Between a Christmas tree and a menorah display in the Illinois state capitol, a statue from the Satanic Temple is standing for the holiday season.
The display shows an apple upheld by an arm which has been encircled by a snake. The words “Knowledge is the greatest gift” is written across the front of the black base.
The satanic tribute was erected at the statehouse rotunda in Springfield. Near the display is an explanation from the local government.
“The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public displays in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars,” it reads.
“Because the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays.”
The Satanic Temple in Chicago ran a campaign on GoFundMe, calling it Snaketivity. The project funded just over its goal of $1,500. The leftover proceeds are expected to be donated to the Satanic Temple.
Organizers said the goal of the display is to “no longer allow one religious perspective to dominate the discourse in the Illinois State Capitol rotunda during the holiday season.”
The Satanic Temple was founded in 2012 in Salem, Massachusetts. The group describes itself as non-theistic and does not believe in a literal Satan. On the website, the organization said the group’s goal is to “exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things.”
The group has launched similar campaigns in the past.
In 2015, they proposed a display on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol. Shortly afterward, a court ordered the removal of a Ten Commandments monument on the capitol grounds, and the temple’s request was withdrawn.
They have also filed a lawsuit against the state of Missouri, challenging informational pamphlets that the state requires abortion providers to distribute. The literature reads, “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.” The Satanic Temple argued that the requirement violated its members’ religious freedom, because they believe in the inviolability of one’s body.