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Michigan Capitol To Host Satanic Display For Holidays

Jex Blackmore, director of the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Ministry

Jex Blackmore, director of the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Ministry

Earlier this month it was announced that Florida’s Capitol would host a satanic display – now the Michigan Capitol will follow suit.  According to MyFoxDetroit, the Satanic Temple in Detroit has created their own holiday display to be set up on the steps the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing starting on Dec. 21.  “We really try to provide rational insight where ever the satanic voice might benefit,” said Jex Blackmore, director of the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Ministry. [2]

It’s a very important time to remind legislators and to provide and empower people who have beliefs that aren’t mainstream, this is an opportunity to have your voice be heard. [2]


Bearing the message “The Greatest Gift is Knowledge,” a holiday display by the Satanic Temple will accompany a Christian Nativity scene on the grounds of the Michigan State Capitol.

The Satanist group announced it will display a “Snaketivity” scene featuring a snake wrapped around a Satanic cross. “The snake kind of represents the myth of human enlightenment, and curiosity, and you know, a real liberation of the human spirit and minds,” said Jex Blackmore, director of the Detroit chapter of The Satanic Temple. [3] [4] Jex Blackmore said her group jumped at the opportunity to create a display of their own. But she said she’s not trying to hijack Christmas. “It’s certainly not something to spite any certain faith. It’s really just an affirmation of our own beliefs on the holiday season,” Blackmore said. [3]  All displays on the Michigan State Capitol must adhere to 3’x3′ size guidelines and must be taken down at night. The nativity scene is usually a permanent structure during the holidays.  The Satanist group was able to demonstrate that their exhibit complied. [13]

The group’s “Snaketivity” scene will be displayed from Dec. 21-23 2014. The group plans to remove the display each night.  She adds that the Satanic Temple is hoping the holiday display episode will serve as an example to the state Legislature, where the Michigan Religious Freedom and Restoration Act has stirred debate over allowing people and businesses to claim exemptions from state laws owing to their religious beliefs.  Blackmore says, “Many of us suspect [it’s] shortsighted in that it doesn’t account for the multiple religions that may seek privilege and exemption under its umbrella.” [5] She told My Fox Detroit: “It’s Christmas, it’s holidays, multiple people celebrate this time because we all have work off and it’s a reason to celebrate,” Blackstone said. “Everybody chooses different ways to celebrate. But having one singular view, especially coming from the Capitol, promoting one secular view is extremely narrow-minded.” [2] And she also said that the idea of erecting non-Christian holiday displays might spread.  “We’ve inspired a lot of enthusiasm, and other chapters of The Satanic Temple are looking into the possibility of submitting displays across the nation,” Blackmore says. “It’s a bit late in the season now, but I feel the next year’s holiday season will see a lot more in the way of Satanic displays.” [5]


John Truscott of the Michigan State Capitol Commission

John Truscott of the Michigan State Capitol Commission says there was really nothing they could do to stop it. “The Constitution’s First Amendment rights do protect free speech, so that would be allowed,” Truscott said. “Personally, I’m so opposed to this,” he added.  Truscott said he had conferred with the state attorney general but said that as long as the Satanists abide by the rules — they must dismantle the 3-foot-by-3-foot display every night — the group is within its constitutional rights. [10] Truscott, who consider the idea of a satanic display “repulsive,”  [10] said earlier plans for a Christian nativity scene fell through when the person who wanted to put it up couldn’t find anyone to break it down each night. Capitol rules don’t allow permanent displays. [3] [10] A publicity stunt? Maybe. But now, others are rallying to get the nativity scene back on the Capitol lawn. Truscott said Sen. Rick Jones told him he’d be willing to put one up himself.  “The Satanists have actually, maybe, created some Christmas spirit, by bringing attention to this, and now we’ve got somebody willing to do the other side of it, in the spirit of the holiday season,” he said. [3]

David Bullock of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church

Rev. David Bullock of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church

“This is strange, Christmas is being hijacked by Satan,” Rev. David Bullock of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church told the FOX2 news crew.  FOX 2 reports, the Satanic Chapter of Detroit started on this project after hearing about a plan for a church installing a nativity scene in front of the state capitol – a plan they say has been abandoned by the church.   After hearing about the Satanic Temple display, state Sen. Rick Jones is attempting to get plans for a nativity scene going once again.  “I’m a little outraged that a satanic group has decided to steal a Christian holiday,” said Jones. “As a Christian, I think it’s important that we respond to this,” mlive.com reports.

