'Swaddling babe' Baphomet displayed at Illinois Capitol; Satanic Temple calls out Bishop

The group has called out Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki twice over his opposition to the statue.

Updated: December 23, 2021 - 8:35pm

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A baby Baphomet satanic statue sits next to a Christmas tree, a Nativity scene and a menorah in the Illinois Capitol Rotunda as the Satanic Temple's latest addition to annual holiday displays.

The statue is in celebration of Sol Invictus, which coincides with Christmas, the Satanic Temple explained in a statement. For three years, the Satanic Temple has displayed different statues in the Illinois Capitol, such as a serpent wrapped around a woman's arm as she holds an apple.

The Satanic Temple's 2021 addition "depicts the Satanic deity Baphomet as a swaddling babe," the group wrote.

The display has met significant resistance. Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Springfield Diocese condemned the satanic statue in November. According to The State Journal-Register, he defended the right to a nativity display and acknowledged the First Amendment right to freely exercise religion, but said Satanic worship "is not a religion."

"True religion binds people to God and to each other in faith. The devil seeks to divide, not to unite, and the only thing that Satan worship binds its adherents to is the evil one," he stated, contending that satanic displays "should have no place in this Capitol or any other place."

The Satanic Temple on Dec. 17 responded to Paprocki, addressing him as "Your Excellency" in an invite to the installation of the temple's display the following Monday.

"This year's tradition marks a greater urgency in the Baphomet's message of harmony and reconciliation," the group's Director of Campaign Operations Erin Helian stated. "This year's display celebrates unity. In keeping with that spirit, we have invited Bishop Paprocki to hold hands with members of The Satanic Temple while we come together and stand before all of the religious displays at the rotunda."

Protesters from the conservative Catholic group "American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property" came to the Capitol Monday to speak against the display. They held banners stating, "Satan has no rights" and "Mary crushes the serpent," according to WICS.

Paprocki did not attend the ceremony. 

In front of the displays, a sign states: "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. Because the first floor of the Capitol rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays.

"The United States Supreme Court has held that public officials may legally impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions regarding displays and speech, but no regulation can be based on the content of the speech."

Satanic Temple posted on Twitter Thursday, further mocking Paprocki. "Happy Holidays to Everyone! May the spirit of Satan fill you with compassion, empathy, and reason," the group wrote, tagging the bishop's Twitter page and including a GIF of Satan hugging him.