By: Sharon Aron Baron
Deerfield Beach activist, Atheist and blogger Chaz Stevens who drove 450 miles to Tallahassee to place his Festivus pole at the State Capital today, was met with a horde of reporters and Pam Olsen, organizer of an adjacent Nativity scene.
According to the Huffington Post, Olsen told Stevens that she was going to pray for him. “I believe in prayer and you know what? I’ve been praying for you. I mean that sincerely, Chaz,” Olsen said. “As a Christian, I have the Nativity because it’s Christ in Christmas. And you have the right to have the beer cans here.”
Stevens laughed. A theological discussion followed, with Olsen talking about her faith and Stevens saying Jesus might as well be Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.
“You know what I’m praying for next year? I’m going to pray that they get rid of that thing,” Stevens said, gesturing to the manger scene.
The celebration also includes an “airing of grievances” during the family meal, in which each person describes disappointments experienced over the course of the year.
Stevens says when he heard about the Capitol Nativity scene, it was just too much. So he applied to the state to install his own display: a pole covered in beer cans.
“This is about separation of church and state,” Stevens says. “The government shouldn’t be in this business of allowing the mixture of church and state.”
The displays are allowed inside Florida’s Capitol building because the state has designated the rotunda as “a public forum.” Howard Simon of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says the state had no choice.
The Festivus pole will be on display at the Capital rotunda until January 3. After that time, Stevens will auction the pole on Ebay and donate the proceeds to “Women in Distress” charity.