The Week's Jon Terbush wrote recently that the war on Christmas is over and the secularists have won, citing new polls showing that Christmas has gradually become less of a religious holiday and more of a cultural one. "Younger Americans are far less likely than older ones to view Christmas as a religious holiday," he writes.
While it's true the fight is no longer the cultural flash point it once was, its legacy remains in ongoing local battles over religious expression in schools and on government property. One such battle is playing out now in Florida.
Florida officials attracted the ire of atheists this holiday season when they erected a Nativity scene in their state Capitol rotunda, and for a minute it looked like Christmas was going to get a taste of its own medicine. Secular groups quickly moved to erect their own monuments to atheism alongside baby Jesus, successfully installing a Festivus pole (read: a stack of empty beer cans) as well as a Flying Spaghetti Monster.
But Florida state officials drew the line at Satanists. After getting an initial go-ahead, the Satanic Temple of Florida was all set to put up its display when it received an email from the state's Department of Management Services calling the display "grossly offensive." The design Satanists submitted, featured above, depicts a scene from Isaiah 14:12 that some interpret as the moment when Satan was cast down to earth, or "born." The text reads: "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!"
Lucien Greaves, spokesman for the Satanic Temple, said the Satanist design adheres to every guideline required by the state. "Our proposed structure does not present any images that would be inappropriate for people of any age," Greaves wrote in an email to state officials. "Like the Nativity scene, it presents an image from a biblical story, which is shared with other religious traditions besides our own. In addition, a positive sentiment of 'Happy Holidays' is displayed." Greaves is still waiting on a response.
A few days before Christmas, the war rages on ...