Tampa Tribune: Will Christmas mean controversy at the Capitol this year?

Staff Festivus, Projects 0 Comments

James L. Rosica in Tallahassee
Published: December 1, 2014

State officials later this week will decide on which holiday displays will be allowed in the Capitol rotunda, a spokesman for the Department of Management Services said Monday.

The displays made news last year after the state turned down a request from the New York-based Satanic Temple to install a diorama of an angel falling into hell.

Six applications have so far been received to have a display this winter holiday season, department spokesman Ben Wolf said.

They are from:

  • Chaz Stevens, the South Florida blogger who last year placed a 6-foot “Festivus” pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans, inspired by the made-up holiday from a 1997 “Seinfeld” episode.
  • The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which placed a “Winter Solstice” banner last year.
  • The International House of Prayer-Tallahassee, which believes in continuous “24/7” prayer to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ, according to its website.
  • The Florida Prayer Network/Florida Nativity Scene Committee, which placed a nativity scene last year.
  • American Atheists, who placed a medium-sized board with a tongue-in-cheek message to “celebrate the true meaning of Xmas,” including “friends,” “fun” and “Chinese food.”
  • The New York-based Satanic Temple, whose submission was rejected last year for being “grossly offensive.”

Copies of the applications, including depictions of proposed displays, were not immediately available for review Monday afternoon.

DMS reviews and approves proposed displays, but its rules didn’t mention or define the term “grossly offensive.”

In January, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sent a letter to the department saying the rejection was a violation of the temple’s free-speech rights. The group did not sue.

Original story here.

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