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Battle Over Coastal Christmas Display Goes to LA Court

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 http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20121118/US.Nativity.Scene.Atheists/?cid=hero_media

  

LOS ANGELES - Damon Vix didn't have to go to court to push Christmas out of the city of Santa Monica. He just joined the festivities.

The atheist's anti-God message alongside a life-sized nativity display in a park overlooking the beach ignited a debate that burned brighter than any Christmas candle.

Santa Monica officials snuffed the city's holiday tradition this year rather than referee the religious rumble, prompting churches that have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama for decades to sue over freedom of speech violations. Their attorney will ask a federal judge Monday to resurrect the depiction of Jesus' birth, while the city aims to eject the case.

"It's a sad, sad commentary on the attitudes of the day that a nearly 60-year-old Christmas tradition is now having to hunt for a home, something like our savior had to hunt for a place to be born because the world was not interested," said Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee that is suing.

Missing from the courtroom drama will be Vix and his fellow atheists, who are not parties to the case. Their role outside court highlights a tactical shift as atheists evolve into a vocal minority eager to get their non-beliefs into the public square as never before.

National atheist groups earlier this year took out full-page newspaper ads and hundreds of TV spots in response to the Catholic bishops' activism around women's health care issues and are gearing up to battle for their own space alongside public Christmas displays in small towns across America this season.

"In recent years, the tactic of many in the atheist community has been, if you can't beat them, join them," said Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and director of the Newseum's Religious Freedom Education Project in Washington. "If these church groups insist that these public spaces are going to be dominated by a Christian message, we'll just get in the game - and that changes everything."

In the past, atheists primarily fought to uphold the separation of church and state through the courts. The change underscores the conviction held by many nonbelievers that their views are gaining a foothold, especially among young adults.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study last month that found 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the last five years. Atheists took heart from the report, although Pew researchers stressed that the category also encompassed majorities of people who said they believed in God but had no ties with organized religion and people who consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious."

"We're at the bottom of the totem pole socially, but we have muscle and we're flexing it," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. "Ignore our numbers at your peril."

The trouble in Santa Monica began three years ago, when Vix applied for and was granted a booth in Palisades Park alongside the story of Jesus Christ's birth, from Mary's visit from the Angel Gabriel to the traditional crèche.

Vix hung a simple sign that quoted Thomas Jefferson: "Religions are all alike -- founded on fables and mythologies." The other side read "Happy Solstice." He repeated the display the following year but then upped the stakes significantly.

In 2011, Vix recruited 10 others to inundate the city with applications for tongue-in-cheek displays such as a homage to the "Pastafarian religion," which would include an artistic representation of the great Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The secular coalition won 18 of 21 spaces. The two others went to the traditional Christmas displays and one to a Hanukkah display.

The atheists used half their spaces, displaying signs such as one that showed pictures of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa Claus and the devil and said: "37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What myths do you see?"

Most of the signs were vandalized and in the ensuing uproar, the city effectively ended a tradition that began in 1953 and earned Santa Monica one of its nicknames, the City of the Christmas Story.

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee argues in its lawsuit that atheists have the right to protest, but that freedom doesn't trump the Christians' right to free speech.

"If they want to hold an opposing viewpoint about the celebration of Christmas, they're free to do that - but they can't interfere with our right to engage in religious speech in a traditional public forum," said William Becker, attorney for the committee. "Our goal is to preserve the tradition in Santa Monica and to keep Christmas alive."

The city doesn't prohibit churches from caroling in the park, handing out literature or even staging a play about the birth of Jesus and churches can always set up a nativity on private land, Deputy City Attorney Jeanette Schachtner said in an email.

The decision to ban the displays also saves the city, which had administered the cumbersome lottery process used to award booths, both time and money while preserving the park's aesthetics, she said.

For his part, Vix is surprised - and slightly amused - at the legal battle spawned by his solitary act but doesn't plan anything further.

"That was such a unique and blatant example of the violation of the First Amendment that I felt I had to act," said the 44-year-old set builder. "If I had another goal, it would be to remove the `under God' phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance - but that's a little too big for me to take on for right now."

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and religion, but also states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." That has been interpreted by courts as providing for separation of church and state, barring government bodies from promoting, endorsing or funding religion or religious institutions.

by on Nov. 19, 2012 at 7:29 AM
Replies (411-420):
GoodPenny
by on Nov. 21, 2012 at 11:00 PM

Like a penny yes...but a lucky one!

I will always turn up...can't get rid of me.

Oh and I proved I was right about what you said about Christians.

