California Atheists Snap Up Nativity Spaces
Christians get just 2 of 21 spaces in Santa Monica park
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2011 5:00 AM CST
In Santa Monica this year, you'll be more likely to see a sign wishing you a Happy Solstice.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Santa Monica's Christians are crying foul over a lottery system that has left 18 of the 21 park spaces that usually hold Nativity scenes in the hands of atheists. A Jewish group snagged another spot, leaving the California city's church with just two spaces and only enough room to display three of the usual 14 scenes, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A local atheist who put up a display last year that included the Thomas Jefferson quote "Religions are all alike—founded on fables and mythologies"—says he encouraged other atheists to compete for other spaces this year. A spokesman for the city's churches accuses the atheists—who are mostly out-of-towners—of stifling their freedom of expression by conspiring to force out Nativity scenes.