After Atheists Put Up Holiday Displays, City May Ban the Practice Altogether

Remember when officials in Santa Monica, California decided to use a lottery to determine who would get to put up a holiday display in the 21 available spots? Atheists won 18 of the spaces (though they only used 3 of them):

(I know it looks freaky with the chain-link fencing and all that but that had nothing to do with the atheist displays — the fencing was standard for everybody.)

Anyway, a bunch of Christians were really angry about all this. So they came up with this solution:

They petitioned the City Council to forever save 14 spots of the coveted real estate for the life-size Christmas dioramas

That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen and the Council knows it.

So they’re countering with a proposal of their own:

Palisades Park might be void of Nativity scenes for the first time in decades next winter.

Menorahs and posters advocating atheism would be banned, too, under a proposal to outlaw “winter displays” at the seaside park.

[Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Jones] Moutrie recommends that the City Council tell organizers to find private land on which to erect their displays instead.

Plus, “operating the lottery system is both time consuming and costly for the City and likely to become increasingly so because applicants have indicated they will ‘flood’ the lottery process,” she continued.

You can check out the actual ordinance under consideration here.

This is a victory for anyone who supports church/state separation. Moutrie is exactly right to advise the Christian group to put their displays on private property. Palisades Park doesn’t belong to any one religion or group — it’s a park for everybody. It ought to be devoid of all religious displays.

It just took some atheists to make that point clear.

(via LA Atheism Examiner)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    prison-style fencing?! It’s just chain-link ffs. They use that at elementary schools! It’s not like they lined the top of it with barbed wire.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      You’re right. I’ve updated the post to reflect that.

    • Anonymous

      The school fencing that I’ve seen is half that height and doesn’t have the top enclosed.  As such, this is a lot uglier.  It’s good to get rid of these things altogether.

      • Johnk

        I’m sure it’s to avoid vandalism. It’s amazing how disrespectful we have become as a society, and it crosses all cultures and religions. All it takes is one selfish kid to destroy something. (although it’s much more fun to steal a baby Jesus then a plywood sign!)

        • Anonymous

          I agree, that’s what was said on previous stories.  I meant it was probably better to not have any displays, and that eliminates the need for the enclosures.

          • Johnk

            I would hate to see that. Nativity scenes lit up at night are beautiful, and a part of American culture.

            • Freak

              How about the churches set up their nativity scenes on their own property?

            • Anonymous

              There’s little point to it being on public land, especially when it takes tax dollars to administer, maintenance expenses and also if it diverts patrol time, over religious displays.

              There is plenty of private land, plenty of churches, plenty of businesses with religious owners, probably plenty of residences with front yards in high traffic areas, why must it be on government property?

      • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

        The top enclosure is different, but even tall chain-link fences are used at stadiums and such. It’s pretty melodramatic to compare it to a prison enclosure. I’m glad it’s been changed.

        • FSq

          This is near Venice Beach – anything that is not nailed down or on fire gets stolen, vandalized or used for gang warfare around these parts.

          • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

            So? I fail to see your point. Chain-link fencing is cheap, sturdy and doesn’t block your sight. Because of this it’s very widely used. It would be a simple non-sequitur if your point is “chain link fencing is used to prevent theft, vandalism and gang warfare. Theft, vandalism and gang warfare happen in prisons. Therefore, chain link fencing is prison fencing.”

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

            If you can pry it up, it’s not nailed down…

            • FSq

              You must live in Venice! ;)

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                 Nah, just played a lot of D&D as a Thief.

                • FSq

                  I was too busy trying to date cheerleaders and drinking…..

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                   The cheerleaders were all straight, and I’m still not big on drinking.

                • FSq

                  I never said I was successful at dating them, just that I was giving it my all!

  • Anonymous

    “Plus, “operating the lottery system is both time consuming and costly for the City and likely to become increasingly so because applicants have indicated they will ‘flood’ the lottery process,” she continued.”

    Hey, nothing like threatening to be a pest in your petition.  That’s a great way to make your point.  Not.

    Also, 14 guaranteed spaces?  I didn’t know that Santa Monica was such a haven for Christian privilege.  The board’s final conclusion is the best, find some other land.  If you need government property to express yourself, the problem isn’t the government.

  • brent

    exceeeeeept…. they ruined christmas to make a lame point.

    Let the God-ists have their stupid displays. Sheesh.

    • Gordon Duffy

       it doesn’t take much to ruin your christmas then!

      • FSq

        Right! I live in SOuthern California. Just drive through any neighborhood, strip mall or mall in the area during the holiday season and almost 80 percent of prictae houses have some sort of display, as well as each chruch, store, community center etc…..But Christmas is somehow ruined because MORE displays on a public area couldn’t be displayed?

