Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Satanic Temple Plans Holiday Display

Let's hear it one more time for the folks at The Satanic Temple. The group is now planning a holiday display for the Florida State Capital that depicts Lucifer falling from Heaven. The display was initially turned down by Florida officials, but a legal challenge is in the works. The challenge falls directly in line with the latest rulings from the Supreme Court that allow for religion in the public square, but only if all religions seeking representation can obtain it. A model of the proposed display is shown above.

First a Christian group erected a nativity scene that endorsed Christianity. Then an atheist group hung a winter solstice banner celebrating the Bill of Rights and freedom from religion. Inspired, another atheist built a Festivus pole made of beer cans, and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster added a small pile of holy noodles. Under current First Amendment law, the Capitol had no ability to turn down any of these groups; once the government opened the door to one religion, it had to let them all in.

But when the Satanic Temple applied to erect a display featuring an angel falling into a pit of fire, state officials turned it down. The display, they explained, was "grossly offensive during the holiday season." Now, with Christmas around the corner, the temple is reapplying, asserting its constitutional right to include its display alongside the others. And this time, it's bringing a legal team.

How did the Florida Capitol become the center of a constitutional showdown launched by Satanists? Surprisingly, the fault lies squarely with the U.S. Supreme Court's most conservative justices. In their quest to let the government endorse and sponsor mainstream religion, they accidentally granted groups like the Satanists and the Pastafarians a constitutional right to force the government to advertise their beliefs.

Apparently the author of this article believes that the Supreme Court "accidentally" allowed religions other than Christianity to erect displays, give invocations, and so forth, but from the questions asked and testimony given during those cases they did nothing of the sort. In every case the justices have made it clear that they're simply reading the constitution correctly - banning all religious displays would conflict with the "free exercise" clause, while allowing one religion and not others would conflict with the better publicized "establishment clause."

So the most accurate reading is in fact to allow members of all religions to erect their own displays and so forth as they see fit, which is the exact set of rulings by which The Satanic Temple should be allowed to put up their display. Hopefully the state of Florida will abandon its unconstitutional opposition soon and fall in line with the law of the land.

UPDATE: The state of Florida in fact did just that. The Satanic Temple will be allowed to put up their monument. The officials trying to block it must have finally realized that they had no case.

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