Did you see that yet? 

See, I was correct about you, you aren't that hard to decipher.

Quoting romalove:

Ahhh, not in the least.

And I see you have turned up again, like a bad penny....


Quoting GoodPenny:

 


Quoting prommy:


 


Quoting romalove:


 


Quoting prommy:


 


Quoting GoodPenny:

It's not just you. She has been that way with me as well in this post. She claims to be in a inter faith marriage, and is tolerant of the Christian faith because she has a genuine gold plated ornament of the nativity that she allows her husband to put on the tree every year lol!!

Quoting prommy:


 


Quoting romalove:

You are not the arbiter of acceptable messages.


Quoting prommy:


 



Quoting romalove:



 



Quoting prommy:







Quoting prommy:



 







Quoting prommy:




 







Quoting prommy:





 










 

Are you this snotty to everyone or is it just me you don't like? This is a forum to share ideas, you have taken several opportunities to dump on my comments. Take a pill Roma, I get to have an opinion just like you do.




laughing


 Another shining example of a good Christian. 


You're not the arbiter of what makes a good Christian.


clappingOuch!! That one had to sting a little Roma LMBO!!! 


romalove
by Roma on Nov. 21, 2012 at 11:02 PM

 

Quoting GoodPenny:

Like a penny yes...but a lucky one!

I will always turn up...can't get rid of me.

Oh and I proved I was right about what you said about Christians.

Did you see that yet? 

See, I was correct about you, you aren't that hard to decipher.

Quoting romalove:

Ahhh, not in the least.

And I see you have turned up again, like a bad penny....


Quoting GoodPenny:

 


Quoting prommy:


 


Quoting romalove:


 


Quoting prommy:


 


Quoting GoodPenny:

It's not just you. She has been that way with me as well in this post. She claims to be in a inter faith marriage, and is tolerant of the Christian faith because she has a genuine gold plated ornament of the nativity that she allows her husband to put on the tree every year lol!!

Quoting prommy:


 


Quoting romalove:

You are not the arbiter of acceptable messages.


Quoting prommy:


 



Quoting romalove:



 



Quoting prommy:







Quoting prommy:



 







Quoting prommy:




 







Quoting prommy:





 










 

Are you this snotty to everyone or is it just me you don't like? This is a forum to share ideas, you have taken several opportunities to dump on my comments. Take a pill Roma, I get to have an opinion just like you do.




laughing


 Another shining example of a good Christian. 


You're not the arbiter of what makes a good Christian.


clappingOuch!! That one had to sting a little Roma LMBO!!! 

 

 No, Danielle, you proved nothing.

I answered you.  It's in another post in this thread.

That Christians in general believe something or are taught something about people who don't believe burning in hell has no bearing on how I have interacted or experienced Christians in my real life.

Online, I have met a few too many like you, but luckily, even online, I have met some lovely people and I cling to them as the real Christians.

GoodPenny
by on Nov. 21, 2012 at 11:21 PM

 

This is what you said in response to a comment about where a poster said Christians don't believe or tell people they are going to burn in hell.....

"Huh?

Most Christians I know believe that". ~Roma "Tomato" Love
 
Busted!!!
 
 Quoting romalove:

 

Quoting GoodPenny:

Like a penny yes...but a lucky one!

I will always turn up...can't get rid of me.

Oh and I proved I was right about what you said about Christians.

Did you see that yet? 

See, I was correct about you, you aren't that hard to decipher.

Quoting romalove:

Ahhh, not in the least.

And I see you have turned up again, like a bad penny....


Quoting GoodPenny:

 


Quoting prommy:


 


Quoting romalove:


 


Quoting prommy:


 


Quoting GoodPenny:

It's not just you. She has been that way with me as well in this post. She claims to be in a inter faith marriage, and is tolerant of the Christian faith because she has a genuine gold plated ornament of the nativity that she allows her husband to put on the tree every year lol!!

Quoting prommy:


 


Quoting romalove:

You are not the arbiter of acceptable messages.


Quoting prommy:


 



Quoting romalove:



 



Quoting prommy:







Quoting prommy:



 







Quoting prommy:




 







Quoting prommy:





 










 

Are you this snotty to everyone or is it just me you don't like? This is a forum to share ideas, you have taken several opportunities to dump on my comments. Take a pill Roma, I get to have an opinion just like you do.




laughing


 Another shining example of a good Christian. 


You're not the arbiter of what makes a good Christian.


clappingOuch!! That one had to sting a little Roma LMBO!!! 

 

 No, Danielle, you proved nothing.

