In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled the government-owned Bladensburg Peace Cross does not violate rules intended to separate church and state. According to Justice Samuel Alito, writing the majority decision, the Bladensburg Cross had become de-christianized and had come to represent veterans of all faiths.
Under that rationale, the Bladensburg Cross was a symbol of mere human loss in World War I, and not one of the central props of the Christian religious tradition, which holds their triune god lived on earth as a man named Jesus Christ roughly 2,000 years ago and whose subsequent execution upon a cross by ancient Roman authorities atoned for human sin.
Taking that rationale and running with it, the national Satanic Temple church announced last week they will adopt the cross as a monument to Satan and Satanic veterans. The religious group now plans to hold an annual Satanic festival at the site. They will refer to the cross as the Bladensburg Satanic Monument.
“Deciding that the Bladensburg Cross does not just represent Christians, but people of all faiths including Satanists, is a kind of blasphemy that is consistent with Satanism,” said Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves. “As a symbol for all veterans, the Cross represents Satanist veterans who we are honoring.”
From the outside, the seven-year-old Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Massachusetts, is best understood as a nontheistic religious organization that uses Satanic imagery to engage in debates over religious liberty and civil rights.
The group has a list of seven central tenets, and encourages its members to be empathetic and benevolent. Despite its relatively young age, the group has a long-list of sometimes-provocative protests designed to highlight efforts they believe blurs the line between church-state separation. For instance, in 2020 the group crafted a Satanic abortion ritual they hope could be used to bypass abortion regulations on religious liberty grounds. The group has also helped members to organize prayer at the U.S. Naval Academy, and appointed lay leaders to establish a religious ministry in the US.. military, and built a veterans memorial that was intended to be erected in Minnesota.