A woman is in custody in connection with damaging the Satanic Temple holiday display at the Florida Capitol earlier today.
The diorama of an angel falling into a pit of fire is in the building’s lobby along with five other holiday displays. At this time, it’s unknown exactly how the display was damaged or the woman’s motive.
Samantha Andrews, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said the agency expects to make an arrest in the case.
In a statement, Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves said the following:
… Whatever the reasoning turns out to be behind the assault on our display, it is inappropriate to view it in the facile terms of Christianity vs. Satanism. The assault on our display, if thought to be done in favor of a Christian viewpoint, is more appropriately viewed as an assault upon religious pluralism and a rejection of Government viewpoint neutrality. It is a rejection of American constitutional values held dear by a large number of self-identified Christians — many of whom express support for The Satanic Temple’s right to religious freedom. It is time that the fundamentalists and religious radicals realize that they are the belligerent few, and we, who uphold the virtue pluralism, whatever our religious affiliations (or lack thereof), will not be silenced.
I’m not surprised it happened, but it would be nice to see some local Christian groups condemn the action unequivocally since they’re the reason this open forum is in the Capitol in the first place. This sort of vandalism would be unacceptable if it happened to a Nativity scene and it’s unacceptable now, too.
More on this story as details emerge.
***Update***: Well, at least the person who put up the Nativity scene condemned the vandalism:
Pam Olsen, who organized the manger display, said she doesn’t approve of the attack.
“I’m actually very sad that she felt motivated to do that,” Olsen said. “I do not like the display. I think it’s rude and it’s sad that he put it up to protest the nativity that means so much to millions of people, however I don’t think anyone should ever vandalize anything. Free speech is free speech whether we like it or not.”
Also, Americans United for Separation of Church and State released this statement:
“This act of mindless vandalism should be condemned by all decent people and all those who support true freedom of religion. It’s important to remember that free speech in an open forum is for all groups, even those whose message some deem controversial or unpopular.
“Our attorneys fought hard for our clients to win the right to display their diorama in the Capitol Rotunda, and we don’t intend to buckle under to this type of senseless destruction. We hope the display is quickly reassembled, and we call on authorities in Florida to prosecute the vandal to the full extent of the law.”