Christmas time is near again and the government property Nativity Scene nitwits are crying foul over the fact that the city of Santa Monica California has decided to no longer allow any unattended holiday season displays on public land.
Some Christians just can’t understand the part of the First Amendment that prohibits government from establishing, promoting or sponsoring any religion, including Christianity, the religion of the majority in America. So we have these fights about Nativity Scenes on government property every year. The city is simply fed up with the quarrelling.
Santa Monica has ended a tradition that began in 1953 allowing huge displays of Christian Nativity Scenes in Palisades Park, earning one of the cities nicknames: the City of the Christmas Story.
But in recent years non-religious groups have objected to the constitutional violation prompting the city to declare the display area a public forum allowing displays by atheists and other religions. Public forums of this type are constitutional because the government is not promoting any particular point of view.
So three years ago atheists displayed a simple sign in one display area that quoted Thomas Jefferson: "Religions are all alike -- founded on fables and mythologies." The other side read: "Happy Solstice."
Then this year a coalition of atheists groups were able to obtain 18 of the 21 display areas available at auction, leaving only two slots left for the Christians and one for a Jewish display.
"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."
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?"
That got the Christians hopping mad. Most of the atheist signs were vandalized and in the ensuing uproar, the city decided to end the public forum once and for all. Private, unattended displays are now banned at the park.
So the Christian churches that have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama Nativity Scene for decades sued the city claiming First Amendment freedom of speech violations.
You see, the Christians insist on displaying their religious messages while at the same time objecting to and vandalizing the other non-Christian messages in the public forum. They want it both ways. It was their own protests and conduct which led to the ban and now they’re protesting the ban. The atheists are satisfied either way.
"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.
A federal judge on Monday denied the Christian group’s bid for a preliminary injunction to force Santa Monica to allow the display of a Nativity Scene prompting the nitwits to start howling about an imagined potential threat to religious liberty.
William Becker, the attorney for the Christian group, told reporters that it was an “extraordinary ruling.”“The next step will be for them to stop any religious speech at all in a public park — whether it’s singing hymns or merely handing out leaflets or merely discussing religion,” he whined. “One day it will all be banned.”
The atheists won’t have their unattended displays any longer either but they understand the First Amendment Establishment clause. The city can choose to set up a public forum or not at its discretion, but it cannot promote any one point of view to the exclusion of all others.
There is clearly no threat to religious liberty in Santa Monica.
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, said Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney.
The Nativity Scene nitwits will never understand.