Christian group compares middle school teacher’s free speech display to KKK intimidation efforts
The Christian advocacy group Liberty Counsel, compared a satanic display erected at a Boca Raton, Florida park to intimidation efforts by the Ku Klux Klan, The Palm Beach Post reports.
Middle School Teacher Preston J. Smith erected the pentagram display two weeks ago in Boca Raton’s Sunburn Square—a designated “free speech” zone— in an effort to “call out Christian hypocrisy and bias in taxpayer-funded public arenas, while pushing for the separation of church and state.”
Smith acquired the proper permits for the pentagram, which he positioned between a nativity scene and Christmas tree. According to police, vandals toppled his display Wednesday night.
“This experiment successfully exposed what local religious folks are—paranoid, uber-sensitive cowards afraid of the changing demographics,” Smith the the Palm Beach Post.
“This is basically about equal rights and testing free speech,” he said. “At the core, this is a social experiment.”
In its letter, Liberty Counsel said the display is similar to the KKK’s placement of crosses on public property, insisting, the pentagram, “like the KKK’s actions, were ‘protected speech.’” The group also issued a public record request for Smith’s school district email to find references to “satan,” “Christian” and “atheism” in an effort to expose whether the teacher communicated about his beliefs while at work.
Smith remains adamant he does not let his personal beliefs seep into his professional life. “I do not promote my personal beliefs in the classroom, nor do I disparage any child’s faith,” he told the Post.
In a separate letter, Liberty Counsel offered legal representation to Boca Raton should the city choose to remove the display. City spokeswoman Chrissy Gibson said they “are in receipt of the letter but do not have any plans to remove the display at this time.”
Smith told the Post he plans to keep the pentagram in Sunburn Square, despite the vandalism.
Liberty Counsel, which in the past has fought against same-sex marriage and a ban on conversation therapy, is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a legal organization advocating for anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of religious liberty.”
Watch the video below, via WPTV News:
(Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly said Liberty Counsel compared to the display to the KKK’s placement of crosses on “African American’s property.”)