Another day, another nativity scene drama. Atheists are mounting a full-out war on Christmas in Santa Monica, California -- or so say those who support an annual, Christian-theme display.
For the first time in nearly six decades, there may be no "The Christmas Story" nativity scene in Santa Monica's Palisades Park. Each year, a giant two-block long display offers visitors 14 nativity scenes that are presented in life-size form. But atheists, who are likely seeking to replace these images, are on the offensive.
This year, non-believers have reportedly vied for the open display spaces and, as a result, they have taken over much of the space that would be used for the nativity scene. The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, which organizes the annual nativity scene, isn't happy about what its members see as an attempt to co-opt Christmas. They've apparently been left with three, small spaces.
“This has been a city tradition for nearly 60 years,” said Hunter Jameson, the committee's chair. “These new groups applying for permits aren’t even Santa Monica residents, and they are just derogatory to organized religions.”
Jameson believes that these images come from one group of people and it is being reported that they include images of devils. According to The LookOut, he has prepared a response:
Jameson...is not giving up so easily. He feels that City rules have been manipulated to prevent “a month long, time-honored tradition supported by 14 Santa Monica-based organizations representing thousands of local residents.”
He has organized a nonprofit group called Santa Monica Nativity Scenes and formed a campaign drive to “Save Our Nativity Scenes,” urging like-minded residents to petition City Council members and the city manager’s office to allocate adequate space for all 14 Nativity scenes in the park next year.
One man, a Hollywood prop maker named Damon Vix, who applied for a permit last year out of frustation at the "offensive Nativity display," is displaying an alleged Thomas Jefferson quote this year -- “religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies.”
The Santa Monica Daily Press wrote the following about Vix's 2010 display, which has apparently emboldened other non-believers to join him this year in trying to boot the nativity scene out:
The Hollywood prop maker is the man behind a display that can be found just south of the nativity scenes that features quotes from the founding fathers about the importance of the separation of church and state. A quote from President Thomas Jefferson is by far the most visible. It reads: "Religions are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies." On the back of the display there's another sign that says: "Happy Solstice," in recognition of the winter solstice on Dec. 21.
Vix is on a mission. The atheist (who is apparently also an ordained minister) is against promoting religion on public property, so he's setting out to cause a bit of chaos this year.
“There is a growing secular community in this country that has kept quiet for too long. If they want to display Nativity scenes on church property, that’s fine," he said. "I don’t have a problem with Christmas, if it’s Santa Claus and elves, but there are a lot of people who live in Santa Monica who are not Christians.”
This year, more than a dozen permits were submitted for space in the park, so the city has put together a lottery system to allocate them -- which means, they were selected at random. This, of course, means that the nativity scene won't get the space it has traditionally had. With atheists competing for the space, it means that there's less to be allocated for the massive Christian display.
The city cannot designate space for or against a display based on its content, so a random selection is the only way the city can legally go. "Though the City can designate particular space… for winter displays and prohibit displays in other park space, it cannot favor one speaker or message over another,” City Attorney Marsha Moutrie explained.
Vix, who doesn't believe that faith displays belong on public land, thinks that the nativity scene discriminates against non-Christians. In his world, he's doing a public service. In the eyes' of others, he's hampering their right to celebrate the holiday season.
Yesterday, the Blaze also reported on atheists who are demanding that a nativity scene be taken down in Texas. The purported War on Christmas rages on.
(H/T: The LookOut News)