A Florida man’s plan to display a gay-pride themed "Festivus" pole at the Oklahoma State Capitol has angered a group of Oklahoma lawmakers.
Festivus, a "holiday for the rest of us," is a secular/agnostic holiday created following an episode of Seinfeld that aired in the 1990s. A 'Festivus Pole' is set to go on display Wednesday in the Capitol rotunda. The pole will be wrapped in the colors of the gay pride flag and topped with a disco ball.
According to a news release, the group of lawmakers said the Florida man, Chaz Stevens, is making a mockery of Christmas by displaying the six-foot pole made of aluminum, which has a very high strength-to-weight ratio.
"While a lot of us may have liked the Seinfeld series, this effort to mock the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, does not illustrate the best judgment of those who manage our state Capitol," said state Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia. "To Christians, the rainbow is God's promise not to destroy the earth again by flood, as found in Genesis 9:12-17. This sacrilegious symbol wrapped in the gay rights flag, is not respectful of God or the many visitors, including children, who arrive by the school-bus load during this time of year to celebrate the peace and joy and remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins."
Moore said the display, approved by the Office of Management Enterprise Services (OMES), is a slap in the face of every Christian in Oklahoma. According to an attorney representing OMES, the display, "met the criteria" for displays to be placed in the rotunda of the Capitol and that it is a matter of "free speech."
"Just because something meets the legal criteria, doesn't mean that it is wise to approve every request," said state Rep. David Brumbaugh, R- Broken Arrow. "This is just another example of the continued war on Christmas. The people who approved this should have exercised better judgment."
Many representatives said they have received angry calls from constituents who want the State Capitol to be free of displays or artwork that do not glorify God, said state Rep. Bobby Cleveland.
"In the most holiest of season for Christianity and Judaism, it is almost inconceivable that we could have a secular demonstration on the Capitol grounds," said Cleveland, R-Slaughterille. "While I certainly recognize and applaud the concept of free speech, this basically is a slap in the face of this most sacred season for the great majority of Oklahomans. After we have taken down the Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol grounds, I am certainly not endorsing the replacement with secular humanists to come and shove it in the face of Oklahomans."
"Americans are experiencing an increase in hostility and intolerance toward our Christian beliefs," said State Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw. "If Christians put up something antithetical to Islam, atheism, etc., during one of their most holy days, we would be attacked by the other group and there would be a demand to stop. It seems that we are free to be a Christian as long as we don't live out our faith, vote our faith, take a stand in relation to our faith or believe others should embrace our faith. I'm standing for my faith and Christianity. This gay pride symbol should not be allowed to stand. Oklahomans should be outraged and call on the gay symbol to be removed."
The lawmakers said they, and many of their colleagues, hope that the display will not be put up and that the administrative rules would be reviewed to encourage better judgment in the future.