The devil has been trying to destroy Christmas for 2,000 years, evangelist Franklin Graham said, responding to the installation of a goat-like satanic deity to mock a traditional Christian Nativity display inside a government building in Illinois just before the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Satanic Temple of Illinois displayed a sculpture of an infant version of Baphomet in the state Capitol rotunda in Springfield Tuesday, which can be seen as “just another very sad attempt” by the devil to destroy Christmas, Graham told Fox News on Thursday.
“King Herod sent his troops to Bethlehem to hunt for the baby Jesus to kill Him, and so the devil has been trying to destroy Christmas ever since,” he said. “And this is just another very sad attempt.”
Claiming the statue is about diversity, a representative of the Satanic Temple of Illinois named Adam said, “The Capitol welcomes a diverse range of religions every year to display holiday statues during the holiday season, so we wanted to join in on that,” ABC 7 reported.
But members of the Satanic temple shouted, “Hail, Satan!” as reported by the State Journal-Register of Springfield. Next to the Satanic display, the state of Illinois put up a sign citing First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of worship, as granted under the U.S. Constitution, WICS reported.
The Baphomet figure was the work of Chris Andres, a horror artist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is intended to mark the “satanic holiday” called Sol Invictus, according to the New York Post.
Christmas, Graham stressed, is about God’s love. “It’s not about the Satanic Temple. It’s about God so loving this world that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to this Earth to take our sins. Jesus died for our sins. He was buried, He rose again and He’s alive.”
Graham continued, “If we are willing to repent, turn away from those sins, and put our faith and trust on Him, God will forgive our sins and He’ll heal our hearts and invite us to be with Him for eternity.”
This is what Christmas is all about, he explained.
It’s the third year the Satanic Temple has displayed a Satanic image at the Illinois state Capitol building.
“TST invites you to our Sol Invictus tradition of displaying Baby Baphomet at the Capitol building in Springfield, IL,” the temple wrote on Facebook. “Help us spread the message of harmony, reconciliation, and unity. Hopefully, Bishop Paprocki will join us and hold hands to spread the message of unity to the Springfield community.”
A group of Republican state lawmakers, including Reps. Brad Halbrook, Dan Caulkins, Blaine Wilhour, Adam Niemerg and Chris Miller called statue “deliberately offensive.”
“Just because the Satanic Temple can do something does not mean they should. They are not accomplishing anything but offending people at one of the holiest times of the year,” the lawmakers said in a statement, WSILTV reported.