Black Mass For A Red State

If you don’t have anything to do this September 21st, perhaps you can go to Oklahoma City (only 3 hours and 11 minutes from Joplin) to attend a special event:

black mass of oklahoma

As you can see, the Black Mass is being offered to curious Okies (or anyone willing to shell out 15 bucks) by Dakhma of Angra Mainyu, which “is a religious and educational church dedicated to Angra Mainyu (Ahriman).” Yeah, I know what you mean. I had never heard of the group or Angra Mainyu. I’ve since learned a little and guess what? Just like all things having to do with invisible or otherwise out-of-reach beings, it is complicated. For shorthand, just think of Satan or the Devil or, since we are talking about Oklahoma, Beelzebubba.

In any case, having an anti-sacramental Black Mass in Oklahoma City (albeit a more tame and legal version accompanied by a local band apparently known for its “dark, turbulent music”) is, as you might expect, not going over well with Christian folks. But a spokesman for the Civic Center Music Hall told a right-wing news outlet that,

since the center is a city-owned facility, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution does not allow us to turn away productions based on their content.

The Civic Center apparently has in the past hosted church services, as well as other “religious-themed events.” So, what’s it to ya if Satan gets in on the act, even if it is a sacrilegious act?

Well, some locals are quite upset. NewsOk pubished a piece (“Catholic archbishop decries plans for satanic Black Mass in Oklahoma City“) that began:

A local group has rented space in the Oklahoma City Civic Center for a satanic Black Mass, prompting Catholic Archbishop Paul Coakley to issue a statement questioning whether that is an appropriate use of public space.

“We’re astonished and grieved that the Civic Center would promote as entertainment and sell tickets for an event that is very transparently a blasphemous mockery of the Mass,” said Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. “The ‘Black Mass’ that is scheduled for the Civic Center in September is a satanic inversion and distortion of the most sacred beliefs not only of Catholics, but of all Christians.”

Now, I find it amazing that the archbishop is worried about the “appropriate use of public space” when it comes to religion in Oklahoma, since I can’t find anything he might have uttered when a Ten Commandments monument was put up on Capitol grounds in Oklahoma City in 2012 (you may remember that the un-spell-checked monument featured, “Remember the Sabbeth day…”). I’m guessing Archbishop Coakley considered that monument appropriate use of public space, even though the ACLU didn’t and brought suit. Also, a group called Satanic Temple has built its own monument of the Devil (complete with stately goat’s head) and expects to have it sitting on the Capitol grounds real soon. Here’s what it looks like:

 A spokesman for Governor Mary Fallin said a couple of months ago:

There will never be a satanic monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol and the suggestion that there might be is absurd.

Obviously there is no good reason why that God-awful statue of the Devil shouldn’t sit on public grounds—if other, admittedly more popular, religious monuments are put there. This issue isn’t about popularity or heritage or any other excuse right-wingers have for stamping government with their religious seal of approval. It’s about, as Archbishop Coakley said, the appropriate use of public space. And it should not be appropriate to litter the devil in oklahoma citylawns around any Capitol building, in separation-of-church-and-state America, with monuments to religious belief—or unbelief.

As for that Black Mass at the Civic Center, Christians should get used to the idea that if we are going to open up our public venues for church services or other religion-inspired events—my old church held services for a while in a community college auditorium—then sometimes some folks who don’t much like Christianity might decide to go public, too.

I, for one, wish we would lock the doors to all public buildings, put “keep off the lawn” signs in all public spaces, when it comes to purely religious expressions. There are more than 320,000 churches in the United States—heck, Subway, the world’s biggest restaurant chain, only has around 26,000 stores!—and I ask: isn’t 320,000 churches (and 2100 mosques and 3700 synagogues) enough tax-exempt real estate on which to erect monuments and in which to hold religious services?

17 Comments

  1. King Beauregard

     /  July 7, 2014

    I have to say, if people knew who Ahriman was or had any basic concept of other faiths like Zoroastrianism, we’d be in a better place, as a country. These days, we’re lucky if people know enough Greek mythology to follow “Disney’s Hercules”, and I wonder what we have lost in the process. As a kid, I found it was mentally healthy (to say nothing of fascinating) to learn that, in other times and places, other people had very different perceptions of how the world hangs together; for example the Norse gods were all doomed, while the Greek gods were more threatened by an eternity of boredom. There is an endless wealth of material to read up on, if you’ve got some free time.

    If nothing else, you can astound your friends by nitpicking everything they get wrong in “Thor” comics.

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    • I’m afraid I’m one of those who has forgotten most of the little I knew about such things. I made an effort several years ago to reacquaint myself with some Greek mythology, but, alas, there was just too much stuff and too little time. I have begun to realize, now that I am almost 56, that I will never have time to read everything, see everything, or hear everything I want to or should read, see, and hear.

