Tallahassee, Fla. (CBS TAMPA) — A South Florida atheist activist successfully petitioned Gov. Rick Scott’s office to erect an 8-foot-tall Festivus pole made from Pabst Blue Ribbon cans in the State Capitol.
Separation of church and state watchdog Chaz Stevens, a self-proclaimed “militant atheist,” has been granted permission to construct the aluminum tower made famous from the show “Seinfeld.” The beer can construction project will go up right next to a Nativity scene at the Florida Capitol Rotunda, WPTV reports.
Stevens, of Deerfield Beach, argues that all religious expression should be barred from government property.
“All or none,” Stevens told WPTV. “They opened the door. So if they’re going to allow a menorah, a crèche, a Pabst Blue Ribbon pole, maybe a Flying Spaghetti Monster, I figured one ridiculous act required another.”
Stevens is best known by many for his “moral clarity” website, MyActsOfSedition.com. He was granted permission by the governor’s office last week to construct the Festivus pole prior to the secular holiday celebrated on Dec. 23.
The Festivus holiday was made famous in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, “The Strike,” in which character Frank Costanza declares his secular celebration of “A Festivus for the rest of us!”
In the episode, Costanza constructs a pole “made from aluminum, a very high strength-to-weight ratio.” Although it was not made with beer cans, Stevens told WPTV that it works for him because, “it got me through college.”
Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida ACLU, agreed with Stevens, saying that no religious symbols of any sort should be displayed on government buildings.
“And I’m not sure the people who manage the State Capitol fully appreciate the door that they have opened,” Simon told Tamarac Talk. “They’re not going to be able to say ‘no’ to the group that they don’t favor and ‘yes’ to today’s group that they obviously do favor.”
However, not everyone in the community agreed with the decision.
“Where does that cross over into the right and respect of others. If this were a true religion, where is the heritage, where is the history?” Boca Raton Pastor Mark Boykin asked WPTV.
Stevens did not appear concerned by others’ opposition to his secular stance on separation of church and state.
“There’s going to be quite the list of the airing of grievances against Chad Stevens I’m sure,” he said.
— Benjamin Fearnow