By Barb Arland-Fye
An illustration of a horned, winged creature seated on a pentagram-decorated throne, two adoring children on each side, accompanied an article on the religion page of my local paper.
The Associated Press story (Jan. 11, 2014, Quad-City Times) explained that a satanic group plans to build a 7-foot-tall monument to Satan and hopes to erect it at the Oklahoma State Capitol. That’s the same location where a Ten Commandments statue was placed in 2012.
It seems the Satanists take offense at the “hypocrisy” of state leadership in Oklahoma for allowing a symbol of Christianity to take up residence in the state capitol. But in my opinion, the Satanists demonstrate the epitome of hypocrisy in claiming that “Satan stands as the ultimate icon for the selfless revolt against tyranny, free & rational inquiry, and the responsible pursuit of happiness,” as quoted in the Associated Press story.
Since when does Satan stand as the ultimate icon for anything selfless?
“Satan” comes from the Hebrew word for “opponent” and initially was viewed as “an adversary who plots against someone … and later as the devil or supremely evil leader of the fallen angels who seeks to disrupt God’s plan of salvation for humanity” (“A Concise Dictionary of Theology,” p. 235).
Our Church teaches that Satan (also called the devil) was a good angel who became evil by Satan’s own doing. “The devil ‘has sinned from the beginning;’ he is ‘a liar and the father of lies’” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 391, 392).
Allusions and direct references to Satan abound in the Bible, and underscore Satan’s selfishness. Satan seeks only worship of himself when he tempts Jesus in the desert. Jesus, demonstrating true selflessness in resisting the devil’s temptation for the sake of the kingdom, orders: “Get away, Satan!” (Matt. 4:1-10)
Pope Francis cautions in his homilies and meditations that Satan/the devil exists in the world and that we must thwart the efforts of the evil one through our actions as Christians.
“Selfishness leads nowhere and love frees,” the Holy Father said in a May 14 meditation in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae. “Therefore, those who are able to live their lives as ‘a gift to give others’ will never be alone and will never experience ‘the drama of the isolated conscience.’ They are easy prey to ‘Satan the debtor’ who is ever ‘ready to swindle’ those who choose his path” (L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, no. 21, 22 May 2013)
Evil can appear in the subtlest of forms — in a secular newspaper featuring a drawing of Satan as a benevolent creature loved by sweet, young children.
“In my entire life, I’ve never heard of Satan as a benevolent person,” my husband Steve said after reading the newspaper feature story. “Show me one example of Satan being a peaceful person; he’s always been linked to mayhem.”
Throughout history, humans in positions of power — Christians and non-Christians alike — have isolated their consciences to justify persecution and even destruction of individuals and ethnic and religious groups. The author of that mayhem is Satan, the opposite of love, which is God.
Supporters have raised nearly one-half of the $20,000 price tag for the Satan statue, which is being designed so that visitors can sit in Satan’s lap if they choose to do so, the Associated Press story reports.
I will pray that the Satanists have a change of heart and donate whatever money they raise to pay for food, shelter, clothing or other necessities for people in need.