Why does The Satanic Temple want to put its holiday display in the Florida Capitol Rotunda? Christmas is a Christian holiday.
Last week, The Satanic Temple finally received permission
from Florida’s Department of Management Services (DMS) to place a holiday display in the Capitol Rotunda where a nativity scene and various other holiday displays have already been represented. Curiously, the exact same display was submitted last holiday season and was rejected as “grossly offensive” without further elaboration. This year, we returned represented by a team of lawyers from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU), helping sway the DMS’s opinion, apparently, that our display isn’t so terribly offensive after all. AU, for their part, would surely rather that religious displays not be placed on public grounds at all, but once the separation between church and state has been breached, it’s important to ensure that the government remain neutral, not preferencing one religious perspective over any other.
A predictable uproar has ensued, and is still gaining momentum. Paranoid conspiracist bloviator Glenn Beck sees in our display impending doom, warning in a broadcast that “destruction is coming our way.” Former Republican presidential primary candidate Herman Cain took to Facebook to display his constitutional ignorance, chastising Florida for not engaging in viewpoint discrimination (without attempting any legal justification). Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, in an infantile on-air tirade acted as a self-appointed arbiter of The Satanic Temple’s “true” motives, deciding – with no reference to any facts at all – that “this is purely an attempt to stick a finger in the eye of Christians in Florida.”
The fact is, nobody holds a monopoly on the holidays, nor does our holiday display make any reference to Christmas. One could digress into history to explore Christmas’ Pagan roots, or note with amusement that early American Puritans themselves banned the holiday as an affront to God, but that’s all beside the point. The fact is, our holiday well-wishing hardly constitutes any infringement or insult upon anybody else’s ability to celebrate whatever holiday they celebrate, however they see fit. We refuse to sit, sullen, silen, and excluded, when there could be celebration instead (Satanists are religiously pro-fun). As I stated in a piece for Jezebel.com, “[...] we hope that our display, among the various others, will contribute to a general and growing understanding of plurality. If there is fun to be had, we'll have it – and we wish the same for all, regardless of religious affiliation, or lack thereof.”
Happy Holidays from The Satanic Temple!
Lucien Greaves is the pen name/pseudonym for Doug Mesner, spokesman for The Satanic Temple.