The Florida town of Deerfield Beach banned holiday displays on city-owned land earlier this year, in a move that many believed was a sign of secularization. Now the city has put up a last-minute Nativity, without other faiths getting equal opportunity for a display.
In October, Deerfield officials said the Nativity that usually appears at Fire Station No. 1 on Deerfield Beach wouldn’t be there this year.
Local pastors were outraged by the announcement.
"If you read the Bible, it says that leading up to the end days things like this will happen," Pastor Jeremy Earnest of First Baptist Deerfield Beach told the Sun Sentinel. "People will be against His name. Pulling Christ out of Christmas, pulling Him out of it, it confirms more and more of what He taught about 2,000 years ago."
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"It doesn't surprise me, given the secularization of society," said Pastor Dave Gregg of the New Life Church in Deerfield Beach. "It's disappointing, but it's not surprising. You hear about this kind of thing all the time now, and it's sad."
City Attorney Andrew Maurodis said the point of the ban is that it "means the city doesn't have to make choices about what kinds of displays to allow."
Officials must have changed their minds because a Nativity is now on display in Deerfield Beach, and atheist Chaz Stevens, maker of the Festivus pole of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans in the Florida State Capitol, says he plans to sue.
"People don't f--king learn?" Stevens says in a video of the Nativity he uploaded to Youtube. "Told you I was gonna sue."
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He criticizes the display and makes spitting noise on the video.
"This is about the separation of church and state," Stevens said.
The Florida State Capitol accepts applications for holiday displays and just denied a request for a kiosk from The Satanic Temple. Stevens Festivus pole and a display of the Flying Spaghetti Monster appear alongside the Capitol's Nativity.
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