Every December, the Florida Capitol Rotunda is ripe with uncommon holiday displays — and this year is no exception, with “Fauci Claus” appearing in the capitol building as a strange ode to the 2021 holiday season.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Inspired by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the public health official at the center of America’s COVID-19 response, “Fauci Claus” is a giant placard featuring the famed immunologist in a red suit and Santa hat; he’s holding what WCTV-TV described as a Festivus Pole (a display associated with the faux, “Seinfeld”-inspired holiday of “Festivus”).
The Santa-themed Fauci placard is joined by “The Grim Carlson,” a cardboard cutout of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson adorned in garb unmistakably tied to the deathly and diabolical Grim Reaper.
The curious display is the work of the so-called Mount Jab Church, Holy Church of the Vaccinated, and Chaz Stevens, the purportedly self-described “archbishop” of this cohort and an activist who focuses on issues pertaining to the separation of church and state.
“Fauci Claus is our way of thanking the good doc for keeping countless people worldwide alive during the pandemic,” Stevens told WCTV-TV.
The activist also pushed back against those opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine on his website.
“As atheists, it’s amusing to hear suggestions that somehow the vaccinated are ‘not real Christians,'” a description reads. “This ‘faith’ dogma, this cult-like belief in not getting the jab, is biblically satanic.”
According to the Mount Jab Church website, the display could soon be in the “halls of Congress” and WCTV-TV reported one was even sent to Fox News.
The Florida Capitol Rotunda has often become a hotbed of controversy surrounding holiday displays.
While a traditional nativity has often graced the location, chaos broke out in 2013, when The Satanic Temple decided to also post a cardboard display featuring an angel falling into hell.
At first, officials rejected its presence, but leaders relented based on the fact that the rotunda is a public forum — a space located inside of a public building and must, thus, accommodate different beliefs and ideals.
Soon, other atheists and individuals devoted to the separation of church and state countered the traditional nativity with similar displays. In addition to Fauci Claus, Stevens has also placed Festivus Poles in the capitol.
NPR has in the past called these responses to the Christian nativity “protest exhibits” — an appropriate title considering what Stevens and others have said about the nativity’s presence in the government building.
“This is about separation of church and state,” Stevens told NPR back in 2013. “The government shouldn’t be in this business of allowing the mixture of church and state.”
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