If you can't beat 'em in the so-called war on Christmas, join 'em. The Satanic Temple will be allowed to set up displays alongside planned Nativity scenes at two state capitols this holiday season.
In Tallahassee, Fla., the Satanic Temple plans to erect a diorama inside the capitol rotunda depicting an angel falling into the flaming pit of hell, along with two Bible verses and the words "Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple."
The New York-based group had sought legal advice on the placement of its display from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a non-partisan organization that threatened a lawsuit unless Florida's Department of Management Services agreed to allow the holiday display to go up beside its Christian counterpart.
"In a nation that respects religious liberty, viewpoint discrimination is simply intolerable," Lucien Greaves, spokesman for the Satanic Temple, said in a statement to the Tallahassee Democrat. "For that reason, we feel our holiday display sends a very important, affirmative message that goes above and beyond that of superficial season's greetings."
The American Atheists, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will also have displays in the Florida capitol.
In Lansing, Mich., meanwhile, the Satanic Temple will set up a display that includes a cross, a red snake, and a message that reads "the greatest gift is knowledge," on the capitol lawn, though a Nativity scene may be nowhere in sight.
After approving an application for a temporary Nativity, the Michigan State Capitol Commission also gave the satanists the green light for their own display from Dec. 21 to 23.
"We are restricted by the Constitution and bound by the Constitution to recognize their First Amendment rights," John Truscott, a member of the Commission told MLive.com. "We don’t have the ability to reject them if they meet the guidelines of the Capitol."
State regulations, however, require that each display be taken down each night, and the man who had applied for permission to set up the Nativity scene lives outside of Michigan, MLive.com reported.
"He's out-of-state, and he has not found anyone who could put it up and take it down yet, so there’s really been nothing to approve, in terms of the size and specifications," said Truscott.
So, while Florida's capitol will showcase a wide variety of holiday displays, Michigan could be stuck with Satan.