Detroit became a flashpoint over the role of religion in a secular government this weekend, as Satanists unveiled a monument to Baphomet, the Independent reports. Christians protested the display, depicting a human body with a goat's head, wings, accompanied by statues of an adoring girl and boy.
Some reportedly went so far as to threaten to blow up the warehouse hosting Saturday's ceremony.
The nearly nine-foot-tall bronze statue, said to have cost $100,000 and weighing a ton, was originally planned as a form of protest, according to the Associated Press, after Oklahoma officials allowed a monument to the Ten Commandments to be erected on the grounds of the capitol. Other religious groups, from Hindus to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, had also applied for permission to install their own statues, reportedly claiming that the state monument promoted the Christian and Jewish faiths above others.
But as Time reported, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court ruled in June the Ten Commandments monument must be removed for violating the separation of church and state.
The Satanists currently plan to move the statue to Arkansas, where Governor Asa Hutchison authorized the erection of a privately-funded Ten Commandments statue on state property. Hutchison made headlines in April when he declared he saw "no urgent need for" LGBT civil rights protections after a revised "religious freedom law" was enacted.
Christian churches organized to protest the statue's unveiling in Detroit, with Raw Story reporting some opponents made terrorist threats against the ceremony in an email, including "Let’s burn the statue down!" and "I bet it would blow up real good." The location of the monument was kept secret until shortly before the event started, as organizers cited security concerns. Attendees, promised "the largest public satanic ceremony in history," were notified of the location via email.
The ceremony had to be moved when the owner of one commercial property canceled, after vehement Christian opposition. That owner refunded the Satanists $3,000 reservation fee, saying he didn't realize what the group would be doing. A few dozen protesters still gathered outside that business in protest the night of the ceremony; the actual unveiling happened in an industrial building near the Detroit River.
A tweet showed a long line outside the venue, where organizers claimed hundreds of people were in attendance; Time estmated the crowd at 700.
— Matthew Pearson (@MattPearsonCM) July 26, 2015
Pastor David Bullock of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church organized Saturday’s prayer protest and told the assembled group, "We’re fighting for the soul of America. We’re fighting for the soul of the City of Detroit. The last thing we should do in Detroit is have a welcome party for the Devil."
Bishop Corletta Vaughn of the Holy Ghost Cathedral told the Detroit Free Press, "I’m here to stand against this being in the City of Detroit. We will not turn over our city to Satanists. It’s a violent spirit that’s moving to the city and infiltrating that place. We will drive them out of Dodge."
Organizers of the ceremony promised attendees a “night of chaos, noise, and debauchery… a hedonistic celebration." The event started shortly before midnight, and members of the crowd posed for pictures alongside the statue.
— DJ Meph (@djmeph) July 26, 2015