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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Olympia

Religious display requests include one for The Flying Spaghetti Monster…

After a bizarre week -- a stolen atheist sign, a nativity scene constructed on the spot out of dozens of long balloons, the "Santa will take you to hell" sign -- applications for additional holiday displays at the statehouse continue to roll in.

A Kansas group, the KC Free Thinkers, now wants permission to put up a display celebrating a tongue-in-cheek deity named The Flying Spaghetti Monster.

In a similar vein, an Olympia man wants to erect a celebratory pole to honor the holiday Festivus, which was invented as part of a Seinfeld TV show episode in the late 1990s.

More serious is the application from a Bellevue mother named Mary Bernard. She's a longtime friend of a Catholic nun, Mother Antonia Brenner, who runs a prison ministry in Tijuana, Mexico.

Brenner heard of the controversy over the atheist sign – which declares that there are no gods, devils or angels – and asked Bernard to put up a “goodwill message.”

“To the Atheist Community,” the 30-inch by 40-inch sign would read. “May all be blessed with Joy and Happiness. We share with you our Peace and Love and Kindness. The Christian Community.”

Bernard said she hopes that common sense will prevail in the growing tussle among holiday displays.

“I know it's real volatile,” she said. “When it comes to their faith, people are real passionate about it.”

She said Brenner's message attempts to skirt that tension.

“She knows it's not about demonstrating or taking any kind of side,” Bernard said. “It's just to say we wish you joy and peace and kindness.”

Bonus round: One of the most interesting turns of phrase to emerge in this debate has been Sen. Pam Roach's Old-Testament-sounding description of the atheist sign: the placard of unbelievers.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.