God-fearing Americans will gather in prayer this weekend, on July 15, against the “public honoring of Satan” in the small town of Belle Plaine, Minnesota. A group called America Needs Fatima, which shows devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, will assemble in front of Veterans Memorial Park in Belle Plaine along with interested others.
“The specific purpose is to raise our prayer against Satan,” Robert Ritchie, executive director of America Needs Fatima, told LifeZette.
The group is opposed to a “bowl of wisdom” satanic monument sponsored by the Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple and proposed for the park. The controversial structure is a 23-inch by 23-inch black steel cube inscribed with inverted pentagrams. It will have an empty, upside-down soldier’s helmet on top to hold remembrances and messages written to fallen soldiers. The city approved the monument — allegedly the first satanic monument on public property in the U.S.
A complicated series of events has led up to the upcoming protests. Last August, an 87-year-old Army veteran and Belle Plaine resident named Joseph Gregory placed a cross in Veterans Memorial Park. He “made an iron silhouette of a soldier holding a gun and kneeling by a cross grave marker that the Belle Plaine Veterans Club” then placed it in the park, as The Catholic Spirit noted last month. (Gregory died in October 2016.)
But a local resident filed a police complaint against the cross — and the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation was apparently behind the complaint. The group argued the cross did not belong in a public space, and the city decided to remove the cross in early January 2017.
The removal of the cross “outraged members of the Veterans Club and galvanized the small town 45 miles southwest of Minneapolis,” as Minnesota’s Star Tribune reported in February. “Hundreds of crosses were [then] erected on front lawns and displayed in private businesses to pressure city leaders.”
The publication added, “Some Belle Plaine residents considered the city’s initial decision to remove the cross an insult to veterans who had fought and died for their country. They have accused groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Satanic Temple of preying on small towns that lack the resources to fight back. They repeatedly argued that the cross … was not intended as a crucifix, but rather, as individual expression similar to a grave marker.”
The city council voted in February to allow a limited open public space for monuments that honor veterans. So the cross was re-installed in April.
Pushback against the proposed satanic monument has been ongoing. “Father Brian Lynch, pastor of Our Lady of the Prairie, gathered for prayer in the park June 3 with more than 50 Catholics,” The Catholic Spirit reported. “Two days later, about 40 Catholics joined Father Lynch as he testified against the proposed monument before the Belle Plaine City Council.”
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“It’s really not a freedom of speech issue, because people who are under the influence of Satan do what Satan wants,” Ritchie of America Needs Fatima told LifeZette. “It’s more a question of, ‘Why do we want the devil amongst us?’ That’s what’s scaring people. We don’t want the devil amongst us.”
“This is an affront to God that must not go unanswered!” Minnesota’s Holy Trinity Parish said in an online post. “All are encouraged to join a peaceful Rosary of Reparation with hymns, novenas, divine praises, and consecration to Jesus through Mary.”
The rally takes place at noon Saturday.
“What gives this rosary rally special historic meaning is the fact that on this very day, 918 years ago, the crusaders took Jerusalem from Islam,” Bernard Slobodnik, one of the event coordinators for America Needs Fatima, said in a press release. Those at the rally will “implore God and the Blessed Virgin Mary to crush Satan, and to thwart the efforts of Satanic groups to achieve mainstream acceptance of the devil.”
“The crusader saints will be invoked during the rosary rally as our special patrons in the spiritual war against the devil and his followers,” Slobodnik said in the same media release.