I answered you.  It's in another post in this thread.

That Christians in general believe something or are taught something about people who don't believe burning in hell has no bearing on how I have interacted or experienced Christians in my real life.

Online, I have met a few too many like you, but luckily, even online, I have met some lovely people and I cling to them as the real Christians.


romalove
by Roma on Nov. 21, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Busted for what?

That is what they believe. That doesn't mean I have had negative experiences with them. You are inventing that.

But I am dealing with a bird brain so...


Quoting GoodPenny:

 


This is what you said in response to a comment about where a poster said Christians don't believe or tell people they are going to burn in hell.....


"Huh?


Most Christians I know believe that". ~Roma "Tomato" Love

 

Busted!!!

 

 Quoting romalove:



 


Quoting GoodPenny:


Like a penny yes...but a lucky one!


I will always turn up...can't get rid of me.


Oh and I proved I was right about what you said about Christians.


Did you see that yet? 


See, I was correct about you, you aren't that hard to decipher.


Quoting romalove:

Ahhh, not in the least.

And I see you have turned up again, like a bad penny....



Quoting GoodPenny:


 



Quoting prommy:



 



Quoting romalove:



 



Quoting prommy:



 



Quoting GoodPenny:

It's not just you. She has been that way with me as well in this post. She claims to be in a inter faith marriage, and is tolerant of the Christian faith because she has a genuine gold plated ornament of the nativity that she allows her husband to put on the tree every year lol!!


Quoting prommy:



 



Quoting romalove:

You are not the arbiter of acceptable messages.



Quoting prommy:



 




Quoting romalove:




 




Quoting prommy:










Quoting prommy:




 









Quoting prommy:





 









Quoting prommy:






 











 


Are you this snotty to everyone or is it just me you don't like? This is a forum to share ideas, you have taken several opportunities to dump on my comments. Take a pill Roma, I get to have an opinion just like you do.





laughing



 Another shining example of a good Christian. 



You're not the arbiter of what makes a good Christian.



clappingOuch!! That one had to sting a little Roma LMBO!!! 


 


 No, Danielle, you proved nothing.


I answered you.  It's in another post in this thread.


That Christians in general believe something or are taught something about people who don't believe burning in hell has no bearing on how I have interacted or experienced Christians in my real life.


Online, I have met a few too many like you, but luckily, even online, I have met some lovely people and I cling to them as the real Christians.



Posted on CafeMom Mobile
GrannyM.
by Bronze Member on Nov. 22, 2012 at 7:49 AM
2 moms liked this

i'm sure God is not amused....Merry Christmas and God Bless America...

Donna6503
by Platinum Member on Nov. 22, 2012 at 8:16 AM
1 mom liked this
I would rather see a person display themselves in true Christian living; than see a display of some type of an event based on someone's interpretation of an event.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
PamR
by Pam on Nov. 22, 2012 at 10:02 AM
1 mom liked this

Hi Danielle!

GoodPenny
by on Nov. 22, 2012 at 1:25 PM

 


 

Quoting romalove:

Busted for what? For sounding like a hypocrite.

That is what they believe. And how would you know that if you said in one post that you've not experienced it, and then in another post stated that those that you personally know  believe in the burning in hell factor? You make absolutely no sense whatsoever. that doest doesn't mean I have had negative experiences with them. so does that mean that burning in hell sounds like a postive thing to you? You are inventing that. Just going by what you have said..but ok lol 

But I am dealing with a bird brain so...sounds like a personal problem to me....they say that protien can boost brain mass. Eat lots of Turkey today...I've no doubt you can put it away.  


Quoting GoodPenny:

 


This is what you said in response to a comment about where a poster said Christians don't believe or tell people they are going to burn in hell.....


"Huh?


Most Christians I know believe that". ~Roma "Tomato" Love

 

Busted!!!

 

 Quoting romalove:



 


GoodPenny
by on Nov. 22, 2012 at 1:35 PM

I say allow each city to vote on holiday displays based on what is positive and brings joy and happiness to the majority. Apply the Social Contract for that particular city/town. As long as it's not against Federal law (which it is not) then it is doing nothing but bringing joy to the masses. Grinch's and Scrooge's need to step off! 

YOU CAN'T KEEP A GOOD PENNY DOWN EVEN IF YOU STEP ON IT!
GoodPenny
by on Nov. 22, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Will somebody please "like" Roma Tomato's post??

I feel sorry for her. Over 400 comments and not one "like"  simple frown

"I'd rather be a penny wise than a pound foolish"

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