The Satanic Temple of Salem, Massachusetts is suing Netflix and Warner Bros. for $150 million dollars over the portrayal of the show’s Baphomet statue in the new series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Baphomet is a Satanic God portrayed as “an androgynous goat-headed deity.”
The lawsuit says that the companies infringed on its copyrights, violated its trademark, and caused injury to its business reputation, according to court documents filed on Thursday in a New York district court.
The statue, which is a near-identical replica of the statue of Baphomet that resides in Detroit, depicts the goat-headed deity with the infamous “right hand up, left hand down” (as above, so below) and includes two children gazing upwards. Although the Satanic Temple did not invent the Baphomet, the Sabrina statue seems to be directly inspired by the Temple’s statue, first unveiled in 2015. The nine-foot tall Baphomet has been used to “critique and mock Ten Commandments monuments at the Oklahoma and Arkansas State Capital buildings,” before it was moved to Detroit after multiple protests, according to Loudwire.
Because the statue is featured prominently in the show, The Satanic Temple claims its members are being associated with the “evil antagonists” depicted in the series. The temple says the statue’s image is being used to represent “an evil church that has blood rites and cannibalistic rituals,” especially considering the characters in the show who worship the ‘Dark Lord,’ engage in cannibalism, necromancy, murder and torture.
Because the Satanic Temple claims to “not promote evil” and instead holds to the “basic principle that undue suffering is bad, and that which reduces suffering is good,” the organization doesn’t appreciate being associated with the evildoers in the show. It hails Satan as a “rebel against God’s authority, rather than an evil being.”
The Satanic Temple published the following statement regarding the Netflix suit:
Netflix recently started streaming a show entitled The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a supernatural horror series dealing with various Hollywood tropes of witchcraft, devil worship and evil forces. Of note is the show’s appropriation of The Satanic Temple’s (TST) Baphomet statue to represent said Satanic Panic tropes which comes as a dismay to most TST leaders, most notably Executive Ministry, given Netflix and Warner Brother’s blatant neglect in requesting permission to use the image in this show.
The show’s creators did not utilize a generic Sabbatic goat that is commonly used in many occult circles, such as the image created by Eliphas Levi, but instead created an identical and easily identifiable replica of TST’s statue. Unlike most imagery associated with Satanism, the unique Baphomet statue designed and built for TST is copyrighted, which grants the creator exclusive rights to determine whether, and under what conditions, this original work may be used by others. When one does not actively protect their copyright material, especially by legal means, it becomes more and more difficult to establish standing as more and more egregious violations occur. This is especially important given the legal battles currently underway establishing our legitimacy and religious liberty that our Baphomet image is at the forefront of and therefore does not fall within a frivolous categorization so easily thrown around.
Years of careful and deliberate design element decisions, personal fund investments where crowdfunding fell short, and many more years of elaborating the meaning of this monument to those that would silence us has not been done for the sake of a good laugh. The cultivation of all of these efforts into a powerful symbol of religious liberty for the unjustly maligned, and symbolic of TST itself, deserves to be preserved and not allowed to fall to the whimsy of entertainment stereotypes. Due to this, permission should have been sought to use the image from the copyright holders (TST) who would determine if the usage would be done in a responsible and/or beneficial manner that would not sully the symbol’s importance to our members. Given the show’s utilization of the Baphomet statue to represent an evil cannibalistic cult, a perception falsely associated with Satanism even in modern times, TST would have denied its use to the show creators. Not only does it contradict what Baphomet represents, we owe it to those who identify with us to not allow this image, and by extension them, to be represented in this way.
Legal counsel has been consulted on the legitimacy of the case and they have agreed we have a clear claim of copyright infringement. Letters have been sent to both Netflix and Warner Brothers requesting that all renditions of the Baphomet statue be removed from their media and that they cease its use going forward.
In a series of tweets, co-founder and spokesman for The Satanic Temple, Lucien Greaves, says it is clear the temple’s statue was copied for the television series, and that the meaning of the statue has been negatively distorted in the television series.
“Importantly, these original expressions are misappropriated through the use of an obvious copy which is featured prominently throughout the Sabrina Series and the central focal point of the school in the Sabrina Series which represents evil antagonists,” the temple wrote in the federal complaint.
The religious group reached out to Netflix and Warner Bros. to remove the depiction, but the request went unanswered, according to CNBC.
“It does really kind of normalize this notion that the only true meaning of this type of religious identification is one that can be associated with a patriarchal, cannibalistic cult,” Greaves said. “We’re so inundated with this anti-Satan fiction that a lot of people think its superfluous to pursue to a claim like this at all.”
Netflix and Warner Bros. declined to comment, citing pending litigation.