TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBS Tampa) — A Satanic group wants to put up a holiday display in Florida’s Capitol rotunda that shows the devil descending into hell.
The Broward-Palm Beach New Times reports that the Florida Department of Management Services banned the Satanic Temple’s holiday display last year because they deemed it “grossly offensive for the holidays.”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to state officials this week telling them they cannot ban the Satanic group from putting up the display.
“Given the manner in which the Department of Management Services rejected the Satanic Temple’s application last year, we remind the Department of its obligations under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution,” the letter reads. “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.’”
The letter continued: “Members of the religious majority are sometimes offended by the beliefs of religious minorities, and vice/versa. But the Satanic Temple is not required to censor itself in order to take advantage of a forum supposedly open to all.”
According to the New Times, the Satanic Temple was originally granted a space in the Capitol rotunda to display Lucifer falling from heaven into hell with a Bible verse on the side. The display read, “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple.”
The department then rejected the display after initially giving the group permission, calling it “grossly offensive for the holidays.”
“In a nation that respects religious liberty, viewpoint discrimination is simply intolerable,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves told the New Times. “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.”
Americans United is requesting the state respond within 14 days.
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