Despite Jesus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and a Festivus Pole in Capitol, Florida Officials Say No to Satanists

This is unbelievable. The Florida State Capitol Building is currently home to a Nativity scene, Festivus Pole, three signs from atheist groups, and an homage to the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

(Ben Wolf – Department of Management Services)

So you would think the everyone-is-welcome mentality would be welcoming of a display from the Satanic Temple as well, right?

Nope. The temple’s display was deemed “grossly offensive”:

The proposed Satanic Temple display (via the Department of Management Services)

In an email Wednesday afternoon, DMS Administrative Assistant Sherrie K. Routt denied Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves the inclusion of a kiosk adorned with an angel falling into a pit of flames and the words “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple” because “The Department’s position is that your proposed display is grossly offensive during the holiday season.”

The display also has a bible verse, Luke 10:18, which reads “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”

You may argue that the application submitted by the temple may have given Florida officials a different idea of what to expect…

… the Satanic Temple described its exhibit as a 5-foot by 5-foot poster “of religious symbols and images that adhere to community standards… to contribute to the plurality of the community by representing the spirit of good will from other faiths.”

… however, keep this in mind: The Satanic Temple’s display was just a depiction of a Bible verse.

Just like the Nativity scene.

It’s irrelevant that one of those displays is about the birth of Jesus while the other depicts hell. What’s important is that Florida officials have deemed themselves the arbiters of which scenes from the Christian holy book are allowed to be displayed and which ones are not. What makes one better or worse? And isn’t it discriminating against the Satanists to say no to them while saying yes to the Christians?

If officials at the Department of Management Services say the Satanic display is too offensive, they owe us an explanation of why it’s any different from the Nativity scene (especially when you consider that Christians believe that those who don’t accept Christ’s divinity are hellbound, too).

Here’s one more thing from the rejection email to the Satanic Temple:

“The Department’s position is that your proposed display is grossly offensive during the holiday season.”

That qualifier makes the problem even worse.

As if the issue at hand is how Christians, specifically, might be offended by the display. As if that matters at all. It’s like the Florida officials are telling the Satanists, “We would totally let you have that display in the Capitol building over the summer, but during Christmas, when we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus, you can’t offend Christian sensibilities by reminding everybody of hell.”

It’s actually surprising to me that the Satanists’ display — again, a scene from the Bible — is considered offensive, while the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Festivus pole, both of which could be construed as mockeries of religious beliefs, are given a free pass.

Maybe Florida would just be better off not allowing any displays in the Capitol building at all. (Which is basically the main reason the atheist groups are fighting to have their displays included in the mix.)

Right now, officials are just setting themselves up for a lawsuit.

(Thanks to Andrew for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • C Peterson

    “Offensive” is in the eye of the beholder. It isn’t really the State’s decision to make, except within some narrowly defined legal parameters (e.g. racism, pornography) that don’t seem to apply here.

    Hope we see a lawsuit.

  • Kirs

    Religious freedom for some, a big “eff you” to others.

  • Jon Gilmore

    We need more activism out of the satanic community. Suddenly atheist ain’t looking so bad, huh?

  • Richard Wade

    Wow! After being at the bottom of the liked/trusted list for so long, finally one group is hated more than us! We’re coming up in the world!

    Mother to her son: “So you’re an atheist, you’re gay, you’re a mime, and your boyfriend is a gay black Muslim Justin Bieber fan used car salesman studying to be an abortionist?? Oh, thank goodness! I was afraid you were going to tell me that you’re a Satanist!”

  • Pepe

    You mean Obama is a Justin Bieber fan? 😛

  • Booze And Nonsense

    I thought that this was a safe space for mimes…

  • Dave The Sandman

    I agree with the Patrician of Ankh Morpork on the matter of mimes
    Into the scorpion pit with them.

  • JA

    Lawsuit that Florida cannot win incoming…

  • unbound55

    And all the tax money that gets thrown out the window with it…

  • Richard Tingley

    Sadly, yes, but hopefully it will teach them to say out of the religious display business.

