When Florida began allowing holiday displays in its capital rotunda it opened the door to politically correct madness. The latest is after a threatened lawsuit, state officials reversed an earlier decision and will allow the Satanic Temple to erect a holiday display at the State Capitol in Tallahassee this month.
The state has designated the rotunda as an open forum for private speech, and every December groups erect holiday-themed displays at their own expense. Last year the rotunda housed a nativity scene, two atheist-themed messages, a “Festivus Pole” and a rendering of the Pastafarian Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Satanic Temple was denied access on the grounds that the proposed display (see above) was “grossly offensive.”
In October Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to the Florida Department of Management Services on behalf of the Satanic Temple. The letter said state officials could not deny the Satanists’ monument this year:
Given the manner in which the Department of Management Services rejected the Satanic Temple’s application last year, we remind the Department of its obligations under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Department may not, as it did last year, reject the Satanic Temple’s display — even if the Department finds the display to be “offensive.” A rejection of the proposed display would violate the Free Speech Clause, Establishment Clause, and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Americans United Executive Director Rev. Barry W. Lynn said state officials violated the temple’s rights:
Government officials have no right to determine what is ‘offensive’ when it comes to religion. If public space is open to all, that must include groups that some people may not like.”
Today Americans United for Separation of Church and State celebrated the Florida reversal in a press release:
Americans United, which had been preparing to file suit on the Satanic Temple’s behalf, welcomed state officials’ decision but warned that the department’s written policy excluding “offensive” displays continues to present constitutional problems.
“Free speech is for everyone and all groups,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “State officials simply can’t get into the business of deciding that some unpopular messages are ‘offensive’ and must be banned.”
The Temple’s proposed display depicts an angel falling from the sky into flames, accompanied by Bible verses and the message “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple.” The Temple describes itself as a religious organization dedicated to principles of empathy, personal autonomy and empirical reasoning.
In an email sent yesterday, state officials informed the Satanic Temple that its display may be erected Dec. 22-29.
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,” said AU Senior Litigation Counsel Gregory M. Lipper. “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.
This is what happens when a culture allows political correctness go wild. Even though Judaism does not recognized Satan as “a devil” I think Florida’s original decision finding the satanic display as offensive was the correct one. Personally I find the Festivus Pole which mocks Christmas and Chanukah, and the Pastafarian Flying Spaghetti Monster just as offensive.
If Florida truly wanted to get into the “holiday spirit” they should have fought against the lawsuit. and if they lost they should have forced everyone including the Nativity Scene to be taken down. It is better to send no message that to teach that Festivus, Pastafarianism, and Satanic worship is on par with Christianity.