A Satanic Temple holiday display at the Florida Capitol featuring Satan descending into the fires of hell has been rejected by the Department of Management Services for being "grossly offensive."
"The Department's position is that your proposed display is grossly offensive during the holiday season," read an email by DMS Administrative Assistant Sherrie K. Routt shared by Tallahassee.com on Wednesday.
The display is a kiosk decorated as the pits of hell, with an angel seemingly descending into the fires. It features the Bible verse Luke 10:18, which reads: "And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven;" as well as Isaiah 14:12: "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!"
The kiosk wishes people "Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple," and was meant to be placed next to a number of other religious exhibits at the capitol – including a Christian nativity scene, and the atheist "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster."
"The government has decided that one biblical scene is offensive and one biblical scene is acceptable. And legally speaking I don't think they have a leg to stand on," said Freedom from Religion Foundation lawyer Andrew Seidel in response, according to WFSU.org, arguing that with this move, Florida has shown an unconstitutional preference for Christianity.
The Satanic Temple apparently described its kiosk as representing "religious symbols and images that adhere to community standards ... to contribute to the plurality of the community by representing the spirit of good will from other faiths."
The organization says on its official website that its mission is to "encourage benevolence and empathy among all people. In addition, we embrace practical common sense and justice. As Satanists we all should be guided by our conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by our individual wills. We believe that this is the hope of all mankind and the highest aspiration of humanity."
Earlier this summer, the Satanic Temple controversially staged a "Pink Mass" ritual on the grave of the mother of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Jr., intending to "make her spirit gay."
"The Satanic Temple now believes that Fred Phelps must believe that his mother is now gay, in the afterlife, due to our Pink Mass … And nobody can challenge our right to our beliefs," Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said at the time.