The Satanic Temple has been busy over the past few years, mostly revolving around their proposed statue in Oklahoma City that you can see above in its completed glory. This time around it seems that Florida is once again on their radar, the second time in so many months.
Instead of trying to spread their message in Florida schools, they’re once again attempting to take part in the holidays. The interesting part is that they’re succeeding.
Last year, the state of Florida turned them down for a possible holiday display at the Florida state capitol building, even though they reportedly allowed other displays like a Festivus pole and another with the flying spaghetti monster. From New Times:
The temple said it went through the required channels and applied for a five-foot-by-five-foot square of the rotunda to put up its display, which depicted the scene from Isaiah 14:12, which reads: “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!”
But days after getting permission to put up the display, the group received an email from the Department of Management Services saying it was no longer eligible to put it up due to the display being “grossly offensive for the holidays,” according to the email.
“I wrote an email asking for clarification,” Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves told New Times last year. “Hours later, I called and left a voice-mail. We were perplexed.”
The Department of Management Services never returned Greaves’ phone calls or emails. Soon after, the deadline for putting up a display had passed and the Satanic Temple’s attempts at putting up the display in time for the holidays were unsuccessful.
Good old Lucien, always trying to do what’s right for the sake of his beliefs. Too bad there aren’t a lot of people out there willing to look past the word “Satan” when they make their decisions. The ones that’s are are pretty powerful, though.
This year, The Satanic Temple received help from the watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State. They were ready to go to battle against Florida on free speech grounds and managed to win out in the end:
Americans United sent a letter to Florida officials explaining that another rejection of the temple’s display would violate the Satanic Temple’s freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and right to equal protection under the law.
So while Americans United welcome the news of Florida officials giving the Satanic Temple the go-ahead this holiday season, it’s still wary of what the department pulled last year. The group says Florida officials’ calling the display “grossly offensive” remains a constitutional issue. Americans United says it’s ready to file a lawsuit should officials once again change their mind.
“Although we are pleased that the state has finally agreed to allow the Satanic Temple’s display, our clients should not have been forced to find legal counsel and plan a lawsuit just to get access to an open forum,” AU Senior Litigation Counsel Gregory M. Lipper said via an AU news release. “The state can’t give itself the authority to decide whether certain religious messages are ‘offensive’ — it needs to allow everyone’s speech or no one’s speech.” (via)
Sometimes legal threats work. In this case, they clear did because the display is the exact same as the Temple’s attempt from last year.
The victory doesn’t mean that The Satanic Temple won’t have any trouble with their display, but it does mean that they have a legal standing in case the state wants to have it officially removed from the Capitol. Greaves attempted to end the disagreement on a positive note:
“The spirit of celebration can never be monopolized,” Greaves says. “Religious differences aside, if there’s fun to be had, let’s have it. Let this season be a time in which we put our differences aside in the pursuit of happiness.” (via)
It’s sort of like the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, but with more demons and crazy Florida meth labs thrown in the mix. Typical Florida to be honest.