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Nativity banned from public land in Santa Monica, CA

December 21, 2012

nxvxixtxySanta Monica bans public Christmas displays; Churches  sue

Christians and atheists have been clashing for the past three years over Christmas displays on public land in Santa Monica. Last June the Santa Monica City Council voted to ban all private, unattended displays in city parks. In response, a coalition of 13 churches, the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, sued, saying the ban violated their right to free speech.

Each year since 1953, the coalition has set up Nativity scenes along Ocean Avenue at Palisades Park. Three years ago, atheist Damon Vix challenged that tradition. He applied for and was granted his own booth and set up a sign that read, “Religions are all alike—founded on fables and mythologies.”

The next year, Vix did the same thing.

Then in 2011, he and other atheists flooded the city with requests for booths. In a lottery held by the city they won 18 of the 21 spaces, a Jewish group won another space, and the traditional 14-scene diorama of the birth of Jesus was crammed into the remaining two spaces.

The atheists put up anti-religion signs and a banner that read, in part, “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

The banner was ripped down and most of the signs were vandalized.

Because of the uproar, the City Council put an end to the nearly 60-year Nativity scene tradition, which had earned the city the nickname, the City of the Christmas Story.

The coalition asked the court to require the city to allow Nativity scenes, but a federal judge denied their request.

“The atheists won on this,” said William J. Becker Jr., an attorney for the coalition.

To read more, see here
Santa Monica bans public Christmas displays; Christians sue

Christians and atheists have been clashing for the past three years over Christmas displays on public land in Santa Monica. Last June the Santa Monica City Council voted to ban all private, unattended displays in city parks. In response, a coalition of 13 churches, the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, sued, saying the ban violated their right to free speech.

Each year since 1953, the coalition has set up Nativity scenes along Ocean Avenue at Palisades Park. Three years ago, atheist Damon Vix challenged that tradition. He applied for and was granted his own booth and set up a sign that read, “Religions are all alike—founded on fables and mythologies.”

The next year, Vix did the same thing.

Then in 2011, he and other atheists flooded the city with requests for booths. In a lottery held by the city they won 18 of the 21 spaces, a Jewish group won another space, and the traditional 14-scene diorama of the birth of Jesus was crammed into the remaining two spaces.

The atheists put up anti-religion signs and a banner that read, in part, “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

The banner was ripped down and most of the signs were vandalized.

Because of the uproar, the City Council put an end to the nearly 60-year Nativity scene tradition, which had earned the city the nickname, the City of the Christmas Story.

The coalition asked the court to require the city to allow Nativity scenes, but a federal judge denied their request.

“The atheists won on this,” said William J. Becker Jr., an attorney for the coalition.

To read more, see here

  
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