That Satanist Statue

The question of religious tolerance raises its head again in the form of religious statuary.  You’ve probably already read about it, but in case you haven’t, a group of Satanists wants to place a statue of theirs next to a monument of the Ten Commandments on Oklahoma government property.  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/devil-worship-group-unveils-satanic-statue-design-oklahoma-state-capitol-article-1.1568893

I don’t approve of religious monuments of any kind on government property; it creates an atmosphere of exclusion to all those who do not follow that religion.  As a Buddhist, I would feel silly swearing on a Bible in a court (really, I could swear with equal gravity on a copy of Lord of the Rings, a dictionary, or a cookbook–they all hold the same value as far as I’m concerned), and I don’t say “under God” when I say the pledge. I would be uncomfortable entered a government building with a Christan monument outside.  Would I be guaranteed the same service in that building?  I certainly should be; that’s what freedom of religion is supposed to guarantee.

However, that piece of separation of church and state was broken with the addition of the Ten Commandments to the property, so once that occurred, every other religion has the right to put up their own.  They are allowed equal representation.  Really, if this played out fully, the lawn would be so littered with religious monuments no one would be able to see the building.

I understand the gut reaction of Christians to feel that the Satanic monument is set up to spite them.  However, speaking as a non-Christian, I deal with that “spite” all the time.  Just yesterday, I politely told a Jehovah’s witness on my doorstep that I wasn’t interested.  Later, when I returned home, their pamphlets were taped to my door.  So I specifically say I’m not interested, and get my home plastered with their propaganda?  In school, for daring to say I didn’t want to participate in “pray at the pole,” I was called a Satan worshiper, told I was going to hell, and that I was evil.  I didn’t say they shouldn’t go, or that they were wrong; all I ever said was,  “No thank you.  I don’t care to go.”  For that, I’m evil?

For the record, the only people who’ve ever told me I was stupid and wrong for my religion were Christians and Atheists.  I’ve had Christians tell me I’m hell bound and Atheists tell me I’m an idiot and can’t appreciate science.  My encounters with Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Jewish people, Wiccans, and yes, even Satanists have all been very pleasant.  My encounters with Buddhists were so welcoming that I chose their path.

I suspect the Satanist statue is a response to experiences similar to my own.

Ultimately, however, my distaste for the subject overall is this: how much does it cost to make a Ten Commandments monument?  Rather than arguing about creating it and spending the money to make it, and then spending money on lawsuits, couldn’t we use that funding to repair our failing schools, feed the poor, create shelters, create mental health programs, or provide heath care to those in poverty?  I mean, really, what would Jesus have wanted more–a rock with engravings or food in the hands of hungry?  I seem to remember reading something about that once…

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