The state Department of Management Services on Wednesday denied an attempt by “Satanists” to put up a display in the Florida Capitol, which currently showcases a Nativity scene, a Festivus pole made of beer cans, posters from atheists, and a crudely-made Flying Spaghetti Monster.
“The department’s position is that your proposed display is grossly offensive during the holiday season,” DMS Administrative Assistant Sherrie K. Routt emailed a group calling itself the Satanic Temple.
Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the temple, said in an email the group was “surprised and dismayed” by the rejection. However, before possibly challenging the decision, the temple is seeking clarification from DMS as it had initially been advised the display had been approved and that “written confirmation is forthcoming,” Greaves said.
The group initially requested putting up a 5-foot-by-5-foot poster that featured “religious symbols and images” on Dec. 9. In the application, the group explained that the public service intended was to “contribute to the plurality of the community by representing the spirit of good will from other faiths.” The group would later send DMS a photo of the proposed display that bannered the phrase “Happy holidays from the Satanic Temple” atop a diorama of an angel falling into hell. A sign on one side of the display referenced Luke 10:18 including the line, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
The display itself appears to be an illustration of a verse from Isaiah, 14:12, which reads: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, who did weaken the nations!”
The Satanic Temple sent another email, explaining that it had followed every guideline and every rule. According to the Borward County New Times, Greaves also asked DMS in an email to point out which parts of the display seemed offensive, and offered to change it and resubmit it.
“Please inform the Department that it is not our intention to offend,” the Temple’s email to the DMS read. “Our proposed structure does not present any images that would be inappropriate for people of any age. Like the Nativity scene, it presents an image from a Biblical story, which is shared with other religious traditions besides our own. In addition, a positive sentiment of ‘Happy Holidays’ is displayed.”
Since the Florida Prayer Network’s Christian Nativity scene was set up in the first floor of the Capitol on Dec. 3, DMS has approved requests for space in the rotunda for a 6-foot-tall “Festivus” pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans by South Florida political blogger Chaz Stevens and seasonal signs from the Tallahassee Atheists, The American Atheists Florida Regional Directors and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.
On Tuesday, the department approved a display that included an office chair and shredded paper depicting spaghetti for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Last January, the “Satanists” drew about six of the self-professed devil worshippers to the steps of the Old Capitol for what they said was an event to praise Gov. Rick Scott — but that was reported to be part of an effort to make a fake documentary.
–FlaglerLive and the News Service of Florida