LANSING, Mich. – Christians and Satanists put up competing displays Sunday on the Michigan Capitol grounds as Christmas week got underway.
The Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple set up its "Snaketivity Scene" featuring a snake offering a book called "Revolt of the Angels" as a gift. The snake is wrapped around the Satanic cross on the 3-feet-by-3-feet display. Capitol rules require that displays have to be taken down each night.
In a videotaped interview with the Lansing State Journal, Satanic Temple spokeswoman Jex Blackmore said her group doesn't worship Satan but does promote individuality, compassion and views that differ from Christian and conservative beliefs.
Blackmore said that the "holiday season is a time of year that is celebrated in many different ways."
"Having our government endorse one singular viewpoint or method of celebrating the season is problematic when we have a diverse community of people in Michigan," she said.
Word of the Satanic Temple's plans led state Sen. Rick Jones, a Grand Ledge Republican, to erect a Nativity scene on Friday featuring baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary. He put it back up Sunday morning.
Jones said he was happy to "represent the light and not the darkness."
"They could have put theirs up in July or April or sometime. They didn't need to put it up in the Christmas season," Jones said. "That's OK. We're going to ignore them. I'm not afraid of the snake people. I'm sure that Jesus Christ is not afraid."
Blackmore told MLive.com her group is "really pleased to be part of what is perhaps a new holiday tradition at the Capitol."
Martin Diller, a 28-year-old who served two tours in Iraq with the Michigan National Guard and one in Afghanistan, visited the Capitol grounds after attending Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in East Lansing. He said he wanted to see how the constitutional rights issue played itself out.
"A few of my friends in the military, we like to see the First Amendment in use," Diller said. "We all went overseas, we fought for it, it's kind of interesting to see it in action."