Florida Becomes the Front Line in the War on Christmas

The Satanists lost this battle, but it won’t be the last.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Lucia Graves
Dec. 20, 2013, 5:08 a.m.

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 …

What We're Following See More »
Cruz to Back Trump
1 days ago
Two Polls for Clinton, One for Trump
2 days ago

With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:

  • An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clin­ton lead­ing Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary John­son at 7%.
  • A Mc­Clatchy-Mar­ist poll gave Clin­ton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way bal­lot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
  • Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
Trump Eschewing Briefing Materials in Debate Prep
2 days ago

In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shun­ning tra­di­tion­al de­bate pre­par­a­tions, but has been watch­ing video of…Clin­ton’s best and worst de­bate mo­ments, look­ing for her vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies.” Trump “has paid only curs­ory at­ten­tion to brief­ing ma­ter­i­als. He has re­fused to use lecterns in mock de­bate ses­sions des­pite the ur­ging of his ad­visers. He prefers spit­balling ideas with his team rather than hon­ing them in­to crisp, two-minute an­swers.”

Trump Makes No Outreach to Spanish Speakers
2 days ago

Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."

Clintons Buy the House Next Door in Chappaqua
2 days ago

Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."