  • Neko

    The Satanic Temple display is a disappointment. It’s kind of middle-school project bad. They missed an opportunity to shine!

    The spaghetti monster, on the other hand, is adorable.

  • David McNerney

    If I may – to the Satanic Temple – a couple of sprigs of holly might have gone a long way to easing the acceptance of your submission.

  • unbound55

    The only thing that offends me about the Satanist’s display is the same thing that offends me about the FSM display. Looks like a project a kid threw together in a hurry.

    Anything worth doing is worth doing well!

  • Bear Millotts

    That is one seriously awesome diorama! You’d think the Xians would want that sort of advertisement, since they say it enough already.

  • Amor DeCosmos

    I am thinking about converting to Satanism. Those guys just seem to have such a good sense of humour and manage to really push buttons. My kind of people.

  • Timmah

    Meanwhile lets put up some more billboards with a fire graphic in the background about how dudes who like other dudes are gonna burn forever. Cause thats not offensive at all.

  • David Evans

    I have some sympathy with the authorities. If these people truly worship Satan, and take their moral code from him, aren’t they dangerous?

    Here is number 11 of Anton LaVey’s Satanic Rules of the Earth:

    “When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.” (my italics)

    If atheists argue that that man should have the same rights as Christians, we are going to alienate a lot of people.

  • WallofSleep

    He does have the same rights as christians or anyone else. But just like everyone else, his right to expression ends at the tip of another’s nose.

    He can expect to be jailed for following the violent parts of his scriptures just as easily as a christian can for following their violent parts of their scriptures.

    EDIT: And this is funny. The Satanic bible says to bother no one, but if someone should bother you unprovoked, and refuses to stop, destroy him. That’s evil.

    The christian bible basically commands you to bother the fuck out of people, unrelentingly, and should they refuse your gospel, destroy them to the last. That’s not just good and just, but also love. Funny indeed.

  • Richard Wade

    One is either for freedom of speech and freedom of religion for everyone, or one is not for those freedoms at all. If we don’t support one group’s freedom just because we don’t want to alienate others, then we’re supporting the very same people who are eager to deny us our freedom as well.

  • Pepe

    That reminded me of this :

  • JholderBC

    If these people truely worship god, and their their moral code from him arn’t they dangerous?

    There is A LOT of violenent acts mandated by god, and 99.9% of xtians just simply ignore since they do not get their morals from the bible ( luckly for the human race )

  • Holytape

    They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

    Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

  • Art_Vandelay

    … however, keep this in mind: The Satanic Temple’s display was just a depiction of a Bible verse.

    Just like the Nativity scene.

    From the same frickin’ chapter!

  • Jvall

    This is just so delicious it HAS to be fattening!

    They got a visual of the book they’re following and were turned off by it… Yep, it’s true, you want to make atheists, read the bible.

  • Prototype Atheist

    Keep the displays coming!! We need all religions to get displays in there so that it gets to a point where it is absurd and they will just end the practice entirely.

  • Holytape

    Well, maybe they were just complaining about the angel statue. Everyone knows that you have to keep staring at it, or there will be trouble. Blink, even just once, and the angel will zap you back in time to an age of superstition and repression.

  • R Bonwell parker

    I think it’s tacky to have that many displays in one area.

  • Prototype Atheist

    Good, let’s hope more people feel the same way…

  • Dave The Sandman

    Christmas just came early for local civil rights lawyers.

    Sue them my Satanist chums…..sue them till their eyes bleed.

    Next project – find a Satanist student and ensure they get their fair and proper slice of time on that school public address system.

  • JaniceInToronto

    The lawsuit will be fun to watch. The contortions will be delightful. I can hardly wait. Please tell us you’re going to follow this one right through to the bitter end…

  • pianoman

    I think dogs are gods, so I’d like a Golden Retriever display please.