Saturday, June 16, 2012

Atheists Force Ban on Nativity Scenes in Santa Monica

Angered by nearly 60 years of Christmas nativity scenes lining the street, last year the atheists forced the city council to enact a lottery for the spots on public property, but after the atheists won nearly every spot, erecting blasphemous displays, the city council voted unanimously to end all public displays.

"Both groups said their rights had been violated – the right to religious expression and the right to be free from religious speech." Where's THAT in the Constitution?!
For background, read Texans Fire Back in Atheists' War on Christmas and also read Baby Jesus Crashes White House After All

UPDATE 11/19/12: Judge rejects Christians' appeal

-- From "Nativity scenes banned at Santa Monica park after atheist dispute" by Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times 6/13/12

For nearly six decades, private, life-size scenes celebrating Jesus Christ's birth have been a fixture each December in [Palisades Park] that runs along the coastal bluffs. In recent years, displays have also celebrated the winter solstice and Hanukkah and have promoted atheism.

Last year, after requests for display space exceeded the space allotted, the city held a lottery to allocate slots fairly and legally. Atheists won 18 of the 21 plots. A Jewish group that sets up a menorah won another. The Nativity story that once took 14 displays to tell had to be crammed into two plots.

City Atty. Marsha Jones Moutrie told the council that the city had received expressions of concern about 1st Amendment issues, including letters from two "K Street" law firms, a reference to the Washington thoroughfare known for lobbyists. She also said city staff had received "threats, physical and legal." She added that the lottery would become increasingly costly and difficult to administer given the heated emotions surrounding the process. "Our research shows we can legally ban all unattended displays in parks," she said.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Nativity scenes no longer allowed in Palisades Park" by Kevin Herrera, Santa Monica Daily Press 6/14/12

Councilmember Gleam Davis said even if the council were to stick with the lottery system, there would never be a guarantee that the local churches would secure enough space to display all 14 nativity scenes, something which was a high priority for them. The lottery would have to remain open to all and city employees would not be allowed to discriminate based on an applicant's message.

No word as of yet if the committee behind the nativity scenes plans to challenge the council's decision.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Santa Monica Council Bans Holiday Displays" by Jason Islas, Staff Writer, The Lookout News 6/15/12

Frank Gruber, former columnist for The Lookout and a candidate for City Council, said the council's cautious approah would work against the goals of advancing free speech.

“If you decide to be neutral, to be fair, to ban all these expressions from the park, it'd be like Solomon being neutral by cutting the baby in half,” he said.

Some groups have urged the City [instead] to ban negative displays or signs that disparage a religion's beliefs, but City officials maintain such a ban would not be upheld in court.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Nativity Scenes At Palisades Park Banned" by Parimal M. Rohit, Staff Writer, Santa Monica Mirror 6/15/12

. . . irrespective of the decision council members would reach on the ordinance, someone could argue the final vote violated his or her First Amendment rights. On one side, prohibiting the nativity scenes in a public park was construed as a violation of the First Amendment religious freedoms. On the other side, allowing the status quo to remain with groups being allowed to erect religiously themed displays was also considered a violation of one’s First Amendment right to be free from religious themed speech.

Many believed the nativity scenes and other religious displays promoted community, opponents of the public display ban argued. But most importantly, the ordinance’s opponents viewed the ban as an infringement upon religious freedom and a form of fear.

“Being an American gives me the right as an individual apart from any religious preferences to live in a community of my choice with other people. It, however, doesn’t give me the right to persecute anyone else’s choices for themselves, which, to me, means despite the fact that I’m not Jewish, I don’t have the right to tell anyone they can’t display a Menorah,” Santa Monica resident Patrick Potter said.

“We shouldn’t let personal insecurities motivate hate-like behavior.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.