The Story Behind the Satanic Statue

December 6, 2018 · Print This Article

It was not your usual seasonal statue, but in a government building in the state of Illinois, between a menorah and Christmas tree, there has appeared a four-foot forearm with a snake coiled around it holding an apple.

Where could this have come from? It has been sponsored by a satanic group who have been given permission because they have the right under the First Amendment to express their thoughts and feelings. But what does the statue mean?

If you haven’t heard of the Chicago chapter of the Temple of Satan, they use satanic imagery to promote the separation of church and state. But you may have heard of the name Satan; it has a lot to do with the imagery of the statue.

In the three major religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism, Satan (Shaitan in the Koran) is known as an evil adversary of humans, leading us into temptation and away from God. But what has this arm and snake got to do with Satan? In the biblical book of Genesis (the first book of the Jewish and Christian Bible) we find the story behind the statue. When the first humans (Adam and Eve) were created, we have a serpent turn up tempting the woman to eat the fruit of a tree God had asked them not to eat from (…after all, it would lead them on a very lonely road without the help of God’s wisdom). And as the statue suggests, yep, you guessed it, they ate the fruit! But the story did not end there.

It is slightly ironic that this season for the western world recognises the coming of Jesus into the world. In fact, he had something to say about Satan. Talking of Satan’s past, Jesus said that “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”[1]

I don’t know if you are religious, but maybe the only time you have thought of a ‘devil’ figure is when you have seen a red-horned imp-like creature. In my opinion, I think there may be more to this figure. If you read the Christian narrative (and the Muslim) you will read that Satan was once a good super angel, who had turned bad and against God. He pops up from time-to-time in the story of humanity causing temptation and trauma for individuals and the world as large.

This means Satan has agency: he effects the world around us. When I look at the evil in the world, it seems to me more believable to ascribe some of this evil we see to a figure, like Satan, that has some invisible influence in the hearts and minds of mankind. Certainly, in Jewish and Muslim thought, the figure of Satan gets in the way of us following a path of good. But there is hope for all of us…

One of the stories found in the Gospels is about Jesus being tempted by Satan. It’s a fascinating read (Matthew 4). Unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus manages to resist the temptations of Satan. Jesus comes out the victor. What that means is humanity has someone to go to to help when we find it hard to do the right thing. It is said of those who have turned to Jesus that “the one who is in you [Jesus] is greater than the one who is in the world [Satan].”[2]


[1] The Bible, Luke 10:18 (NIV)

[2] The Bible, 1 John 4:4 (NIV)

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