The Satanic Temple has filed a lawsuit against a Louisiana-based advertising agency for refusing to display billboards advocating that abortion is a sacred “religious ritual.” The Temple’s promotion of its abortion ritual skirts “many state restrictions.”
Lamar Advertising said it would not display eight TST billboards near pro-life pregnancy centers in Arkansas and Indiana. The agency wanted no part of the Temple’s Religious Reproductive Rights campaign that launched earlier in August.
While TST’s lawsuit claims Lamar’s refusal amounts to religious discrimination, Lamar said the content contained on the billboards is “misleading and offensive.”
One of the billboards shows a bowl of cake batter with the words “not a cake” on the left side. On the right, is an image of a sperm and egg with the words “not a baby” written beside it. Between the images is the phrase, “Our religious abortion ritual averts many state restrictions.”
Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves said that although concerns over “forcing a private entity to engage in speech or conduct it objects to” is understandable, Lamar’s refusal is significantly different.
“Lamar initially agreed to work with us and their rejection appears to be religiously based. In addition, they have a virtual monopoly in certain regions,” Greaves said in a statement.
“In this way, Lamar is able to regulate public-speech and they are not permitted to selectively exclude religious voices they object to.”
When launching its Religious Reproductive Rights campaign, TST posted a video on YouTube, detailing how it planned on taking advantage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The video said the RFRA “generally prohibits the government from interfering with a person’s free exercise of religion.” This exercise of religion includes religious rituals. TST claims that its religious rituals includes abortion, saying it “provides spiritual comfort and affirms bodily autonomy and self-worth.”
“Within the states that have enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, religiously performed abortions are exempt from legal requirements that are not medically necessary,” the video argues.
“[TST] will do all it can to assure that states protect the religious rights of our members to obtain first-trimester abortions on demand.”
The Satanic Temple’s lawsuit against Lamar isn’t the first time it has taking legal action against state regulations. In 2019, it sued the state of Missouri for requiring women to read literature declaring that “the life of each human being begins at conception.”
The religious organization’s lawsuit, however, was dismissed by both the Missouri Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.