Festivus Pole Set Up in Florida Capitol
“This whole thing is just a serious feat of … ridiculousness.”
A Florida man “aired his grievances” on Wednesday morning when he marched into Florida’s state capitol building with a 6-foot pole made of PVC pipe and a case of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans.
The Festivus pole, celebrating the fake holiday Festivus from the hit show “Seinfeld,” is the latest protest of the Nativity scene set up in the rotunda last week.
According to Yahoo News, Chaz Stevens heard about the Nativity scene and applied to the state to install his own display: the PVC pole covered in beer cans.
“What’s the point? There is no point. It’s ridiculous. This is the most ridiculous thing I could come up with,” said Stevens, an atheist. “This is about the separation of church and state.The government shouldn’t be in this business of allowing the mixture of church and state.”
Florida has designated the rotunda area inside the Capitol buidling as a “public forum.”
“They’re not going to be allowed to discriminate. It’s going to be a public forum for all forms of speech and expression and displays,” said Howard Simon of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Along with the Festivus pole and the Navity scene is a banner advocating for the separation of church and state from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. Florida even has a pending application from a group called the Satanic Temple. In other words, these public forums tend to become free-speech “battle zones.”
Andrew Seidel of the Freedom From Religion Foundation said, “When a religious group seeks to co-opt the power and the prestige of the government for their religious message, the best way to dilute that co-opting of the power and prestige is to put up our own message.”
Seidel’s foundation’s banner at the Capitol says “Happy Winter Solstice” with a drawing of the Founding Fathers and Statue of Liberty worshipping a baby Bill of Rights.
“We are taking a stand for Christ in Christmas,” said Pam Olsen, Florida Prayer Network Director, “a stand for truth and religious freedom, and what better place to do this than the heart of our state government?” Olsen said.
The Chicago-based group that sponsored Olsen’s celebration aims to put a Nativity at every state Capitol in America.
“I’ll see all 50 Capitols then,” Stevens says. “Why not? Sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon.”
“Festivus for the rest of us” is a non-secular holiday made up by George Costanza’s father, Frank, on the television show “Seinfeld” after he became fed up with the commercialism of Christmas. Instead of a Christmas tree, Frank puts up a plain aluminum pole — with no ornaments.
“I believe in prayer and you know what? I’ve been praying for you. I mean that sincerely, Chaz,” Olsen said. “As a Christian, I have the Nativity because it’s Christ in Christmas. And you have the right to have the beer cans here.”
A theological discussion followed and ended with Stephens laughing.
“You know what I’m praying for next year?” he said, gesturing to the manger scene. “I’m going to pray that they get rid of that thing.”
No word yet on whether Florida accepted the Satanic Temple application.
image via: Wikimedia Commons