        That’s like saying professional baseball has been ruined because a community baseball diamond got used for a soccer game.

        WTF.

  • http://honesttogodless.blogspot.com Matt Foss

    Free speech: it’s all fun and games until someone you don’t like exercises it.

    • FSq

      AWESOME Matt! Just awesome!!!

    • Pseudonym

      Normally I’d agree. There really are people who think that any time atheists say anything it takes away the free speech rights of others.

      But this case is very different. Taking over public space which you never intended to use has the inevitable effect of preventing others from using that space.

      • http://honesttogodless.blogspot.com Matt Foss


         Taking over public space which you never intended to use has the inevitable effect of preventing others from using that space. ” 

        The inevitable effect that this case had was that it exposed the flaws of using a lottery system to determine who gets to use the spaces.  The atheists offered to give their extra spaces to local churches – they did not intend to take that many spaces, and did not intend to stifle the free expression of religious groups.

        • Pseudonym

           

          The atheists offered to give their extra spaces to local churches –
          they did not intend to take that many spaces, and did not intend to
          stifle the free expression of religious groups.

          If they didn’t intend to take that many spaces, they should not have applied for so many spaces.

          As for the offer to give the extra spaces to local churches, I can’t comment because I haven’t seen any news reports about this. If it happened, there’s clearly a lot of context missing; perhaps the offer was made too late for the other churches to do anything about it, for example.

          If you know more on exactly what happened, please clue the rest of us in.

          • FSq

            The freethinker group and other atheists who won spaces offered local community faith based groups – not churches directly – space on the display areas.

            They turned the freethinker groups down because they were angry with them in the first place for getting *gasp* public space and felt that by accepting it would basically “give credibility to the atheist tactics” – that is a quote from a local indy arts/weekly paper out of Santa Monica. 

            • Pseudonym

               What’s a “community faith based group”, and why are churches not included under that umbrella?

              As for the latter, obviously I don’t mind atheists getting public space. As for “the atheist tactics”, it depends what we’re talking about. If the person being quoted was referring to the tactic of someone applying for far more space than you can use so that they can decide who gets to use most of the space instead of it being decided by lottery, then they had a good point.

  • Poolio

    This whole situation was a fiasco.  Atheists acted ignobly by grabbing 18 of the 21 displays and claiming it was a “free speech” issue.  They weren’t exercising free speech; they were trying to ruin Christmas.  This is clear from the fact that they left 15 of the displays empty.  They made a mockery of the system.

    It’s like ordering a pizza with your friends and then grabbing 7 of the 8 slices for yourself and saying, “Hey, I have a right to eat too.”  That might be true, but you’re still being a jerk.  Even more so if you throw four of the slices away because you’re full.

    The atheists should have taken one display and focused on making it appealing and getting our message across in a constructive way.  The Christians likewise should take one spot for an attractive nativity display.  One display for Hanukkuh, one for Kwanzaa…

    I know: “How can you subdivide belief systems like that?  What constitutes a unique belief system?”  you say.  “It can’t be done,” you say.  Yes, it can.  When people cooperate and are civil to each other it can.  When people treat each other with respect it can.

    Atheists might have “won” here, but at what cost?  We’ve sucked a little bit of the joy out of the holiday for everyone and made ourselves out to be petty, selfish, and mean. What kind of victory is that?

    • brent

      zackly.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Hibbard/100002227509156 Chris Hibbard

      Actualy they offered the other 15 spots to several churches which all declined them.  Their plan with them was to equaly represent both atheisim, christianity, jew’s, muslims, hindu’s, ETC.  So dont blame them for all the religious groups that declined their genorosity.

      • Annie

        Exactly.  And as I recall from the original article, the atheists just had a better understanding of probability, which allowed them to win more spaces in the first place.  I think their lack of pleasing displays was simply because they had no idea they would get so much space.  How would they know that the other groups didn’t understand how a lottery system works?

      • Poolio

        I understand how a lottery works, and I understand that the atheists acted within the rules when they claimed their 18 spots.  Doesn’t make it right though.

        There are two ways this could have been handled.  (1) They could have taken the resources they needed to present a positive message about their beliefs (or lack thereof) that might favorably have influenced  people who saw them.  (2) They could monopolize as many resources as possible to prevent others from expressing their beliefs, even though they themselves had no need for them.

        Hemant’s earlier posts indicate that all 18 spots were won by two people who claimed the maximum.  The Christians and Jews who were selected chose approach #1.  The atheists chose approach #2.  I understand that it was all on the up-and-up according to the rules.  But as atheists, what message does this send to the community?

        • FSq

          “But as atheists, what message does this send to the community?”

