Officials in Illinois have placed a Satanic Temple display alongside the Christian nativity scene and a Jewish menorah inside the State Capitol building.
The Satanic “Serpent of Genesis” has been made part of the state’s display of several religious exhibits for the holiday season.
According to local radio media, the Satanic Temple’s display consists of a leather-bound copy of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’ “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium” — which translates to “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres” — at the center of the display.
The book is adorned with handcrafted knitted apples and a 12-foot serpent.
The controversial imagery marks the fourth year in a row the state’s Capitol rotunda in Springfield, Illinois, has proudly showcased displays from the Illinois Satanic Temple.
Minister Adam told The Daily Caller that their display was handcrafted by congregation members and it represents the pursuit of forbidden knowledge.
He added that it revolves around one of the “most controversial books of its time,” noting that the book favors a heliocentric model of the universe, which theorizes that the Sun rather than the Earth lies in the center of the universe — not vice-versa.
The Index of Forbidden Books banned the text for 200 years, but officials from the Satanic Temple told Patch they believe it still provides a valuable lesson.
But the handmade elements that surround the book, and that were created by Illinois congregation members, carry a similar meaning, officials said.
In 2018, local media reported one state lawmaker denounced the Satanic Temple, demanding the removal of the satanic statue.
However, a sign from the state of Illinois in the rotunda 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 State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public display in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars,” the sign reads, according to ABC News.
Henry Haupt, a spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State, told Patch that organizations looking to use space in the Capitol rotunda during special events must submit a form to the Secretary of State Physical Services Department.
The temporary display not paid for by tax dollars must also meet certain public safety requirements established by the secretary of state.
“Temporary displays of this nature, erected in a public space in the Capitol rotunda, are protected by the First Amendment,” Haupt said in an email to Patch.
“The U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech, which remains a hallmark and cherished principle of this country.”
Adam, with Satanic Temple, said the display was “not in opposition with other religions, but in a show of equality and shared space with other religious viewpoints,” according to the Daily Caller.
Speaking with local media, Adam responded to those offended by the display: “Ok.”
“Being offended is something that is more than welcomed for them to be able to do — that is their right,” Adam said.
“But we have every right to be here, and we’re not going to sanitize that message because someone else is offended by that.”
Beth Rogers, representing the Illinois Prayer Caucus, told Illinois Radio Network during the dedication of the Christian Nativity scene showcasing the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger that the “little baby in the manger later crushed Satan the serpent’s head, and the gates of hell will not prevail.”
Displays in the state Capitol rotunda will remain through January 5.