The city of Santa Monica decided not to allow any holiday displays in a public park this year after being forced to allow non-Christian groups to put up their own displays next to a nativity scene that had been up for decades. And now the Christians are going to court claiming this violates their freedom of speech.
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.
He doesn’t seem to understand the concept of freedom of speech. If the city allows only you to have access to public property to express your religious views, they aren’t giving you freedom of speech, they’re endorsing your viewpoint. So they either have to open that forum to everyone or keep everyone out. And this does not in any way violate your free speech. You’re entirely free to put up the nativity scene on private property, where it belongs.
And isn’t it fascinating how they say it’s having to “hunt for a home.” I did a search for churches in Santa Monica and the results were capped at 500, so there are likely many more than that. More than 500 churches and you can’t find a place to put up a nativity scene?
But here’s the bad part. All of this was precipitated by a local atheist setting up his own display in that same public park and encouraging others to do the same. That’s the good part. But his display used yet another fake quote from the Founding Fathers, this time Thomas Jefferson:
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 creche.
Vix hung a simple sign that quoted Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike — founded on fables and mythologies.”
Except Jefferson never said that. Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, people, do some fucking research. I’ve spent years bashing David Barton for things like this, but I’m even more annoyed when our side does it. Because they should know better.
And by the way, they lost that lawsuit. A federal judge ruled that the city did not have to open the park up for such displays at all. Their response was classic:
“The atheists won,” Becker told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a shame about Christmas. Pontius Pilate was exactly the same kind of administrator.”