Nov 19, 2012
This year, the City of Santa Monica has decided to stop the city's 60-year holiday tradition rather than play Solomon in a religious war.
Christian churches that have long displayed a 14-scene Christian diorama sued in federal court over freedom of speech, and the Santa Monica City Council wants no part in deciding religious issues.
"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 of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee that filed the federal lawsuit.
Damon Vix and affiliated atheists were not parties to the federal case, though they join national atheist groups in denouncing religious displays in the public square.
The Santa Monica drama began three years ago, when Vix was granted a booth in Palisades Park alongside an elaborate Jesus Christ nativity scene. The sign in his atheist display stated, "Religions are all alike - founded on fables and mythologies."
Last year, however, Damon Vix recruited 10 others to flood the city with applications for holiday displays like the "Pastafarian" religion display, which would include a tribute to the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The secular group had won 18 of 21 available spaces in the park, and atheists displayed "holiday" pictures of Poseidon, Santa Claus and Satan.
California Christians were outraged at the perceived religious mockery.
Biblical scholars and strict adherents to the teachings of Jesus Christ are quick to point out, however, that nativity scenes are comprised of graven images in violation of the Bible's Second Commandment.
Such biblical purists also point out that Jesus of Nazareth worked toward liberating individuals from the clutches of religious control and manipulation. His aim was to direct God's children back into a relationship, not a religion.
Christ's most famous public confrontations were not directed at repentant sinners, they point out, but toward hypocritical religious leaders who fought Truth to maintain traditions.
Religious leaders suing to maintain traditions that promote the violation of God's commandment against graven images makes no sense to Christians who have dedicated every bit of their lives to their Heavenly Father, scholars emphasize.
Apparently, from the perspective of those who take God at His Word, the current Battle of Santa Monica over nativity scenes and atheist displays needlessly involves a federal court in a war of prideful wills over the right to sin against God.
Federal Judge Rejects Case
U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins refused the Christian group's request for a preliminary injunction to require the City of Santa Monica to allow nativity displays during the holiday season.
Judge Collins said the Christian group has the right to present its nativity scene on private property in other areas of the city.
Christian group attorney William Becker has vowed to appeal.