Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Lucien Greaves (a.k.a. Douglas Mesner) on Thursday and focused on a monument in honor of veterans that Satanists had scheduled to place at a public park in Belle Plaine, Minnesota. When the local city council decided to respond to concerns over Christian memorials at the park, it decided to allow a “free speech zone” open to everyone. Greaves sought to frame the Satanists’ efforts in light of reason and Constitutionally-guaranteed free speech, while defending the Satanic monument.
A group of Satanists produced a monument that consisted of a dark stone block surmounted by a helmet, familiar to generations of service personnel, that could also serve as an offering bowl. Each of four sides of the cube were adorened with a Satanic pentagram. After months of acrimonious public debate, the city council decided on Monday to eliminate the free speech zone at Veterans Memorial Park, thereby blocking the proposed monument to Satanism, thus forcing the removal of other religious displays.
In a statement, the Belle Plaine City council declared, “The original intent of providing the public space was to recognize those who have bravely contributed to defending our nation through their military service.” The statement added, “In recent weeks and months, though, that intent has been overshadowed by freedom of speech concerns expressed by both religious and nonreligious communities.”
Beginning in January, the city demanded the removal of a Christian-themed statue that featured a praying soldier and cross to be removed from the city-owned park for fear of incurring a lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. When citizens objected, the council passed a resolution designating a free speech zone at the park. It was then that the Satanic Temple of Salem, Massachusetts, applied to erect its monument to Satan in the park.
On Monday, the council rescinding the free speech zone, thus blocking the Satanic monument. “The debate between those communities has drawn significant regional and national attention to our city, and has promoted divisiveness among our own residents,” the city’s statement said. “While this debate has a place in public dialogue, it has detracted from our city’s original intent of designating a space solely for the purpose of honoring and memorializing military veterans, and has also portrayed our city in a negative light.”
The owners of privately owned displays in the park now have 10 days to remove them from the property.
After hearing Greaves say that Satanism represents “Enlightenment” values and "emblematic of the history of rebellion against tyranny," Carlson said “There’s no comparison between Satanism, which is a silly made-up religion and has no God -- non-theistic, as you’ve conceded -- and Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, which you may believe or disbelieve, agree or not, but they’re millennia-old, they run hospitals, churches, schools. They form the basis of our civil society. They don’t really compare to what you’re doing. Do they?”
Greaves said “We’re getting there,” while claiming that the number of Satanists is growing and that they defend pluralism and free speech. While Carlson said he defends free speech and would defend Greave’s right to free speech, he said that he does not “want to fall for the traps of taking seriously something that is not a serious thing. Do you know what I mean?” can’t seriously something that is not serious.”
Rebutting Carlson, Greaves said “I could understand what you are saying if we were not serious. But we are serious,” and went on to claim that Satanists and their chapters are growing throughout the country. As for the intentions of the Satanic Temple and its devotees, Carlson engaged Greaves further:
CARLSON: … the point of calling this “Satanism” is to horrify, like, normal people in the middle of the country. That is exactly the point…
GREAVES: That is not true. No, no, that is not the point…
CARLSON: So what is the point? I’ll give you 30 seconds. What’s the point of Satanism?
GREAVES: Well, to sum up a religious movement and its history in 30 seconds isn’t quite fair… but I would say that Satanism embodies Enlightenment values. It is emblematic of the ultimate rebellion against tyranny. To that end, we look at the history of the crushing of the Church, and the rise of Enlightenment values, and the rise of pluralism and diversity and multiculturalism as inherently Satanic.
CARLSON: Yeah… I think what you’re doing is you’re taking a Christian symbol — Satan — and you’re using it against Christians. I mean, that’s kind of the point. Because you could’ve chosen anything to name this group, since it’s basically new, and you didn’t. You chose the one thing that Christians hate the most. So, again, it’s by nature…
GREAVES: Because Satanism means something to us. It’s not an arbitrary label.
CARLSON: Right. I wish you were more straightforward about it.
GREAVES: I think you could really get into it!
CARLSON: Yeah… probably not.
In a blog entry at Patheos, Hemant Mehta “The Friendly Atheist”, offered a comment Greaves provided about the exchange with Carlson:
Greaves noted what he called a “cognitive dissonance” within the conservative right “that threatens to divide them.” He said is a “delusion” for them to adhere to “constitutional purism while also trying to accommodate the aspirations of their Theocratic Nationalist support.” The Satanic Temple and like-minded groups, Greaves said, can easily demolish conservatives by “simple assertions of constitutionally protected equality.”
While ridiculing Carlson, Greaves’ remarks concluded with: “As the Theocratic Right overplays its hand for exclusive privilege in the Public Square, the now visible cracks while broaden into a wide rift. May they be swallowed by it.” Mehta’s article concluded with “Hail Satan, everyone.”