Boca upholds free-expression displays including satanic pentagram
During a time when the nation is divided over Civil War memorials and displays of honor, Boca Raton is addressing another freedom of expression, religious holiday displays.
Sanborn Square, a Boca park located at 72 North Federal Highway, has a history of allowing religious displays placed by individuals or groups. Throughout the holiday season, you are likely to see nativity scenes, menorahs and other symbols in the free-expression zone.
In December 2016, a 10-foot satanic pentagram was added to collection of displays. The Boca Raton Community Middle School teacher who received permission from the city to erect the structure also added a banner that read: “May the children hail Satan.”
The move prompted area religious leaders to call the display offensive. The teacher countered the statements by claiming that the other displays were equally offensive.
He released this statement in December 2016, “May the Children Hail Satan” is an artistic expression of defiance toward the Sanborn Square nativity scene, which performs an annual reenactment of predatory indoctrination in a public park targeting young children before they have critical thinking skills. Satan and God are clearly both fictional characters devoid of any verifiable peer-reviewed scientific evidence.”
The pentagram was repeatedly vandalized and repaired, but the eighth-grade English teacher claimed he would be back with another display for the 2017 season.
Yesterday’s City Council meeting upheld a 1990 city law, which allows residents to contribute “unattended, expressive installations, displays, exhibits and similar objects” in an area of Sanborn Square park during the holiday season.
Many residents spoke in opposition to a ban on the displays. No one spoke out in favor of a ban.
Mayor Susan Haynie said they have received at least 30 applications for displays for the upcoming season. Though the city does not have a clear screening process, it does have limited space, which would mean that some size restrictions or a limitation on the number of allowed displays would need to be established.