This Year's Nativity Flap: the 'Atheists Won'
Judge's ruling will likely end 60-year Santa Monica tradition
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2012 6:01 AM CST
In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, a man walks past two of the traditional Nativity scenes along Ocean Avenue at Palisades Park in Santa Monica, Calif.   (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, file)

(Newser) – After almost 60 years of displaying Nativity scenes in a public park, Santa Monica Christians may be out of luck: A judge yesterday tentatively ruled to bar such scenes, and all other seasonal displays, from public spaces. The fight between the Christian groups and atheists began a few years back, when a local atheist started putting up his own booth next to the 14 scenes from the Biblical Christmas story that were erected in Palisades Park. Last year, he rallied other atheists to his cause, getting a bunch of them to apply for spaces in the park. Atheists won 18 of the 21 spaces and a Jewish group won the 19th, leaving the Nativity story to be squished into two.

Things didn't go smoothly—at least one atheist banner was vandalized—and this year, concerned over the increasing tension and cost of the lottery, the City Council voted in June to ban all unattended private displays in city parks. The coalition of churches behind the Nativity display put up a fight, hence yesterday's ruling; a final decision on Dec. 3 is also expected to go the same way, the Los Angeles Times reports. "The atheists won on this," says a lawyer for the coalition, who goes on to compare the city of Santa Monica to Pontius Pilate. But the city points out that the churches can still put up the displays on private property.

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Showing 3 of 111 comments
coolsmoothla
Nov 20, 2012 5:45 PM CST
[shakes head] There is no sound doctrine within today's Christianity. The Christians of old were taught to live separately by Jesus and His apostles. Forcing an unbeliever to believe is not sound doctrine ... as it is written: " Come out from among them and Be ye separate , says the Lord" ... " whosoever will, let him come " ... " give not that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast your pearls before swine lest they turn and rend you " ... Jesus The display should be on private property. The judge rendered a just verdict. I have no problem with living separately from unbelievers. However, atheists, also has a religion: education according to SCOTUS. http://atheism.about.com/od/churchstatemyths/a/SecularHumanismReligion.htm
zaphod
Nov 20, 2012 1:41 PM CST
Religion is like a penis. Its fine to have one. Its fine to be proud of it. But please don't whip it out in public and start waving it around. And Please don't try to shove it down our throats.
quersty
Nov 20, 2012 12:24 PM CST
This is a small group of militant atheists. Most atheists I know aren't bothered by a few nativity scenes.