          That we are here and we have as much right to public space as anyone else? That’s just one. And if you find that offensive, then you sir are an American Idiot.

          • Poolio

             Really?  That’s where you’re going with this?

            • FSq

              Your entire premise rests on the basis that because atheists DARED enter the lottery and put up our messages, we are bad. Yes, that is your argument. And what message does it send? That we are here. Is that offensive? Apparently to lesser brained people like yourself it is. And there is the problem. And for you to try and introduce convoluted argument, or even to pretend that your side is equal in opinion or “theory” is wrong. Yes, dead wrong.

              Things have been crafted to make idiots believe that all sides of an argument are equally valid or are deserving of equal time and soap-box time. They are not, and you are just wrong and deluded. 

              Your argument does not deserve equal time nor is it something that even deserves credibility.

              It is as if we were to give fair time to someone advocating alchemy.

              • Poolio

                 

                You don’t seem capable of understanding a nuanced argument.
                You appear to have adopted a hard-line stance on certain issues and are
                threatened by any suggestion that moderate views (or contradictory ones) even
                exist. When threatened you resort to name calling and accusations.

                 

                Let’s review:

                 

                First… you’ve twice said that I am offended by the atheist
                displays and/or by atheism in general. I’m not, and I never said I was. You are
                putting words in my mouth. I am an atheist and I am not offended by myself.

                 

                Second… you keep telling me what my point is, but you
                don’t understand my point. You are telling me that I think atheists shouldn’t
                speak out. You insult me and use melodramatic ALL CAPS to make your point; or,
                rather, what you that to be my point. But this is not my point. I am vocal
                about my atheism and take pride in speaking up for it.

                 

                Third… your point about all sides of an argument not
                having equal validity is certainly true in some circumstances, especially those
                where evidence is the differentiator. But you’re taking a principle that holds
                true in some scenarios and boorishly applying it to matters of opinion

                 

                Fourth… equating human decency with alchemy? I don’t know
                how you made this jump, but it serves to underscore the fact that you’ve
                completely missed my point

                 

                You seem to enjoy telling other people what they think. But
                to you it’s all black and white. It’s your way and the wrong way. Unfortunately
                not everyone sees it like that. Some day you may understand that there are a
                range of viewpoints and opinions between two extremes; and when you push anyone
                on that continuum to the opposite extreme it makes you look ridiculous.

                 

                I won’t try to explain my previous arguments again. I’ve
                expressed them clearly and I trust that everyone else here has understood them,
                whether they agree with me or not.

                • FSq

                  Well look at you go. Trying to act all cool and collected when in fact you have not made a cogent argument nor truly explained how the “we are here and we have as much right to public space as anyone else? That’s just one.”  reply to your query.

                  Two – things can be black and white, and in most circumstances they actually are. It is just that most people try to assuage and massage their PC overtones to convince them of this “grey” which is usually just massaged crap.

                  You cannot polish turds.

        • Sware

          “(1) They could have taken the resources they needed to present a positive message about their beliefs (or lack thereof) that might favorably have influenced  people who saw them. ”
          Did you see the post on Friendly Atheist about the bus adds that were denied merely for saying the word ATHEIST?  Just curious.  This is where atheists are in society.  No matter what their message, no matter how benign, someone will inevitably be offended that atheists exist.

          • Pseudonym

            Suppose it had gone the other way. A church won all of the spaces, denying the local atheists the use of any. They then only used a couple of them. Almost everyone here would be complaining about how unfair and possibly illegal it was. And they’d probably have a valid point.

            • Poolio

              If that were the case, then I would have been as indignant as anyone.  In that case, we could have complained about it and fought against it with impunity because we would clearly have been in the right.

          • Poolio

            I did see that.  PZ had an excellent post on it as well. Yeah, it’s pretty sad. We are fighting a difficult battle; I’ve seen it personally, as have most of us here I’m sure.

            And that’s kind of been my point. If we don’t want our mere existence to offend people, then we shouldn’t act offensively. If we want to be accepted, respected, and influential then we should show people that we are decent people and that you don’t need a poorly conceived 2000 year old book in order to do it.

            • FSq

              Oh, well if PZ said it then by all means, we must capitulate to the self-inflated master of atheism himself….PZ is an asshole.

    • Anonymous

      What part of “lottery” do you not understand?

      Why should atheists only take one space?  If someone wins a lottery, it’s pretty silly for someone else to complain about it, it’s just the way it works.

    • Summer Seale

      Yeah, Christmas was really ruined for everyone – not only in Santa Monica, but everywhere across our “Christian Land”. People no longer bought gifts, children didn’t have snow to sled in, and Santa never showed up. Then, hordes of Atheists stormed hundreds of churches and burned them to the ground with torches, causing mayhem and destroying the very fabric of our society.