Tupac Hunter

Tupac Hunter

Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, member of the Michigan Senate, representing the 5th District and Minority Floor Leader, severely criticized the Satanic Temple exhibit and quoted Jesus Christ as denouncing Satan as “a liar and the father of lies.”  “This is an effort to mock the concept of religious freedom” and “an attempt to scorn Christianity,” Hunter said. Hunter’s speech elicited a chorus of “amens” as Republicans in the GOP-dominated Senate went on record in support of the minority floor leader’s comments.[4]


Sen. Rick Jones

When the satanic display was allowed, senators came out en bloc against it and decided tout suite to allow the nativity scene. Senator Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit denounced the Satanist display, saying it was only put up at Christmas to mock Christianity. Amid a bi-partisan chorus of “amens,” Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, announced that the nativity would go up.  [13] Initially, “A group wanted to put up a Christian Nativity scene at the Capitol. But the rules are that it must be put up in the morning and taken down at night. No one volunteered,” Jones wrote on Facebook on Monday. “I cannot stand by and allow Satan to win this one. I have volunteered to put up and take down the Christian Nativity scene everyday.”  Led by state Sen. Rick Jones, a group of volunteers stepped forward to put up a donated Nativity scene and take it down each day. Consequently, a Christian Nativity will now be erected on the Capitol grounds, starting Friday morning.  [5]  [9] [11] Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, made the announcement Tuesday after Sen. Jones followed up with a post Wednesday morning, saying that a Nativity had been donated by the Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland shop in Frankenmuth, the Michigan town whose website boasts “Welcome to Christmas time all year long.” Jones also said he had received several hundred offers of help with the display and would be ready to unveil it Friday. “I will not allow this Satanic group to hijack the CHRISTmas season for their message,” Jones said [9] [10] Rules issued by the Michigan Legislative Council Facilities Agency prohibit displays from remaining up at the Capitol between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. According to the Lansing State Journal, an out-of-state group got permission to erect a Nativity scene earlier this season, but it didn’t have local assistance to put up and remove the display each day. [9]


Jex Blackmore, director of the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Ministry said that she was bothered by the senators’ criticism.  “If our Legislature finds it morally incomprehensible to respect the diversity of differences among Michigan citizens, then perhaps they are much better served as members of the clergy rather than representatives of the people.” [4] The Satanic Temple display organizer Tuesday welcomed the nativity scene. “In fact, our display works much better in dialogue with representations of other faiths,” said Jex Blackmore, director of the Satanic Temple’s Detroit chapter. “We believe that a diversity of beliefs should be represented so long as religious iconography is permitted on state property.” [4] She added a statement: “Where there is obstinate refusal to keep religious iconography off of public spaces, the least we can do is ensure that the Government is remaining neutral, respecting a diversity of religious views, with preference for, and exclusion of, none.” [9]


Dan Brocklehurst, Capitol facilities director

 While the situation has brought a burst of attention to Michigan’s Capitol staff, it has also created a unique circumstance for Dan Brocklehurst, Capitol facilities director, who says he’s “very committed” to his Christian faith.  On Sunday, Brocklehurst will visit the state Capitol to review the Satanic Temple display — before continuing on to attend worship services at his church. [5]  Next to the displays, Capitol staff will erect signs reminding visitors that “this exhibit is not owned, maintained, promoted, supported by or associated with” the state of Michigan, Brocklehurst says. Both of the exhibits will also be placed where security cameras will let Capitol staff keep an eye on them. [5] “We want to be sure they’re both secure and not subject to vandalism while they’re on Capitol grounds,” says Brocklehurst, who acknowledges that the dueling displays have put Michigan officials “in new territory.” [5]


Margaret Downey, founder of the Philadelphia-based Freethought Society

Margaret Downey, founder of the Philadelphia-based Freethought Society, has been working since 2007 to erect a non-theist holiday Tree of Knowledge at the West Chester Courthouse.  She applauded the Michigan commission’s decision. “If these people are sincere, then they as citizens deserve to exercise their freedom of expression, whether it’s a Wicca sculpture, a giant Buddha or a Festivus pole,” Downey said. Though West Chester has refused her permission to display the Tree of Knowledge, the symbol is slowly catching on, she said. Similar trees – evergreens festooned with books by Carl Sagan and the like – are on display in Las Vegas, Rhode Island and in Rittenhouse Square at the Ethical Society. “People are gearing up to use this symbol in 2015 as a national winter holiday non-theist symbol,” she said. “It got an endorsement from the United Coalition of Reason.” [10]

Fox 2 News Headlines

[2] Satanic Temple holiday display coming to Capitol lawn, My Fox Detroit, Dec 15, 2014 10:37 PM
[3] Jane Park, Satanic group to bring holiday display to Lansing, WXYZ Detroit, 11:10 PM, Dec 15, 2014
[4] Gary Heinlein, Nativity scene to counter Satanic display at Capitol, The Detroit News, 11:33 p.m. EST December 16, 2014
[5] Bill Chappell, Satanist And Christian Holiday Displays To Go Up At Michigan Capitol, NPR,  December 17, 2014 7:16 PM ET
[8] Justin A. Hinkley, How Satanists saved the Christmas spirit in Lansing, Detroit Free Press, 5:18 p.m. EST December 17, 2014
[10] Sam Wood, Satanists to build holiday display at Mich. state capitol, Philly.com, Monday, December 15, 2014, 2:40 PM
[11] Ann Pierret, Satanist holiday display coming to Michigan Capitol, 11 Alive, 1:24 p.m. EST December 16, 2014
[12] Mark Joseph Stern, Devil’s Advocates, Slate, 2014/11
[13] Marilisa Sachteleben, Michigan allows Christian nativity and Satanic Christmas display at capitol, Examiner, December 17, 2014

About Bill Wallace

Bill Wallace is a self-fashioned writter, a computer programmer and cybermarketer from Quebec City, Canada who decided to enter the political arena after his disillusionment with the socialist system under which he was living in the French Canadian province of Quebec.

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