A man is erecting rainbow Festivus poles at state capitols across the U.S. and it’s all part of a (semi) organized plan to needle conservative America.
“We decided just to troll the living [explicative] out of America,” Chaz Stevens, the leader of the movement, told TIME.
From a base in south Florida, Chaz Stevens, thumbs his proverbial nose at religiosity through ridicule and mockery, in recent years often by displaying Festivus poles in public spaces to protest religious symbols on display during the holidays.
Festivus is a satirical secular holiday, popularized on Seinfeld, held around Christmas in which celebrants gather for traditions like “the airing of grievances” and demonstration of “feats of strength.” An aluminum pole is traditionally used in lieu of a Christmas tree.
Stevens got the attention of TIME in 2013 when he constructed a Festivus pole out of empty beer cans. This year, he and his small organization, known as the Humanity Fund, have erected rainbow Festivus poles (now made of PVC) in at least five state capitols plus a handful of municipalities, Stevens said. The poles are rainbow to celebrate advances made in 2015 by gay rights advocates—and to irritate anyone made uncomfortable by gay rights.
“What the hell are you so scared about?” he asked rhetorically in an interview with TIME. “It’s a six foot pole with a disco ball on top. If your god is so bothered by a six foot piece of PVC it’s time to find a new fella.”
Currently Stevens says he has Festivus poles erected at state capitols in Washington, Illinois, Georgia, Florida and one scheduled to go up Wednesday in Oklahoma, where a recent dispute over the display at the state capitol of the Ten Commandments resulted in the removal of the biblical statue as well as the non-placement of a planned nine-foot-tall, one ton bronze statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed idol adopted as a Satanic symbol by modern-day Satanists.
While officials in some places were accommodating, Stevens says elsewhere, in Arkansas for example, officials denied his request to display his rainbow Festivus pole. Next year he hopes to erect Festivus poles in as many state capitols as possible—“fifty in fifty” is the goal, he told TIME—as he pushes back against what he calls “Christian privilege.”
“Every time I give a dollar bill to a stripper I have to look at In God We Trust as I slide it into her garter belt,” he said. “It makes me nauseous.”