First Amendment

The Satanic Temple Sues After a City Rejects Its Pentagram-Covered Veteran Monument

The group takes its First Amendment crusade to a public park in Minnesota.

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The Satanic Temple is suing the city of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, because it won't let them erect a Satanic monument in a public park.

The story behind the case begins in 2016, when the Belle Plaine Veterans Club put up a steel monument called "Joe" in the Belle Plaine Veterans Memorial Park—a publicly owned space. The monument depicts a soldier kneeling before a Christian cross, and it was removed after a few months after critics accused the city of violating the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. (To refresh, that's the bit prohibiting the government from creating laws "respecting an establishment of religion.")

In February 2017, the city council voted to let private parties erect temporary displays in the memorial park. "Joe" received a permit to return. The Satanic Temple also applied for, and received, a permit for its own monument. This display was to consist of a black cube covered in pentagrams, with an upturned helmet at the top; a plaque would say, "In honor of Belle Plaine veterans who fought to defend the United States and its Constitution."

Though "Joe" returned to the park, the Satanic Temple never got an opportunity to erect its effort. That July, the city council unanimously passed a second resolution to rescind the first, explaining that "allowing privately-owned memorials of displays in [Belle Plaine Veterans Memorial Park] no longer meets the intent or purpose of the Park." The council also encouraged the voluntary removal of "Joe," to make the resolution easier to pass.

The Satanic Temple is now arguing that the government violated its right to free speech and discriminated against its "controversial but constitutionally protected religious viewpoints." Had the monument been erected, it would have been the first Satanic Temple display on public property.

This latest lawsuit joins the list of Satanic Temple First Amendment fights. The group made headlines last August after demanding that its statue of Baphomet—a demonic, goat-headed creature—be placed in the Arkansas State Capitol. The statue was unveiled after a Republican state lawmaker sponsored and quietly installed a Ten Commandments display.

Bonus video: A new documentary depicts devil worshippers as unlikely defenders of the First Amendment.

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  1. Why not sell off the park itself? Oblige the new owner to keep it litter-free, etc. while making its own decisions on statues (so long as it cleans off the pigeon poop).

    1. Of course, as most of us here agree, the solution to many of these types of problems is generally to promote private ownership and let the owners decide.

      1. Hopefully the private owners will not allow any “theatrical stunts” that might include deceitfully deadpan “parody.” See the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

        https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    2. An excellent idea, showing the perils of government doing things it need not.

      Several years ago, I looked into national and city parks for visitors and costs. Central Park in New York City had a $37.5M budget and 35M visitors. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco had a $10M budget and 13M visitors. That’s a buck a visit. Of course people would scream bloody murder if they privatized now, but a buck a visit? Eminently affordable.

      National parks were a bit more confusing, since I don’t have experience with federal budget documents and didn’t want to get familiar. So I don;t know if the budgets include entrance fees, for instance. Still, eminently affordable. I tallied the results per visitor in both budget costs and employee hours, just to cover all bases.

      The National Park Service in 2012 had 84M acres and 287M visitors, 21K full time equivalent employees, and a budget of $2.25B, $8 and 9 employee minutes per visitor and $109K per employee. California was $344M with 85M visitors, $4 per visitor. There were no indications of days per visit.

      Yellowstone is 2.2M acres and in 2012 had 3.4M visitors, 557 full time equivalent employees, and a budget of $35M, or $10 and 19 employee minutes per visitor and $63K per employee.

      Yosemite is 760K acres and in 2012 had 3.9M visitors, 689 full time equivalent employees, and a budget of $29M, or $8 and 21 employee minutes per visitor and $42K per employee.

    3. WhatwhatWHAT! And have the park in private hands? Private *profit-grubbing* hands. Why the new owner might charge an entrance fee to a place that was previously free(a).

      (a) Read: Not free at all since operations were covered by a mandatory tax you paid whether you used the place or not.

    4. It depends on the terms of the deal. If you put too many obligations on the owner (such as ‘keep it as a park’, ‘keep it litter-free’, etc), at some point you will cross the line and the courts will find that to be a sham transaction and that the park owner is effectively an agent of the government and therefore bound by the First Amendment.

      But if you don’t put all those obligations on the owner, you’re taking a pretty big risk that your park won’t stay a park for long.

  2. So they’re suing because they didn’t put up their cube when they had the chance?

    Nagging little leftists besmirching the name of the Devil.

    1. They’re suing because the city pulled a bait-and-switch to try and circumvent their First Amendment obligations.

  3. It’s weird that I feel bad for the city here.

  4. So I am 100% in with the idea that government shouldn’t be placing any religious monuments on public property. Of course, if they allow private usage to put up religious pieces on the public property, then they must be content neutral and open to ANY and ALL religious requests. If the city council wants to put up a cross, then I am going to argue for Mjolnir or a valknut.
    What I don’t understand in this particular case is why the Satanic Temple is suing. It sounds like the city council was going to allow both, and then decided to not allow any. Where is the discrimination?

    1. I think they’re saying that the permission granted and then withdrawn somehow represents discrimination. I genuinely hope they do not win this case.

      I agree, either both or neither but this mostly sounds like some small town (Pop. 7119) tried to allow some minor monument and are now involved in a damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario.

      1. Opening a window and closing it in the nick (!) of time sounds like discrimination to me. I have no sympathy for the city if that’s what they did; it’s intentional favoritism which they knew was unconstitutional. Just because they are small town bigots doesn’t excuse them.

        1. Why? They passed a law, it had a consequence that was not particularly intended, so they removed the law. The old status was removed as well.

