A satanic religious display now graces the front lawn of City Hall: An upside-down cross that lights up in red when the sun goes down.
The 6-foot-tall black cross, the handiwork of atheist activist Chaz Stevens, went up Tuesday morning bearing the message: "In Chaz We Trust, All Others Pay Cash."
Stevens, a fierce proponent of the separation of church and state, won permission to display the cross after persistently reminding the city it allowed the display of a menorah, Christmas tree and Nativity scene during the holidays.
"Government has no right to be in the business of religion," said Stevens, of Jupiter. "Keep church out of state."
He plans to remove the cross on Friday.
"It's pretty tacky," he said Tuesday while snapping photos of his creation. "We were going for tacky. It's horrible looking. I love it."
Longtime resident Hubert Jackson, a deacon at Higher Vision Ministries in Hallandale Beach, plans to display a Christian cross next to the satanic one.
"I did not want people to think the city where I live is endorsing Satan," Jackson said. "I was given permission to put up a cross and I will do it in the morning to counter this satanic thing."
Commissioner Anthony Sanders, a minister, said he was worried people might think City Hall is endorsing satanic views.
"It's definitely going to give that impression," Sanders said. "It's going to offend some people."
City officials were quick to post a sign next to the cross saying it was privately installed as an expression of religious freedom and does not represent the views of the city's administration.
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper defended the display.
"Everyone is entitled to their religion no matter how offensive people may find it," Cooper said. "That's what our country is about, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. And you can't pick or choose."
Stevens is seeking permission to display a similar cross in Fort Lauderdale and Doral.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler declined to comment.
Stevens initially planned to use the phrase "In Satan We Trust," but said he decided "In Chaz We Trust" would be even more irritating.
For nearly two years, Stevens has tried to end prayer at public meetings by asking several local cities to allow him to perform a satanic prayer during commission meetings. In his requests, he cites a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that determined prayer is allowed at government meetings provided it applies to all religions.
Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Coral Springs and Delray Beach have all dropped prayer before government meetings to avoid the spectacle.