A controversial statue of the 10 Commandments in Oklahoma was smashed when a man ran his car into it on Friday. When asked about why he had done so, the man identified as Michael Reed said Satan made him do it. While it is reported that the man is mentally ill, his claims of being a Satanist have brought into focus the controversial nature of the statue in that location. Previously, Oklahoma Satanists were seeking leave to erect a statue of Baphomet next to the existing statue, but they have condemned the man’s actions. While the religious issues should be taken seriously, Satan getting the blame for a vandalising the 10 Commandments is one of the more funny stories of the weekend.
The statue of the Biblical rules of conduct was erected in 2012 amidst controversy about the separation of church and state. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been suing over its existence for quite some time. Their argument is that it may constitute an endorsement of one religion over another by the government, which violates the Constitution. Last month, a judge ruled against the ACLU who has since made an appeal to a higher court.
Despite opposing the monument, the ACLU in Oklahoma has condemned this act of vandalism. They called it “highly offensive” to people of faith. A Republican State Representative, Mike Ritze, said, “We consider this an act of violence against the state of Oklahoma.” His family spent thousands of dollars as part of having it erected in the first place and have been vocal in the fight to keep it where it is. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, also a Republican, promised to have the monument rebuilt and said it commemorated the significance of the 10 Commandments as a guiding precursor to civil law.
While opposed to the monument, the Satanic Temple has also condemned the vandalism of the 10 Commandments statue as well as the blame Satan has got for the action. The Temple has been fighting to have its own religious statue in the state capital, a statue of Baphomet, a goat headed representation of the devil. After news broke of the destruction of the monument, however, it stated that it only wanted its monument in place if the 10 Commandments was also present in that place. “We want it to compliment and contrast the Ten Commandments,” the Temple said in a statement, “with both standing unmolested as a testament to American religious freedom and tolerance.” Despite the connection to Satan, Satanists do not approve.
While funny in a way, the story has its sad aspect. Michael Reed, the man who crashed his car into the statue may have mental problems. He was retained for a mental health evaluation after reporting that he had a mental illness and was not taking his medication. This may be bolstered by reports that the man’s family have said that this behavior is not typical. His mother said that he loves God and that people are praying for him. Reed also apparently made threats against President Obama and urinated on the monument. Ultimately, however, Satan got the blame for his vandalism of the 10 Commandments, a highly ironic excuse for a case of destruction of religious property.
Opinion By Lydia Bradbury