Steven Waldman, author of Founding Faith: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious Liberty, told me, “This (satanic statue) is the inevitable outcome of what religious conservatives set in motion” with their efforts to bring more religion into the public square.
He added, “As James Madison said, even government efforts to help religion will backfire and hurt religion.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing in the Oklahoma state courts to have the Ten Commandments statue removed, makes a similar argument.
Brady Henderson of the Oklahoma ACLU points to Florida as a cautionary tale. The placement of a nativity scene on the state Capitol grounds led to a free-for-all. He told me, “To get around the First Amendment problems, they had to let other groups in. So, next to the crèche was a Festivus pole and Flying Spaghetti Monster. We don’t want our state to become (like that). Here is something with thousands of years of tradition next to a joke from Seinfeld, and the government is presenting them as equals. That cheapens a lot of people’s faith. The only one who is happy is the one who wants to make a mockery of religion.”