      I learned of Zarathustra mainly through his influence on the development of Judaism (via the Babylonian captivity and the Persian king Cyrus the Great; the Old Testament is rather fond of Cyrus) and, of course, Christianity and Islam. The idea of “Satan” as a personal devil, the idea we have of him today, comes from that Zoroastrian influence. The idea we have of angels and demons likewise. And of the “messiah” or deliver in Christianity, even though fundamentalists deny that influence (they deny any man-inspired or other-inspired influence outside of the God of the Bible).

      I agree with you that we would be in a better place if we knew how the intersection of cultures influenced (and influences) “how the world hangs together.” Problem is that the very people who need that education are usually the ones who won’t accept it. Heck, they don’t even call it education.

      Duane

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    • Now that I think about it, I first learned of Zarathustra via Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, which Elvis used to open his concerts! I was around 13 when I first heard it (my family was and still is huge Elvis fans) and looked up Zarathustra and then discovered some guy named Nietzsche. From Elvis to philosophy. Who would have thunk it?

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  2. RDG,
    The statue is a slippery slope. Oklahoma’s long-suffering devil worshipers may soon get their own cable TV show.

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    • OMG! That was hilarious. Anyone who has ever seen Paul and Jan Crouch (who met at Springfield’s Evangel College, by the way) and the Trinity Broadcasting Network completely gets the humor in that sketch. The boy in the wheelchair is priceless. And the best line of the whole thing: “Oh, Kimberley, don’t you look beautiful tonight! You are just the mother of all whores!” “Well, flattery will get you everywhere!”

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  3. a group called Satanic Temple has built its own monument of the Devil (complete with stately goat’s head) and expects to have it sitting on the Capitol grounds real soon. Here’s what it looks like:
    Duane, is this for real? Really? I can be pretty gullible so I’m not sure …. Well, to say they expect it is not to say that it will happen, but … really?

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    • King Beauregard

       /  July 8, 2014

      The thing to understand about modern Satanists is, they are closer to contrarian pranksters than devotees of evil. They use imagery that pisses Christians off precisely because it pisses them off, not because they believe the Lord Of Evil will intercede on their behalf or because they wish to serve him in the afterlife.

      All that said, they still can’t beat the Religious Right in terms of sheer horseshit.

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    • It’s for real, Helen. The only question is how it will turn out. Right now, as far as I understand it, the state has put a moratorium on approving any monuments due to the ACLU court challenge. The Satanic group used crowdsourcing to raise the money needed to fashion the monument and the last time I checked all that was left was the bronzing.

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  July 8, 2014

    Contempt prior to investigation is ……, was once noted. But I certainly would not allow a Catholic priest to tell me what to do or not to do in terms of attending any event that was legal. Had Martin Luther tried to hold a public event to explain Protestantism I am sure the Inquisition would have been in attendance as well, with a cell for him before he walked on stage.

    Let’s see, maybe a small public park complete with various statues, Christ on a Cross, Some Arab riding a white horse, slaying infidels with his sword, a smiling Buddah, a multi-headed Hindu god, a homeless man holding out a tin cup asking anyone to the help him and I am sure you could throw in a few others, like a Catholic priest with whip in hand lashing out at all the other statues!!!

    Let freedom ring!!

    Anson

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your description sounds like Athens in the Apostle Paul’s time. From his famous “Mars Hill” philosophical sermon, found in the Book of Acts, Chapter 17:

      So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.”

       

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  5. The Janus face of religiosity is xenophobia. Reason is ineffective, but maybe not humor.

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  6. Well nobody has said it so far, so I’ll make the sacrifice — the devil is in the details.

    The Christians (and I use that term loosely) should suck it up. If the Neo-Nazis can have a parade in the heavily Jewish populated Skokie, ILL., then surely a Black Mass can be held in Oklahoma City without the fundamentalists going into apoplexy.

    OK, so Skokie was actually ordered by SCOTUS to provide a parade permit and the Neo-Nazis never held the parade. These days though, if a law to block the Black Mass went up to the Court, it’s more likely that SCROTUS (Supreme Court Republicans of the United States) would side with the bible beaters.

    Herb

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    • “SCROTUS”

      Now that one’s got some legs. (It’s a good thing that the Methodists don’t have a supreme court.) 😆 😆 😆

      Liked by 1 person

      • Make that “United Methodists”.

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      • Wish I could take credit for it, but I’ve seen it used on other blogs and thought readers here might enjoy it too. I tried to come up with SCROTUM but couldn’t make it work. Anyway. SCROTUS is close enough.

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    • Sad, but so true, Herb. This current Court, with its mostly fundamentalist majority, might do exactly that. Scrotus, indeed!

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