          1. I expect the Satanic Temple’s argument is that this was not just a bunch of hicks making a mistake and correcting it, but intentional. That’s why I think the “encourage the removal” bit is just window dressing that won’t hold up.

            There have been numerous county boards, school boards, etc, which do the same thing — long standing practice of Christian prayers before meetings, then when a Hindu or Muslim wants a turn, suddenly the board decides no prayers at all.

            1. […] then when a Hindu or Muslim wants a turn, suddenly the board decides no prayers at all.

              Which would be acceptable, if eye-roll worthy, so long as they stick to it.

              But if after banning pre-meeting prayers, they started allowing it again, but then shut down the practice right before a non-Christian prayer was going to be said, that’s not acceptable.

              1. How many times do they have to do this before it counts?

                They did it once here. That’s enough for most crimes.

    2. I got the impression that the city council opened a window just long enough for the Christian monument, then closed it to prevent anything else. But that’s just supposition from little detail. The bit about “suggesting” the first monument be removed was a nice touch.

      1. The Joe monument went up, there were complaints, and it went down.

        The council created a ‘free speech’ area where anyone who got a permit could put up a monument. The ‘Joe’ people and the Satanic Temple people both got permits.

        In February.

        The Satanic Temple said fine, we’ll be along in July to put it up. From Massachusetts. The ‘Joe’ people, being locals, just put theirs up. In February.

        There were complaints.

        The council said screw it and shut down the zone.

        The only reason the Satanic Temple people didn’t get to put theirs up is that they couldn’t be bothered to do it when they got the permit.

        But they’re suing.

        Just like they sued the Sabrina show. Because they think they own the ‘Satan Loves the Little Children’ image.

        I’m starting to get a real phelpy vibe from these people.

        1. What’s next? NAMBLA starts its own child rape religion, with PB as a founding member, and tries to force places like this to let them put up a monument to Chester the Molester or Pedobear?

          Fuck these sickos. There’s a fucking limit.

        2. It seems like the Satanic Temple waiting until their permit was approved to design and build their monument, whereas the “Joe” monument was already built since it had been on display already

          From what I have read the complaints about the “free speech zone” were that the Satanic Temple would be allowed to put up a monument, so they shut the whole thing down before they could.

          To me this amounts to discrimination, since they allowed one approved party to use the area, then shut it down because people didn’t like the next approved party

          1. Both would have been up at the same time.

            Both groups had to have images of their monuments to show on the permit application.

            The Satanic temple had a black box with half-assed pentagrams on it, and an upturned helmet. Surely they could have thrown that garbage together BEFORE July(I think their ‘monument’ is slapdash garbage that belittles the message they’re trying for. When you’re using humor and shock to skewer sacred cows you can’t half-ass it).

            The same people who complained about ‘Joe’ the first time complained again when it went back up. And then the Christians chimed in.

            None of that alters the fact that the Satanic Temple wasn’t ready.

            And they’re suing because THEY dropped the ball.

    3. Why religious in particular? Why not have a restriction on all monuments? Why is the government subsidizing *anyone’s* viewpoint?

      1. Here is the definition of monument.

        “An outstanding enduring achievement:”

        People conflate symbols with monuments as though erecting them will impart some outstanding enduring achievement upon them.

        Satanist. Fuck that.

  5. Stupid fuckers probably want a monument to kiddie porn at the playground too.

    The brain dead would tolerate it.

    1. PB would love it. Check my comment above.

  6. Edgy atheist trolls are edgy and atheistic.

    1. No more or less edgy than the trolls at the ‘Veteran’s Club’.

  7. […] The Satanic Temple Sues After a City Rejects It Pentagram-Covered Veteran Monument  Reason […]

  8. I’d like to point out that The Satanic Temple is now more pro-free speech than the ACLU.

    1. Occurred to me too.

  9. >>>Had the monument been erected, it would have been the first Satanic Temple display on public property.

    the zero-sum panty-waisting is hilarious. oh no, if there are two statues people might think.

    1. You want people to think for themselves? That leads to loose morals and libertarianism!!

      1. the less-crowded room *is* pleasant.

  10. This does not bode well for Trump in 2020:

    Firefighters Union Endorses Biden

    The International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents more than 316,000 full-time firefighters, announced their endorsement of Biden in Pittsburgh, something Schaitberger said is one of the earliest endorsements they’ve ever done, and one they did not give Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

    “That marked the first time we’ve ever not endorsed in a presidential election,” he said.

    Schaitberger bluntly admits Clinton just did not connect with labor, but Biden does.

    1. So the 10 people at the top have been paid off in some form to support Biden. So what?

  11. The difference between this and Christian monuments is that the latter were erected sincerely and these people are atheist trolls.

  12. I don’t know if anyone’s super gonna care, but Church of Satan is the Libertarian Satanic Religion, Satanic Temple just seems go be humanist.

    1. The Satanic Temple is the remnants of the group that used to call themselves ‘Satanic Reds’–a group that was roundly critisized for their satanic idiocy.

      They’re annoying leftists.

  13. I think someone should work really hard to get people who have an unwarranted faith in government branded as a religious movement.

    Then we can get rid of all the monumental bridges, buildings, statues, and outright monuments that are largely present to pay homage to government and it’s acolytes.

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  15. “The Satanic Temple Sues After a City Rejects Its Pentagram-Covered Veteran Monument. The group takes its First Amendment crusade to a public park in Minnesota.”

    A “satanic temple?”
    Sounds like Congress to me.

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