By Heide Brandes
OKLAHOMA CITY, Jan 14 (Reuters) - A regular on WABC's "Imus In The Morning" program apologized on Tuesday for saying Satanists who want to put a statue of Satan next to a Ten Commandments monument already outside the Oklahoma state capitol should be shot.
On a Jan. 9 radio show, simulcast on Fox Business Network as the "Mensa Meeting", Bernard McGuirk said the Satanic Temple should be allowed to put up the planned 7-foot tall statue and then its members should be shot right next to it.
"My comments were rooted in ignorance," McGuirk, sidekick to radio shock jock Don Imus, said on Tuesday on the show.
"Satanists do not promote evil a la Charles Manson or Hitler. Regardless, I don't want to see anybody shot, that's the truth of the matter, so I do apologize unequivocally. I apologize for those comments and certainly, certainly withdraw them," he said.
Controversy over religious monuments on the Oklahoma statehouse grounds has been swirling since legislative approval was granted to Christian groups using private funds in 2012 to erect a large stone tablet inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The American Civil Liberties Union is still fighting in court to remove the monument.
Other religious organizations demanded equal exposure at the capitol, proposing monuments to Satan, a monkey god, world peace and even one to honor the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission has banned any new monuments until the ACLU court fight is settled.
It was not the first time McGuirk publicly apologized for harsh comments. In 2007, after the on-air duo was fired for calling the Rutgers University women's basketball team "ho's" during a broadcast, McGuirk and Imus apologized to the team.
Fox officials confirmed that McGuirk had made an apology and referred questions to the producers of the show, who could not be reached immediately for comment.
The Satanic Temple's legal counsel called McGuirk's original comments reckless and an incitement to violence and demanded an apology from the Fox News Network.
"For that kind of thing to be advocated by Fox commentators is hypocritical and dangerous," Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in an interview.
Greaves said he hoped the incident would continue to build a dialogue about different religions.
"We were definitely shaken up by (McGuirk's original) comments," said Greaves. "We are happy he made the apology. It's our mission to open people's minds to look past arbitrary labels and to open dialogue." (Reporting by Heide Brandes; Editing by David Bailey and Barbara Goldberg)