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Amidst protests, Belle Plaine's controversial religious statue vanishes – maybe forever

It was removed before protests over a Satanic monument.

A statue of a soldier with a rifle and a cross has put the small city of Belle Plaine on the nation's radar. But now the statue is gone – maybe forever.

A group posted to Facebook Friday that Joe – as the statue is called – had been removed from Veterans Memorial Park by its creator. The post explained that this was because of Saturday's protests over a group that wants a Satanic monument erected in the area.

However, "Joe may not return," the post noted.

Posted by Defend Veterans Park on Friday, July 14, 2017

That could bring an end to the whole ordeal about religious – and non-religious – monuments on public land.

According to the Belle Plaine Herald, the city had been planning on discussing rules for private memorials in the park on Monday. The discussion includes a proposal that would require memorials be removed.

What’s this all about?

A while ago, the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation complained about the statue as it showed preference of one religion above others and, indeed, no religion.

To compromise, the city decided to create a “free speech zone” at the park where religious imagery could be displayed. Naturally, this prompted the Satanic Temple to propose a black cube monument be placed at the park – the first ever Satanic monument on public land in the whole world.

The statue has not been given the full go-ahead from the city just yet, and while its installation is notable given it’s at the behest of a satanist movement, the group has previously said it doesn’t want to overshadow that its main purpose is honoring veterans.

The Satanic Temple’s spokesman Lucien Greaves (a pseudonym of Doug Mesner) previously said they don’t worship Satan, but rather are a non-theistic, religious group that venerates the narrative of “the ultimate rebel against tyranny, best embodied, by Satan.”

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