First published in the Tallahassee Democrat December 20, 2013
At last, the state’s Department of Management Services — landlord to state-owned buildings far and wide and keeper of the gates at the Capitol — found something “grossly offensive.” The display that broke the bureaucrats’ backs was submitted by The Satanic Temple.
“To clarify, your application is declined,” according to the email rejection notification sent by an administrative assistant II. “The Department’s position is that your proposed display is grossly offensive during the holiday season.”
So, now we have a standard, I guess. A close reading suggests the possibility it could be approved for display during the legislative session.
Still, this whole Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster thing makes me really mad.
Surely you saw the news. This group of people who call themselves Pastafarians — I don’t know how you even define that, let’s just say they didn’t consult me about it — put up a display in the Capitol. They applied to the Department of Management Services and were approved, along with six other groups.
I can barely contain my anger. It’s my tax dollars that built and maintain the Capitol, a public place that should not be home to this foolishness with office chairs and noodles. It’s demeaning to my intelligence, feelings and faith.
Who are these people? Just because Pastafarians want to profess a personal belief expressed in what they choose to call scripture — “A closed mouth catches no noodly appendages,” ProvHerbs 3:27” — doesn’t mean that I have to believe it. But, now, I have to look at it in a public place.
Frankly, it offends me.
This Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is an affront. My Capitol — and it belongs to me as surely as it belongs to you — shouldn’t be in the business of serving as a forum for the particular, idiosyncratic beliefs of these people. It just shouldn’t. Everyone knows that. Why is this even an issue? Anyone can tell how patently absurd is the whole idea of the state sponsoring such a thing as this from these so-called Pastafarians. Someone needs to put a stop to this. Now.
I don’t want my kid to have to be confronted by this Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster view of the world. Look, I take care of my son’s spiritual life the way I see fit at home, and I don’t need the Capitol cluttered up with this Pastafarian pablum and their office chair.
Let’s take back the Capitol from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Let’s take back our freedom from Pastasfarians. Let’s take back our Constitution and throw out that office chair.
All of the above is absolutely true. It reflects my convictions precisely and entirely.
Here’s the funny thing, though: It also works if you change every single reference to Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to Florida Nativity Scene Committee. Also, switch out Christians every time I say Pastafarian. Finally, wherever it says office chair sub in Nativity scene. Go ahead, go back and read it. Do the ol’ switcheroo.
My words above still represent my opinion completely.
Now substitute Chabad Lubavitch of the Panhandle, Judaism and menorah where there’s a CotFSM, Pastafarian and office chair. Same difference for Reclaim Christmas for Christ, 3 Kings Day celebrants and Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.
Hades’ handbells, put in Chaz Stevens, “Seinfeld” fans and Festivus pole while you’re at it.
For those Christians who are offended by the atheists, “Seinfeld” fans, Satanists and Pastafarians: This is exactly what the Constitution aims to protect you from.
The state shouldn’t establish a forum for religious beliefs, including (or especially) those you find goofy, mocking or fictional. To accept that protection, though, you’ve got to extend it to others as well and be able to wrap your mind around the fact that not everyone agrees with you (note, even if you want to claim that a majority do).
There’s a perfectly good place for these displays. Your church. Your home.
Leave my Capitol out of it.