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- The Florida court case detailed in the Facebook post is a work of fiction. Some people appeared to recognize the satirical nature of the anecdote, but others seemed to believe it was a genuine court case.
"A Florida Court Sets Atheist Holy Day," read a March 29 Facebook post, detailing litigation centered on a plaintiff’s gripe that "Christians and Jews" have recognized holidays while atheists have none.
In a story narrated in the Facebook post, the Florida judge dismissed the case and explained that atheists, who do not believe in a deity, do have a holiday — April 1, or April Fools’ Day.
The anecdote was posted in a public group on Facebook called "Christians laugh too." It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Some people appeared to recognize the satirical nature of the anecdote, but others seemed to believe it was a genuine court case.
"I would laugh," one comment under the post said. "But it is sad that anyone would waste money or the courts time for such a frivolous. Lawsuit. God bless the judge."
"Fantastic ruling by a very smart Judge," another read.
Florida has, on occasion, made national headlines for odd measures associated with religion. In 2002, Carolyn Risher, then-mayor of a small municipality in Florida, issued a proclamation banning Satan from her town.
But as fact-checkers at Snopes reported in 2004, the Florida court case detailed in the Facebook post is a work of fiction.
The post provides no defining details that could be used to locate the case. No name is given for the plaintiff or the judge presiding over the supposed case, nor is a date range for the story provided.
It’s also unclear what the plaintiff would be attempting to accomplish by filing the lawsuit. Federal holidays can only be recognized by the U.S. Congress, and there are several observances that are not tied to religion, like Independence Day and Labor Day.
PolitiFact found no coverage by Florida newspapers of the event. But we did find that the facetious story has appeared on the internet numerous times in the past, dating back to at least 2001.
We rate this recycled hoax Pants on Fire!
Orlando Sentinel, Florida prisoner's lawsuit calls soy meals 'cruel and unusual' punishment, Nov. 6, 2011
USA Today, Yes, these are real. The best Florida Man headlines of 2019, Dec. 9, 2019
Facebook post, March 29, 2022
CNN, Florida town casts out Satan, Jan. 29, 2002
Snopes, Holiday for Atheists, April 5, 2004
Congressional Research Service, Federal Holidays: Evolution and Current Practices, July 1, 2021
Australian Trade & Shipping, Australia Jokes, Tales and Stories for March
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