Dec. 5 (UPI) -- A statue created by the Chicago-area Satanic Temple joined the Illinois Capitol's holiday displays this year after the organization sought equal freedom of expression.
The display features the arm of a woman holding an apple as a snake coils around her forearm. It's a reference to the biblical story of the snake enticing Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge, sparking what Christians call original sin.
It sits next to other symbols marking winter holidays, including a nativity scene for Christmas and a menorah for Hanukkah.
The Satanic Temple, which says it doesn't worship satan, says it views the snake and apple as a symbol representing the gift and pursuit of knowledge.
"We see Satan as a hero in that story, of course, spreading knowledge," Satanic Temple-Chicago spokesman Lex Manticore said.
"So that's no deities," he added. "Not only do we not worship a literal Satan, but we don't believe one actually exists. Satan for us is a metaphor. ... Throughout literary history, [it's] been used as a character that represents rebellion in the face of religious tyranny."
Illinois Family Action, an organization that says it supports "pro-family issues and candidates" in the state, condemned the statue.
"Satanic Temple monument was added to the #Illinois Capitol rotunda displays. They fail to realize that the little baby in the manger has CRUSHED Satan's head and the gates of hell will NOT prevail," the group said in a tweet.
The Illinois secretary of state's office said the holiday displays are open to all groups and they're not paid for with taxpayer dollars. It's about freedom of speech.
"Under the Constitution, the First Amendment, people have a right to express their feelings, their thoughts," spokesman Dave Druker said. "This recognizes that."
In a previous year, a group erected a Festivus pole, making a made-up holiday from an episode of Seinfeld.