The Satanic Temple is suing Netflix and Warner Brothers for $150 million, saying 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.
At the center of the controversy is Baphomet, described in the court documents as "an androgynous goat-headed deity." A statue of the satanic god surrounded by children is featured in the Netflix series "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina."
However, the lawsuit claims the show's statue is similar to its real-life Baphomet monument, which was made famous by an Indiegogo campaign in 2014. Although it was intended to be installed next to the Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma State Capitol, it now resides in Detroit after multiple protests. The Baphomet statue has since become "a central icon that has come to represent us [satanists] as a people," explained The Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves.
"To have that all at once entirely eclipsed by some Netflix show by a production department who did a Google Image Search... A lot of people who haven't heard of us first stand to just recognize that monument as the 'Sabrina' monument, which dilutes and denigrates the entire project," he said.
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 characters of the show, who worship the "Dark Lord" or Satan, engage in cannibalism, necromancy, murder and torture, among other nefarious activities.
The Satanic Temple, on the other hand, "does not promote evil and instead holds to the basic principle that undue suffering is bad, and that which reduces suffering is good," the organization claims. It hails Satan as a "rebel against God's authority, rather than an evil being."
The religious group reached out to Netflix and Warner Bros. to remove the depiction when it became aware of the statue in the series, but its request went unanswered.
"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.