City leaders in Belle Plaine, Minnesota have granted The Satanic Temple permission to erect a memorial to soldiers killed in action beside a Christian memorial at Veterans Memorial Park.
After city residents protested against the removal, however, officials decided to designate an area in the park as a "free speech zone," allowing other religions and organizations to erect their own temporary memorials.
Thus, The Satanic Temple headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, announced it, too, plans to put up a memorial --and will place it right beside the Christian memorial.
"That's the unintended consequence of a small-town saga over free speech, and it all began when someone complained about having a religious symbol on public property," notes the Tribune.
Andy Parrish, who led the charge to restore the cross, said the move wasn't particularly surprising: "It's more annoying than it is offensive," he said.
The memorial is described as a "black cube, inscribed with inverted pentagrams and crowned by an upturned helmet."
Artist Chris P. Andres explained back in February that the memorial represents, in part, "humanistic perfection through curiosity and reason."
"The four pentagrams recall the four corners of the Earth - they serve as a reminder to the viewer of the satanic/pagan symbols/ideas sacred to soldiers that sacrificed. The black is a cold memory in mourning and a field of mystery and imagination. The gold is a Luciferian light reflecting light onto the view like a sacred icon," Andres said.
"The empty helmet is now a Baphometic bowl of wisdom, a void, a protective vessel of the mind and intellect. Memories of the fallen can be psychically deposited, physical notes, names, fruit offering can be left in the monument. This monument produces an interaction. It resembles a ritualistic sacrament as if it's to be used for something," he added.
As reported, the atheist organization Freedom From Religion Foundation - a group well known for its staunch opposition to Christianity - demanded Belle Plaine remove the Christian memorial in January. At the time, FFRF reportedly sent a letter to the town's mayor, Walter Williams, alerting him that a "concerned community member" contacted them to report the city's new Veterans Memorial Garden included a Christian flag alongside the new American flag and a military flag.
In the letter, FFRF said the cross violated the separation of church and state and threatening to slap the town with a $500,000 lawsuit if it didn't comply with the group's demands.
"I never dreamed that something like this would have happened in a town this small, but it happened," Williams told WREG at the time. "We're gonna' fly that flag again, and I'm hoping it's not going to be long" before it happens.
After workers took the cross down, many supporters of vets responded by setting up their own crosses and rallied at the park, waving Christian flags. Following an outcry, City Council members decided to adopt a method of considering each proposed display, giving priority to veterans groups, the StarTribune reported.
The newly approved plan "ensures that there is no endorsement of religion by the city whatsoever because the memorials that will be put up represent the citizens that put them up," Doug Wardlow, who represented the Alliance Defending Freedom, responded.
"It sets it up so we can have something to memorialize our fallen but it also gives others a chance to memorialize theirs as well," Katie Novotny, a supporter of the cross who lived in Belle Plaine, told the news station. "It doesn't matter if you're Jewish, if you're Muslim, we're all Americans fighting this war together."