Alongside the Christmas Nativity scene and Hanukkah menorah in the Illinois Capitol is a symbol of the satanic church: a snake coiling around an apple-holding arm. The Snaketivity reads: “Knowledge Is The Greatest Gift.” Public officials can’t censor the satanic sentiment due to free speech. The Temple is a self-proclaimed “non-theistic organization” and statues have been one way the Temple has fought what they perceive to be religious influence on public life.
- Is this an appropriate expression of free speech?
Several traditions are being celebrated in the Illinois Capitol rotunda this month. There is a Christmas birthplace, a menorah for Hanukkah, and then something else: an arm holding an apple with a snake coiled around it.
It is a gift from the Chicago branch of the Satanic Temple. The work, called “Snaketivity,” also has a sign “Knowledge is the greatest gift.”
Nearby, there is a sign that the state offers a civic lesson ‘” and explains that there was not much choice:
“The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public displays 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 speeches, but no regulation can be based on the content of the speech.”
Illinois State Secretary Speaker Dave Druker told The State Journal-Record that the temple has the same rights as religious organisations.