Last year, the Satanic Temple put in a request to Florida's Department of Management Services to have a display placed in the state's Capitol rotunda along with a Nativity scene for the holidays.
The Satanic Temple was rejected with extreme prejudice and told that its display was "grossly offensive for the holidays" by the department. The temple asked for an elaboration on what exactly was grossly offensive but never got a response.
The 2013 holidays came and went without the temple being able to set up its display.
Now, with the 2014 season approaching, the Satanic Temple is once again submitting its request for the same exact display to be put up in the state Capitol. And it's come armed with lawyers.
When the temple submitted its request last year, it was initially given the green light to proceed with its display.
The Department of Management Services has specific requirements for any display that is to be put up in the rotunda, but merely for aesthetic purposes -- how large and how much space it takes up.
But the remainder of the qualifications are not very binding. Religious groups and nonbelievers alike are welcome to put up any display.
Deerfield Beach resident Chaz Stevens made headlines when he placed a festivus pole made of beer cans in the rotunda. Another atheist group put up a Spaghetti Monster next to the Baby Jesus.
Like the others, the Satanic Temple 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!"
At the time, the Satanic Temple shared the Department of Management Services's email exchange with New Times that called the display (shown above) "grossly offensive for the holiday season."
This after the application had already been approved. Days later, the group received a letter of confirmation of approval with an attachment that read that the display had been rejected.
"I wrote an email asking for clarification," Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves told New Times. "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 its were unsuccessful.
But on Wednesday, the group announced its intention by applying to put up the same exact display this holiday season.
"This year, we're submitting our display early, with plenty of time to confront any objections or concerns," Greaves says.
The Satanic Temple says it's working with legal counsel from the nonpartisan Americans United for Separation of Church and State to make sure there aren't any vague entanglements or rejections this time around.
The argument the Temple and AU are making is simple: There shouldn't be preferential treatment among religious groups.
The Bible's chapter and verse that inspired the display is often interpreted as Satan's "birth," when he's cast down to the Earth -- a clear juxtaposition of the birth of Jesus. It's also a well-known Scripture among other religions.
But it's a biblical scene, nonetheless. And it can't be any more offensive than a pile of empty alcoholic beverage cans.
"In a nation that respects religious liberty, viewpoint discrimination is simply intolerable," Greaves says. "Our holiday display sends a very important, affirmative message that goes above and beyond that of superficial season's greetings. It's a message of religious freedom and church/state separation expressed in the state's neutrality."
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