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.