The Battle for Our Souls

In today’s American society the materialistic world is winning the battle for our souls.  We feed our souls on cheap toys from China, junk food from our favorite drive-in and endless amounts of worthless television daily – while ignoring our nations Judeo-Christian framework.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by the slimmest of margins, that the Town of Greece, New York did not violate the First Amendment mandate that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” when it allowed clergy to invoke the name of “Jesus” and use other Christian language when giving opening prayers at meetings of the town’s board.

Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens had sued the town after they told a meeting of the board that its opening prayers were “offensive.” After Galloway and Stephens complained about the Christian nature of some of the prayers, the board made an effort to reach out to representatives of non-Christian denominations to say the prayer.

“They alleged that the town violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by preferring Christians over other prayer givers and by sponsoring sectarian prayers, such as those given ‘in Jesus’ name,’” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court in its 5-4 decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Sam Alito, and Clarence Thomas joined with Kennedy in voting to uphold allowing non-generic prayers at Town of Greece board meeting. Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

“No one can fairly read the prayers from Greece’s town meetings as anything other than explicitly Christian — constantly and exclusively so,” Justice Kagan wrote in her dissent opinion in the case.

While in Oklahoma City, officials overseeing the state’s capitol grounds are being asked to place a privately funded statue of Satan, near a monument of the Ten Commandments. The statue, which is to be cast in bronze and is near completion, depicts Satan as “Baphomet” with a goat’s head and horns with a boy on his left and a girl on his right.

“We decided to go with that because it is a fairly traditional character,” explained The Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves. “It also offers a lap that visitors can come to sit on, have their picture taken with.”

The Satanic Temple, out of New York, decided to ask for a permit for the statue after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol in November 2012.  That monument, also privately funded, was donated by Dr. Mike Ritze, a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Because the Ten Commandments monument was donated, no public monies used, the State Legislature authorized the Capitol Preservation Commission to help the donors in selecting an appropriate site for its placement. Given that privately funded monuments would be considered, The Satanic Temple submitted its statue-design to the Preservation Commission in December.

But in August, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit to have the Ten Commandments removed, arguing that it violates the state’s constitution and conveys “state endorsement and support” of an “explicitly religious message” on public property. As a result of that ongoing lawsuit and until it is settled, no new monuments are being erected on Capitol grounds.

Greaves warns that if the Capitol Preservation Committee denies The Satanic Temple’s permit for a monument to Satan, his group will consider legal action.

“Yes. They clearly have the real estate to accommodate our monument and, in fact before we offered to donate our monument, Oklahoma replied to the suit brought against them by the ACLU with the claim that they intended the 10 Commandments to be only the first in what was envisioned to be an eventual monument park,” said Greaves.

Finally, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox says he supports keeping a 6-foot-tall statue of Jesus on U.S. Forest Service land next to a Whitefish ski hill. He filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as it considers a legal challenge by an atheist and agnostic organization.

“I think the overwhelming majority of Montanans and Americans would strongly oppose removing the memorial and all it represents,” Fox said in a statement.

Fox is asking the court to uphold a federal judge’s August ruling allowing the Forest Service to renew a permit for the statue at Whitefish Mountain Resort. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen says the statue is used more for photo opportunities and as a meeting point than for religious reflection.

However, the Freedom from Religion Foundation wants the appellate court to overturn the decision, saying the statue on federal land violates ‘the constitutional separation of church and state.’ The group’s co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said the attorney general’s stance is disappointing but not surprising.

“It’s par for the course with public officials these days,” she said. “It’s increasingly common for politicians to unite with religion and fight our lawsuits. They should be defending our secular constitution.”

The Forest Service first indicated in 2011 it would reject a new permit for the statue, which occupies a 25-by-25 foot patch of land at the ski resort, but reversed itself in 2012. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization, had the statue erected on the site in the 1950s.


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