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A group of satanists will go ahead with plans to erect a statue dedicated to the devil outside the Oklahoma statehouse, despite the building permit being suspended in a row over religious freedom.
New York-based Satanic Temple members said they would press on with plans for their 7ft bronze and stone sculpture of Baphomet (Satan in his Goat-headed representation) outside the Oklahoma State Capitol building.
Permits for all new monuments have been suspended by the state authorities following a legal squabble over the display of religious artworks on government property but Satanic Temple is undeterred.
The New York sculptor's monument depicts Baphomet sitting beneath a pentagram with two children - a boy and a girl - who stand at its sides, gazing up in admiration.
The sculpture was commissioned to counter a monument of the Ten Commandments that was installed outside the Oklahoma Capitol building in 2012.
"They said they wanted to be open to different monuments and this seems like a perfect place to put that to the test," Lucien Greaves, a Temple spokesman said.
The Ten Commandments sculpture was donated to the Oklahoma government by politician Mike Rietz, a Southern Baptist deacon, who paid for it with his own money.
The Temple argued that the US Constitution banned states from endorsing a particular religion. Satanists should have equal rights, members insisted.
"Not only would a Satanic monument send a clear and distinct message that America respects plurality, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, but it would also stand as a historical marker, commemorating scapegoats, the marginalised and the demonised minority, the unjustly outcast," Greaves told the local Kfor news channel.
The Temple filed a formal application for the Baphomet's monument with Oklahoma authorities and launched an online campaign to fund the project. It went viral and raised almost $30,000 (£17,500).
A first photo of the unfinished seven-feet-tall artwork was released by the group in April. New pictures have been published in Vice.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) backed the Satanists and filed a lawsuit demanding that the Ten Commandments monument be removed.
"When the government literally puts one faith on a pedestal, it sends a strong message to Oklahomans of other faiths that they are less than equal," Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma's executive director, said.
The lawsuit resulted in the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission halting the issuing of all permits for new monuments pending a decision on the case.
The Temple claimed the suspension should not apply to their Baphomet, as the application was submitted before the lawsuit.
"After all the Ten Commandments still stand at the State Capitol," Greaves told Vice.
"We are fully willing to place our monument at the Capitol, even while the ACLU suit is fought, with the understanding that a judgment against the Ten Commandments will have ramifications for our monument as well, likely resulting in the removal of both."
Greaves said that if the statue were removed they will look for an alternative location.
"There is no shortage of public locations across the US where religious monuments await a contrasting voice," he said.