May 8 (UPI) -- The Satanic Temple religious group said the Minnesota town of Belle Plaine has approved its request to place a monument at a memorial park for veterans.
The Satanic veterans' monument, expected to be placed in June, will be a black steel cube fitted with a golden inverted pentagram on each side and an empty soldier's helmet on top, which monument designer Chris Andres said can act as a bowl in which people could place messages to fallen soldiers.
The monument's approval comes after debate started last summer when a cross was placed as a monument in the park. A resident objected to the monument by arguing it was a religious symbol, which violates the separation church and state. A group threatened to sue the state.
Months later, city officials voted to make the park a "public forum" where any group that wants to honor veterans could do so. The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Mass., then requested to put its own monument at the park.
City officials said they considered the "public forum" designation could invite provocateurs but they still approved the change.
"It was discussed during our city council meeting when we authored the policy that groups that were unpopular or otherwise would put monuments in the park," Belle Plaine city administrator Michael Votca said.
Lucien Greaves, spokesman for the group, said the cube will be the first Satanic monument erected by Satanists on public property.
"The Belle Plaine city council was professional at all times ... There was no push-back, unlike some other localities where public office holders have wasted public funds in losing lawsuits, trying to gain unconstitutional exclusive privilege for their own preferred religious viewpoint," Greaves said in a statement. "We appreciate having the opportunity to pay respect to soldiers and to demonstrate that the liberties they defended, and that many died for -- freedom of conscious, speech, religion and assembly -- were not fought for in vain."