Chalk it up to their special relationship with Lucifer, but nobody trolls like the Satanists. For their latest trick, they're trying to get a special seasonal display installed at the Florida Capitol, depicting an angel falling from Heaven into the fiery pit. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Hail, Satan!
Slate explains that, over the years, the Supreme Court has extended some protections to expression of religion on public property—but thanks to Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, if you offer the option, you've got to offer it to everybody. Officials at the Capitol have already admitted displays from multiple atheist groups and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
But when the Satanic Temple applied last year, they were denied, on the grounds their diorama was "grossly offensive during the holiday season." Tough shit, say the Satanists and their lawyers at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. They're back, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, and they don't want any crap. From the AUSCS's letter supporting the display:
"The Department may not, as it did last year, reject the Satanic Temple's display—even if the department finds the display to be "offensive," wrote legal counsel for AUSCS. "A rejection of the proposed display would violate the Free Speech Clause, Establishment Clause, and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
Said Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves:
"This year, we're submitting our display early, with plenty of time to confront any objections or concerns. In a nation that respects religious liberty, viewpoint discrimination is simply intolerable. For that reason, we feel 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."
According to Slate, they're already working on the lawsuit they'll file if they don't receive timely approval from Capitol officials.
And yes, this is the same group that tried to get an enormous sculpture of Baphomet installed at the Oklahoma statehouse, in response to the prominently displayed Ten Commandments. (Adding an extra layer of WTF: The leader of the Church of Satan, America's oldest Satanic outfit and prime rival to the Satanic Temple, thinks they're a bunch of full-of-shit punks.) It's also the second time in as many months they've made Florida-related headlines; previously, they pushed Orlando schools to distribute this charming coloring book, since kids already get a free Bible with their publicly funded education. Florida may have finally met its match.
Image via AP