Satanic Temple gets permission for holiday display in Capitol Rotunda; Festivus Pole also likely to return

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The Festivus Pole will return to the Florida Capitol Rotunda once its creator selects a seven-day period for it to be displayed. Chaz Stevens erected the 6-foot pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans and PVC pipe last Christmas season after a Christian group placed a Nativity scene near the Capitol’s front door.

“This is about separation of church and state,” Stevens said at the time. “The government shouldn’t be in this business of allowing the mixture of church and state.”

Stevens had incorrectly filled out the application selecting a display period from Nov. 26 through Jan. 5. The Department of Management Services this year is limiting displays to a seven-day period. DMS spokesman Ben Wolf said the Festivus Pole is acceptable and approval is pending Stevens selecting a one-week period.

A group blocked from placing a display at the Capitol last year received approval Wednesday. DMS had ruled the 2013 submission was “grossly offensive” when denying an application. It protested in letters but did not file a lawsuit. Wednesday DMS approved a display from the Satanic Temple of Florida for the week of December 22 – 29.

Displays are allowed inside the Florida Capitol building because the state has designated the Rotunda as a public forum. Department of Management Services reviews applications for displays and ensures they do not impede traffic or block permanent displays and are limited to 6-feet in height.

In addition to a Festivus Pole and the Satanic Temple’s diorama of a figurine descending into flames DMS Wednesday approved applications from The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Florida Prayer Network, International House of Prayer Tallahassee and the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation gets to decorate the Rotunda first; its week long display of a portrait featuring Happy Winter Solstice will run from December 8 – 15.