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Satanic Temple, upset it paid for unused statue, sues Belle Plaine

The organization indicated last fall that it would sue the city.

The Satanic Temple will not give up its fight with the Minnesota city of Belle Plaine.

The non-theistic group – which, as of a few days ago, is considered a religious organization by the IRS – is suing Belle Plaine, the Star Tribune reports, because of a satanic monument it created for a now-canceled free speech zone meant to honor veterans.

This goes all the way back to 2017, when a statue showing a soldier kneeling next to the Latin cross was placed near the city's veterans monument at Veterans Memorial Park.

This prompted a lawsuit from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which argued the statue – placed on public property – was the city showing preference to one religion over others.

In response, the city decided to create a “free speech zone” at the park where any religious imagery could be displayed.

That's when the Satanic Temple jumped in to the fray. The organization proposed a black, cubic statue to go in the "free speech" space, along with the statue featuring a Latin cross. The city gave the organization a permit, saying go ahead.

A rendering of the Satanic Temple's proposed statue.

A rendering of the Satanic Temple's proposed statue.

It would have been the first ever Satanic monument on public land.

But after months and months of debate, Belle Plaine opted to pull the plug on the whole thing. No free speech zone, no Satanic Temple statue, no Latin cross statue.

That'd what led to the lawsuit, which the Star Tribune reports was recently filed. The suit argues the city of Belle Plaine broke a contract by canceling the free speech zone, left the Satanic Temple with a pricey statue it now couldn't use, and violated its First Amendment rights.

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The organization indicated it intended to file a lawsuit last fall, the Belle Plaine Herald reported.  An attorney for the Satanic Temple asked the city for $35,000 in damages in order to cover the cost of creating the statue. (Which they'd raised part of via IndeiGoGo.)

The city declined, arguing in part it paid the temple back the $100 application fee, which the organization cashed – signaling an acceptance of what happened.

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