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War on Christmas 2012 Kicks Off! Christians Sue Santa Monica to Fight City's Atheist-Inspired Nativity Scene Ban

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"The city violated the First Amendment by denying religious speech in the park..."

Image Credit: Santa Monica Nativity Scenes

These days, there seems to be a "war" on practically everything. Women. Football. Terror. The list goes on. The term has become a political buzzword that's often used by one ideological collective against opponents to expose purported inequities. While the semantics surrounding these sociopolitical battles come and go in terms of their popularity and prominence, there's one "war" that pops up annually without fail -- the "War on Christmas."

If you're unfamiliar with this particular terminology, consider reading TheBlaze's recap of atheist and secularist-led attacks on nativities, crosses and other religious sentiments during the holiday season in 2011. But today, on October 11, 2012, we're announcing the official kick-off of the 2012 "War on Christmas" season (typically, the battle rages from October to December each year, with select cases continuing into the next year).

This year, the epic battle that marks the official start of the season surrounds an atheist-led crusade that actually dates back to the 2011 holiday season. The fight, over a large-scale nativity scene, commenced in Santa Monica, California, last year when non-believers successfully thwarted the display of the nearly six-decade-old nativity tradition.

Last fall, for the first time in 60 years, the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes committee was prevented from erecting its giant, two-block long display that offered visitors 14 life-size nativity-themed scenes. Atheists, who wanted to stop any and all religious sentiment in the park, complained about the Christian themes presented and the city subsequently decided to hold a lottery for the community as a whole to compete for spots.

Atheists seeking to erect "solstice greetings" to counter the Christmas story message ended up winning the majority of the spaces. This left the nativity display, which had previously spanned throughout the park, with only three tiny spots. But the drama didn't end there. In June, looking to avoid further controversy, the Santa Monica City Council voted to prevent any and all religious displays on public property.

"In a highly disappointing action, the Santa Monica City Council voted 5-0 June 12 to ban all December displays, including the Nativity Scenes and menorah, from Palisades Park," the Christian group wrote on its web site this summer.

This action essentially means that the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes organization would be banned from securing any of the spaces. Now, the Christian group is fighting back and seeking a temporary injunction -- and its members are willing to go to federal court to secure one. KCAL-TV has more:

Attorney William J. Becker Jr., who represents the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes committee, filed suit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday and called for the city to restore the nearly 60 year-old tradition.

“The city violated the First Amendment by denying religious speech in the park, which is a traditional public forum, so the complain seeks an order from the court declaring the city’s actions to be unconstitutional,” Becker said.

“It is not the government’s function to avoid controversy at the cost of fundamental rights. Indeed, the Supreme Court has firmly rejected this rationale for interfering with speech,” Becker wrote in a letter to the council on June 6.

Santa Monica Nativity Scenes hopes to be able to erect the Christmas display again this year if, indeed, an injunction is secured.

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