The Satanic Temple (TST) announced Wednesday it has sued an advertising company because it refused to display some billboards promoting a ritual offered by the group to help people bypass abortion rules in some states.
Based in Salem, Massachusetts, the TST has sued Lamar Advertising in Arkansas state court. The suit accuses the Louisiana-based company of religious discrimination.
TST says Lamar refused to display eight billboards in Arkansas and Indiana promoting what the group calls its "religious abortion ritual." The group describes the ritual as a "sacramental act that confirms the right of bodily autonomy."
By performing the ritual, the group says, people can claim a religious exemption from mandatory waiting periods, counseling, ultrasounds and other measures that some states require before an abortion can be performed. The group says it submitted five designs to Lamar to be displayed near pro-life pregnancy centers.
In one of the images, a bowl of cake batter is shown with the text, "not a cake," next to an image of a sperm and egg with the text "not a baby." It's accompanied by text saying, "Our religious abortion ritual averts many state restrictions."
Lamar rejected the billboards and said their content was "misleading and offensive," according to the suit.
As CBN News reported in August, TST announced it was raffling a free abortion to promote the organization's Satanic abortion ritual, while it argued that its members' religious rights are exempt from any state laws or any regulations that might block access to abortion services during the first trimester.
The organization contends those who practice the Satanic abortion ritual are exempt from being subjected to waiting periods, mandatory counseling, forced viewing of sonograms, and reading materials as required in many states.
"TST bases its assertions of abortion mandate exemptions on the protections provided by State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts or RFRA, which generally prohibits the government from substantially interfering with a person's free exercise of religion," TST said in a press release at the time.
The Satanic Temple claims their abortion ritual as practiced by its members is exempt from the existing abortion regulations on the basis of religious liberty. The group says all abortions by its members are religious acts of Satanism and protected under the ruling.
The organization has also made a sample letter available to all its members to request a religious exemption to abortion restrictions. Founded in 2012, TST claims to have more than 300,000 members worldwide.
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