Pastafarians' Statue Displayed at Courthouse

What you can and cannot display on public property is a debate that sometimes ends in court.

In one East Tennessee city, there's usually no fight at all.

On the lawn of the century-old Cumberland County Courthouse, you see an Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers memorial, chainsaw-carved bears, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

"It's made out of materials we bought at Lowe's and local hardware stores, just piping and insulation and spray paint," explained David Safdie. He and his sister built the sculpture and installed it on the lawn last week.

Cumberland County granted them a permit to display it as members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They call themselves pastafarians.

"Our message is freedom of speech and freedom of religion," said Safdie. "We just wanted to have chance to represent our message."

Al and Patricia Westerfield also express their views on the lawn. They put up a Statue of Liberty as a response to another statue erected here in 2006.

"About two years ago, all the sudden a statue of Moses magically appeared right in front of the courthouse," said Al Westerfield. "We asked permission to put up a Statue of Liberty. Each month we change the statement on it: a quote from the presidents or even from Jesus about the separation of church and state."

The lawn has become a free speech zone with diverse views.

A carved statue of Jesus graces the courthouse lawn as well.

"It creates controversy, and that's a good thing," said Mary Leedy, a Crossville resident who sell hot dogs nearby.

Leedy welcomes all the lawn decorations, and sees the Jesus statue as a blessing.

"Everybody is moved differently by it, I think," she said. "And the people who are looking for offense will find it, is my philosophy."

The philosophy of Flying Spaghetti Monster supporters?

"We hope people see it and get a good laugh," said Safdie.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster will remain on the courthouse lawn until May 1st.


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