The Dark Lord has descended on Springfield just in time for the holidays, it seems.
The Chicago Chapter of the Satanic Temple announced Thursday it has installed a monument in the Illinois Capitol Rotunda along with displays from other religious groups.
The pitch-black statue, entitled “Snaketivity,” is of a woman’s hand, a serpent coiled around her arm, holding an apple. An inscription below the hand reads “Knowledge is the greatest gift.”
Illinois must abide by the First Amendment and allow temporary public religious displays in the capitol as long as they’re not paid for by taxpayer dollars, a sign in the rotunda explains.
“Because the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda is a public space, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays,” the sign reads.
The Satanic Temple’s Chicago chapter said it appreciates being able to contribute to the “numerous religious viewpoints on display in the Capitol during the winter holiday season.”
“The Satanic Temple is a non-theistic religious organization determined to halt the dangerous encroachment of theocracy into American government,” the statement reads.
The Illinois Family Action group, a nonprofit aiming to promote “pro-family issues and candidates” in Illinois, tweeted a sort of rebuke against “Snaketivity.”
“They fail to realize that the little baby in the manger has CRUSHED Satan's head and the gates of hell will NOT prevail,” the tweet reads.
Lux Armiger, the chairperson for the Chicago chapter of the Satanic Temple, said the organization is unconcerned with the "moral pronouncements" of Illinois Family Action.
"Rather, this holiday season, we choose to promote, and encourage Illinoisans to consider, a more spiritually rewarding message that 'Knowledge is the Greatest Gift,'" Armiger said.
Dave Druker, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, said the state’s attorneys view the display as a First Amendment issue.
“We accepted their permit, they filled out the form,” he said. “If you do something for one group to be consistent, don’t you have to do it for everybody?”
Druker said he’s gotten a few calls from private citizens upset by the satanic display, but he’s uncertain of how widespread that criticism is.
“But it’s been somewhat loud,” he said.
He said this was the first time he could recall a satanic presence at the Captiol Rotunda, but that many different religious and non-religious groups participate in the displays. One such organization is an “anti-religion” group from Madison, Wisconsin, he said, with a display that reads “Religion is nothing but myth and superstition.”
“And we do have a menorah,” he added.
The Satanic Temple also submitted plans in 2014 to have a statue of Baphomet—a deity with a man’s body and a goat’s head—to be included at the Oklahoma state Capitol after a display of the 10 Commandments was placed there in 2012.
The temple has 15 chapters across the country, it says.
Snaketivity will be on display until Dec. 29.