemed to be protection from the government infringing on their religious liberty, a concern to which Jefferson appeared to agree.
Though the “right to religious freedom” does not appear in the original Constitution, it appears in the first amendment, which declares, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” alongside other protections.
It is under these American paradigms that the Satanic Temple has recently unveiled a statue of the demon Baphomet in Little Rock, Arkansas in a protest. The action was done in response to a monument to the Ten Commandments being displayed at the State Capitol. A spokesman for the Satanic Temple going by the pseudonym Lucien Greaves explains, “Freedom of Religion means that the government must not be allowed to endorse one religion over another or inhibit any religious voices from access to public forums in favor of another.”
The group explained that the rally “is intended to bring together religious leaders of different faiths to discuss the importance of the First Amendment and its protection for religious pluralism.”
Is the Satanic Temple correct in its understanding of the United State’s laws regarding freedom of religion? The answer to that question depends upon who you ask. Some would certainly see it, as somewhat like apples and oranges. After all, this demonic figure was not brought up in opposition to a holy figure like Moses or Jesus, but in opposition to historic laws (for which an argumentaire could at least be made that they are the basis of Western Law due to the West’s overwhelmingly Judeo-Christian heritage) in front of a state’s capitol.
Regardless of any arguments for the protest based upon religious freedom, the statue of the demon could not be up for long. Any like monument requires legislative sponsorship to be permanently allowed, thanks to a 2017 law. A day before the protest on August 16, there was a peaceful protest against the statue by America Needs Fatima, which gathered around 300 on the Feast Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to rally against the statue and to make reparation for it.
Caiman Cotton is a Lead Contributor for theDailyLead.