A few years back, Florida passed a law allowing religious displays in public buildings. The legislators' idea, as you might imagine, was mangers and crosses at Christmastime. But under the letter of the law, all religions had to be invited to the table, which has led to the delightful sight of Flying Spaghetti Monsters and Festivus poles made from beer cans in the Florida State Capitol.
This year, for the first time, it also led to a holiday display from the Satanic Temple. Well, it sure didn't take long for someone to vandalize the display. A woman was promptly arrested on Tuesday for wrecking the Satanists work.
"It comes as no surprise that a disturbed individual may take to destructive action while imagining herself to hold the unassailable high-ground," Doug Mesner AKA "Lucien Greaves," a spokesman for the group, writes to Orlando Weekly in a long response to the vandalism.
The vandal has been ID's as Susan Hemeryck, a 54-year-old. "It's just wrong, when you remove baby Jesus two days before Christmas and put Satan in his place -- that just can't happen. I couldn't allow it to happen," Hemeryck tells Yahoo News. "I was there at the right time and the right moment and I needed to take a stand against Satan."
Mesner's group, in case you couldn't tell from the cheeky display and overboard response to Orlando Weekly, aren't really hardcore Satanists. They're actually a satirical group aimed at poking holes in the state's laws to reestablish separations between church and state.
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The group first tried to put up a display in the capitol last year -- alongside a manger, the Festivus pole and the Spaghetti Monster -- but were rebuffed as "offensive." Backed by threats of legal action, though, they were allowed in this year.
Supportive groups including the Americans United for Separation of Church and State also condemned the vandalism.
"This act of mindless vandalism should be condemned by all decent people and all those who support true freedom of religion," they wrote in a statement. "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."