The city of Boca Raton is allowing religious groups to erect displays promoting their chosen religion at Sanborn Square, an area owned by the city. Included in the displays is a Satanic symbol. It honors Satan, former angel and enemy number one in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths. It turns out, some people in Boca Raton have a problem with the Satanic symbol displayed near a Christmas nativity scene.
The pentagram display was put up by Preston Smith. He obtained a permit to erect the display. The pentagram display is located near a nativity scene, depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Along with the pentagram is a banner provided by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The banner reads:
At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the Birth of the Unconquered Sun — the TRUE reason for the season. As Americans, let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion, without freedom FROM religion in government.
The first night the pentagram and accompanying banner were erected in Sanborn Square, someone armed with spray paint vandalized them. How surprising that someone or someones in Florida spray painted over a banner that promoted the Bill of Rights, one of our most treasured documents. I wonder, what offended them more: the Satanic symbol or the Bill of Rights?
They’re using a religious symbol and an inflammatory one at that, a Satanic symbol, to make their point. And we felt it was hypocritical and shameful.
Hypocritical and shameful? How so?
When asked about the vandalism, Pastor Sherman had this to say:
This was deliberately provocative and I’m not surprised it provoked a reaction even though I completely reject that reaction.
Sure. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the good Pastor Sherman had spray paint stains on his index fingers.
Preston Smith believes the act of vandalism is a hate crime. He issued the following statement:
I have filed a police report with BRPD for this hate crime, which only proves that religion and government don’t mix. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is offering a monetary reward for info leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s). FFRF is also sending replacement banners via overnight delivery. Freethinkers have been targeted for thousands of years by religious folks, although counter-viewpoints are becoming more visible as this nation’s demographics shift away from organized religion. We will not be silenced by the those who fear freedom of speech in America. We will not be persecuted by religious zealots intolerant of diverse viewpoints. We are not going away, but are instead ready to make this an annual tradition. The Constitution protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority. The mayor and city council should immediately take notice — public parks must be free from all ancient myths and superstitions in order to preserve the well-being of the community at large.
I agree with Preston Smith. It was a hate crime.
Our Founding Fathers might have been slave-owning assholes, but they were correct when it came to the First Amendment. I love a good nativity scene, but it has no place on taxpayer-funded property. If you’re going to allow religious displays on public land, you’re going to have to allow all religious displays.