Arizona bill would ban Satanic displays on public property
The GOP-backed bill selectively prevents one group from accessing public spaces
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Republicans in Arizona have introduced a bill that would ban Satanic displays in public spaces. It comes months after a Satanic display in the Iowa Capitol sent conservatives reeling, leading one man to vandalize it. (Just last week, he was charged with a hate crime.)
Titled the “Reject Escalating Satanism by Preserving Essential Core Traditions (RESPECT) Act,” SB 1279 would alter the law by adding the following line to three different parts of the state statute:
SATANIC MEMORIALS, STATUES, ALTARS OR DISPLAYS OR ANY OTHER METHOD OF REPRESENTING OR HONORING SATAN MAY NOT BE DISPLAYED ON PUBLIC PROPERTY IN THIS STATE.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Jake Hoffman, a first-term senator and former member of the State House most (in)famous for being one of Arizona’s fake electors back in 2020.
He’s joined by a dozen fellow Republican co-sponsors who don’t understand that the Establishment Clause doesn’t allow them to exclude one particular religious icon just because they disagree with whatever they think it represents.
Because if there’s one thing we know about Satanic monuments, it’s that groups like The Satanic Temple only request that they go up when there’s a Christian monument already in place. In Arkansas, for example, there’s an ongoing lawsuit involving Satanists who sued after state officials rejected their statue of Baphomet despite allowing a Ten Commandments on Capitol grounds.
By singling out one religious group’s monuments for exclusion—presumably when displays from other faiths would be allowed—this bill would almost certainly trigger a lawsuit if passed.
Even the title is a farce. What’s the danger of “escalating Satanism”? Too much compassion and empathy? What “essential core traditions” are Arizona Republicans trying to preserve? Apparently they involve religious supremacy.
Bills like this, though, aren’t introduced because there’s any chance of them passing. They’re introduced to placate conservative Christians who fantasize about living in a theocracy. They’re a reminder that Christians like Hoffman believe they’re superior to people who don’t share their faith, and they intend to use the government to codify that belief into law—or at least send that message.
The Satanic Temple’s co-founder Lucien Greaves shared a similar view in an email. saying he found the bill “frightening” for what it symbolized more than what it would actually do:
The bill is frightening. Not because I worry that it will pass and will reduce us to a lower tier of citizenship, but because it has no hope of passing, and is so flagrantly unconstitutional that it demonstrates the most horrific incompetence of its every signatory from the Arizona senate.
These are public representatives who not only disrespect the oath of office they swore to uphold, but apparently have no clear understanding of what the purpose of their office is, or what legal principles underpin their authority to begin with.
For an actual senator to write and/or sign such a hopelessly illegal, petty and futile bill is to announce utter and complete ignorance as to the function of their office, and total disregard for the services they are expected to perform as public representatives.
Presenting such a bill, as a Senator, should be a sanctionable offense, as it impossible to imagine that any signatory to a document so embarrassingly juvenile and counter-Constitutional could ever truly be effective at anything.
SB 1279 will be formally discussed during a hearing of the Committee on Government on Wednesday morning. That committee happens to include Sen. Juan Mendez, a Democrat who’s openly atheist. So there will be at least one voice of reason in the mix.