The Satanic Temple of Florida is inexplicably getting the shaft from the state's Department of Management Services, keeping the group from putting up its holiday display in the Florida Capitol rotunda.
The DMS claims to be open to any group or person who sends in an application and follows its specific guidelines and restrictions so it could have its holiday display go up in the rotunda along with a Nativity scene.
Just last week, Deerfield Beach resident and self-proclaimed "militant atheist" 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.
The Satanic Temple, based in Tallahassee, was all set to put up its display and had even received an email from the DMS giving it the go-ahead. Then, it received an email of rejection, calling the display "grossly offensive."
According to the emails, which the Satanic Temple of Florida shared with New Times, the DMS deemed the group's display "grossly offensive for the holiday season," though the group followed every rule and guideline required and has yet to hear what exactly is so offensive.
"We applied for a five-foot-by-five-foot square at the Capitol rotunda to put a display," Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves tells New Times. "We received an email stating that our display had been approved and that a letter of confirmation was forthcoming."
But then the letter came in an email attachment that said the group had actually been rejected.
"I wrote an email asking for clarification," Greaves says. "Hours later, I called and left a voice-mail. We were perplexed."
But then a reply came, saying that the group's request to put up a display was rejected because of the whole "grossly offensive" thing.
The offensive display (you may want to avert your eyes from all the offensiveness!):
The display, which, again, followed every guideline the DMS requires, depicts 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!"
Some believe the Scripture speaks of Satan being cast down to the Earth. Hence, his "birth." It's a clear juxtaposition of the birth of the baby Jesus. But clearly not "grossly offensive" in any way. It's also a well-known Scripture among other religions.
The Satanic Temple sent the Department of Management Services another email, explaining that it had followed every guideline and every rule.
"Please inform the Department that it is not our intention to offend," the Temple's email to the DMS read. "Our proposed structure does not present any images that would be inappropriate for people of any age. Like the Nativity scene, it presents an image from a Biblical story, which is shared with other religious traditions besides our own. In addition, a positive sentiment of 'Happy Holidays' is displayed."
In the email, Greaves also asks the DMS to point out which parts of the display seemed offensive.
He says that, if the explanation is reasonable, the group will change things and resubmit its request.
Greaves and the Satanic Temple have yet to hear back from the powers that be. Meanwhile, Christmas is merely a few days away.
Baby Jesus, a pole made of used beer cans, and a Spaghetti Monster have all made the cut.
But for some reason, the folks in Tallahassee are grossly offended by an innocuous display from a group that happens to be called the Satanic Temple.
And maybe that's what the problem is. This is less of an "offensive" problem than it is an ignorant one. And one that clearly violates the temple's rights.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, after all, sounds a lot cuter and a lot less threatening than "the Satanic Temple."
It's the ooga-booga! factor, if you will.
Florida gonna Florida...
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