Should City Land Be Used for Religious Displays? One City Says ‘No’

The LATimes is reporting today that the city of Santa Monica has denied The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee the right to put up the nativity scenes that they have erected in Palisades Park for almost 60 years.

But last year, after requests for display spots exceeded the space allotted, the city held a lottery to allocate spaces. Atheists won 18 of 21 spots. A Jewish group won another. The traditional Nativity story that used to take up 14 displays was crammed into two.

Controversy erupted, and as a result, the city decided the lottery would become increasingly costly. Last June, the City Council voted to ban all private unattended displays.

The case is pending, but for now the displays have been banned.

What do you think of religious displays on city land? Is it fair only if the spaces are evenly allotted to all religions? How would that best work?

Or should all religious displays be banned from municipal land?


AP Photo/HW Chiu

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  1. Curious Ellen. do you celebrate Christmas or more importantly do you celebrate a holiday on Dec 25th.

  2. More and More society is becoming like South Park. and that folks is scary.

  3. Personally I think that religious displays should be on church or other religious institutions’ grounds only. I do not believe that public property, city property, is the place for any kind of religious display. It’s interesting that controversy only erupted when the Christians didn’t get what they considered to be ‘their’ right to the 14 spots for their display. I also read that while all the atheist displays were vandalized, neither of the Christian ones were. So tell me who the intolerant ones are. Unless the Christian community is willing to share and treat non-believers with the same respect that expect for themselves they should absolutely not be allowed to put up their religious dogma on public property. If Christians were offended by atheist displays just imagine how non-Christians and atheists have felt all these years.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      I am sort of curious, what do the atheists put up in their space? I am wondering do the people who don’t believe do they take Christmas day off? Do they exchange gifts under a Christmas tree and if they do, for what reason? I don’t want to impose my beliefs on anybody else, but is the nativity scene really all that offensive to non-believers, if so, why and how so? Does it impede your path to some place you want to go. Christians in the community, I assume are taxpayers as are non-Christians, but shouldn’t reasonable accommodation for those taxpayers who are Christian be made. What really is the problem with having a nativity scene up. Put up a Menorrah too, whatever. It is this kind of hostility that divides our country. BTW Ellen, I am so glad Christians enjoy a presumption of innocence with you. I know in one community, the fact that the nativity scenes were not being vandalized was because members of the Knights of Columbus stood guard at the nativity scenes 24/7, so might explain why the nativity scenes went unharmed and my guess is that the non-believers did not have the same level of commitment from their members to keep them protected. Your presumption of Christians being responsible for the damage reveals you to be a hateful and prejudice person unless you have more evidence you would like to share with us. BTW I am deeply offended by your presumption. I know of no Christian that would vandalize anything. But because I am a Christian I am fair game for that kind of attack. Substitute Jew or African-American for Christian and see what kind of reaction you get. I would bet you get called a racist or an anti-semite.

      • As for nonbelievers taking the day off or not… well, most businesses and offices in America are closed for Christmas, so wouldn’t make much sense to go in when the office is closed, especially if you’re getting paid for the holiday anyway. I mean, I suppose you could, but why would you?

        (Yes, I know there are plenty of businesses that don’t close and plenty of people who don’t get Christmas off and/or paid, I’m speaking in very general terms here as I don’t have all afternoon to explore every exception to the above.)

        I get the day after Thanksgiving off, but I don’t participate in Black Friday, and for me, Thanksgiving is not a weekend-long affair, it’s just Thursday. So I get Friday off despite having no personal stake in it one way or the other. Same thing for nonbelievers and Christmas. It’s another day off, a nice little end-of-year bonus, nothing else.

    • John Smith says:

      The atheists were just doing that to spite the joy and celebration of the Christians? Its the atheist groups that bang on about how all religions try and force there dogma yet they are the most evangelical of the lot. Who were these traditional displays harming? No one until an atheist group decided to use it as a political cause.

      It seems the city have not taken one side or another but said, basically “If you can’t play nice then I’m taking my ball home”.

      • Some muslims get angry at christmas displays here. And quite a lot of christians here get very angry at anything muslim. Intolerance isn’t limited to atheism.

    • John Smith says:

      Having just watched the news report the atheist displays were deliberately provocative, attacking religion and borderline hate messages… Whilst I don’t agree I am not surprised they were vandalized. It’s strange how the more evangelical atheist so often do provocative things then claim that Christians are all evil when some react with anger.

      The intolerant ones are the ones who put up anti religions posters just to stop someone putting up a display they would work many months on. The intolerant ones are the ones who are offended by a nativity scene…

      • I don’t mind christmas, but I find it kinda sickening to see some dude nailed to a cross around this town. Passive stuff isn’t too bad, my only gripe is mall street preachers calling people sinner etc. Practice your religion but don’t be an ass about it, don’t harass others (yes go away door knockers). I think it’s pretty cool seeing the various cultures here do their thing, I’d love to see a dragon festival. I’ve been to feast of the 3 saints before (big parade here) , get a good feed of italian (very sicilian/italian roman catholic area where I live).

        These days christmas is more about santa n lights than christianity so I’d probably say atheists can celebrate it fine but it sounds more like the winter solstice? vs christmas.

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