Satanists have won the right to place a holiday display inside Florida’s state capitol in Tallahassee later this month — one that features an image of an angel falling into burning flames, Bible verses and a “Happy Holidays” message.
Officials in the state had initially refused the Satanist display and called it “offensive,” but have since changed their minds after Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a church-state activist group, threatened a lawsuit on behalf of Satanists, according to a press release.
The New York-based Satanic Temple, which does not believe the devil to be real and “advocates for religious tolerance and pluralism,” will be free to put the scene on display beginning December 22.
The Florida capitol rotunda has become a place where numerous dueling holiday messages generally emerge. Take 2013, for instance, when an atheist display and a Festivus pole, among other symbols, were placed next to the traditional nativity.
Despite the state’s change-of-heart on the Satanic display, Americans United isn’t backing down from its public challenge to the state’s Department of Management Services banning certain displays.
“Free speech is for everyone and all groups,” Americans United executive director the Rev. Barry W. Lynn said in a statement. “State officials simply can’t get into the business of deciding that some unpopular messages are ‘offensive’ and must be banned.”
As TheBlaze previously reported, the Satanic Temple’s holiday display was rejected for inclusion last year in the annual holiday display inside the capitol, who has designated an area as a public forum.
Those familiar with the Bible will recognize that the scene is described in Isaiah 14:12, which reads, “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”
Luke 10:18 also references Lucifer’s fall from heaven: “He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’”
Florida’s Department of Management Services had reportedly responded to a December 2013 attempt to place the display near a nativity inside the capitol by noting that The Satanic Temple’s holiday imagery was “grossly offensive.”
“The department’s position is that your proposed display is grossly offensive during the holiday season,” Sherrie K. Routt, administrative assistant at Florida Department of Management Services, wrote at the time, according to the Christian Post.
The Satanic Temple has been involved in a number of public causes of late.