A pentagram that was erected at a Florida public park next to a Christmas display has been destroyed by vandals for good this time, according to the Boca Raton Police Department. The pentagram has been standing next to a nativity scene since earlier this month when the man behind the satanic symbol — a language arts teacher at Boca Raton Community Middle School — got permission from the city. Overnight on December 20, someone ran over and destroyed the pentagram, and now parents are calling for the public school teacher, Preston Smith, to be fired.
A spokesman for the Boca Raton Police Department, Mark Economou, says the recent vandalism of the inverted pentagram is being investigated, reports Snopes. The “10-foot-tall red pentagram” had stood in the Florida park for nearly two weeks before an angry resident knocked it down and ran it over. Residents of Boca Raton, Florida, say the satanic symbol angers them, and the pentagram has been vandalized several times since Smith erected it on December 7 at Sanborn Square.
According to the Daily Mail on December 8, Smith received a permit from the city to display the “ridiculous” and “offensive” pentagram next to the nativity scene at the Sanborn Square Park. The mayor of Boca Raton, a city in the southern part of Palm Beach County, Florida, said the 300-pound metal pentagram, which also had a Freedom from Religion Foundation banner next to it, might have been offensive, but it was “constitutionally allowed.” The city has reportedly allowed several other religious displays to go up in the Florida park, including a menorah, the nativity scene, and a sign denouncing the pentagram.
The Boca Raton mayor and clergy assoc denounced the pentagram as hateful and bad for the city's spiritual well-being. But others embrace it pic.twitter.com/T5gRdsTaWi— Charlie Keegan (@CKeeganWPTV) December 7, 2016
An officer patrolling Sanborn Square on the night of December 20 found the smashed pentagram on the ground around 2 a.m. with tire marks around it. CBS News reports that the pentagram was “severely damaged” when vandals pulled it to the ground by a chain attached to a vehicle, yanked it off of its stand, ran it over, and dragged it several feet, leaving it in a twisted mess. According to the report, two passersby actually pushed the pentagram back onto its base.
Sitting about 20 feet away from the nativity scene, the pentagram was supposed to represent atheists and was erected by Smith, who’s a member of the Satanic Temple, a group that allegedly does not worship any deity, but promotes the separation of church and state. Satanic Temple members are known for going around and challenging Christian monuments and symbols that are displayed publicly, which explains the purpose of the pentagram displayed next to the traditional Christmas nativity scene. Members also allegedly believe that Christian beliefs should not be “forced” on the public. According to the Satanic Temple founder, Lucien Greaves, the city of Boca Raton opened up Sanborn Square — a public ground — as “an open forum for free speech.”
The Satanic Temple has also been responsible for launching religious public school programs for after-school, including the After School Satan Club, and now worried parents want Smith to be fired from teaching at the middle school. WPTV out of West Palm Beach reports that the president of the parent-teacher association at the Boca Raton Community Middle School, Kim Bremer, does not want Smith to continue teaching at the school, saying “a teacher we entrust our children with should not be putting a sign like this anywhere.”
Smith’s pentagram display allegedly told children to “hail Satan,” a message that Bremer says a middle school teacher should not be spreading. However, the Superintendent, Dr. Robert Avossa, refuses to dismiss Smith for “expressing himself outside of school,” but says he understands parents’ concerns, adding that he will answer any questions about Smith and the pentagram as they come up.
Since the pentagram isn’t the first satanic activity that Smith has reportedly participated in, many parents are now asking that their children be moved to another language arts teacher, while other parents are drafting a petition to have Smith removed from teaching.
Smith, on the other hand, says that students are usually more tolerant and respectful than most adults. Smith goes on to say that students are also usually “more educated on diversity” than most adults, and they know not to discuss the pentagram display on the school campus. Smith also believes that the nativity scene is just as offensive as the pentagram he erected in the Florida park, adding that both Satan and God are fictional characters with no verifiable scientific evidence to support them.
[Featured Image by Terry Spencer/AP Images]