      Terror gripped the entire world. Christmas was gone and lay in ruins. Morality suddenly no longer existed amongst the gangs lurking in the dark. Science and reason took over and started teaching the cold, hard, pitiless facts of life. Children were enslaved into the Uranium mines to help create the nightmare of the nuclear bomb of the scientists. Anyone found not believing in math was shot in the back of the head in the street by armed gangs of nerds with pocket protectors. Any person who couldn’t recite the equations of String Theory was thrown into concentration camps, forced to study Darwin’s book.

      Truly, Christmas had come to an end.

      What a terrible, terrible, fiasco it was.

      • https://www.facebook.com/GentleGiantDK GentleGiant

        I would LOVE to see that movie! ;-)

  • Sam Piip


    And they were very unhappy about it; especially after the atheists failed to utilize all the spaces they’d won.

    I don’t get the point of this jab. Would they have been happier if all 18 sites awarded to atheists had been used?

    • Pseudonym

      Would they have been happier if a church had won all 18 sites but only used a couple of them? Of course not. It’s a show of bad faith no matter who does it.

      Admittedly, in their mind, the fact that it was a group of atheists probably just added insult to injury. Even if the insult was imaginary, the injury was arguably real.

      • FSq

        It is not a show of bad faith. Get your head in the game man. It is such a canard to suggest it is “bad faith” to do this. Facts are – the christians have been taking over public space and doing illegal shit. Now we do something about it and you go waah waah waah. Wow, that is inverted at best, and dangerous at worst.

        • Pseudonym

          It’s a show of bad faith to apply for far more of a scarce public good than you can realistically use, because doing so denies others use of that public good.

          If by “do something about it” you mean “fight wrong with wrong”, then yeah, I happen to think that’s worth complaining about.

  • Bricenjojo

    Articles like these don’t seem to reflect very friendly atheism, more of a vendetta atheist…and this is coming from a very open atheist.  I’m not going to trample someone else’s beliefs as long as they don’t bother me for my lack of them.  I actually still celebrate Christmas.  Not for the whole Christ in christmas and celebrating his birthday bull $&*! like the christians do but because of the fun, family and food :)

    • ara

      this isn’t about not wanting to celebrate christmas, this is about making sure that preferential treatment isn’t given to people with specific religious beliefs (and thereby creating a disenfranchised “other” class composed of everyone else)

      this is hardly a vendetta, it’s just good constitutional law

      • Johnk

        If it’s not a vendetta, then why use negative messaging and proselytizing? A display that says “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Kwanza” is very different than one that says, “your religion is founded on fables and mythologies.”
        That would be the same as putting up a nativity scene along with a sign that says, “Atheists are wrong, and they know it.”

        These displays are obviously intended for different groups to freely express their faith (1st Amendment) not to criticize others in public.

        I thought you guys didn’t approve of being self righteous?

        • FSq

          We can’t win. If we as atheists say a friendly “Happy Holidays” to someone, we get accused of hating Christmas. If we put up an atheist display we get hated. 

          We can’t win.

          • Johnk

            Huh? That has nothing to do with my post.

        • Anonymous

          Requiring that private speech in public fora only express one particular viewpoint, such as “expressing their faith”, and excluding opposing viewpoints, is called viewpoint discrimination.  Viewpoint discrimination in public fora violates the First Amendment.  But hey, it’s only the supreme law of the land and the framing document of our system of government.  

    • Johnk

      Agree. It’s pretty clear just by looking at the atheist “displays” that the intention was to mock the whole idea. They came across as jerks? That’s because they were being jerks. I would feel differently about it if they set up a beautiful solstice display (whatever that might be) but slapping paint on a piece of plywood is disrespectful all around.

      Of course they can’t “ruin” Christmas, The Grinch tried that until his heart grew a few sizes.

      • Anonymous

        I wish people a Happy Solstice.  What is mocking about that?  So, any statement of atheism or some astronomical commemoration is being a jerk?  

        • Johnk

          There is nothing at all mocking about saying “happy solstice.” but a sign that says, “religions are all alike, based on fables and mythologies.” has no place next to celebratory signs. The intention of a sign like that is not to enjoy a happy solstice, it is to be a “sign troll.”

          • Anonymous

            “Religions are all alike, based on fables and mythologies” seems like a straightforwardly true statement.  I don’t know why you think the First Amendment requires celebratory signs.  It doesn’t.

            • Johnk

              So you think the displays in the park should feature “true statements?”
              In my opinion, the public displays should be pleasing to look at, and celebrating something that enriches peoples lives. You may want a battle of the signs, but I think the intention was to have well thought out vignettes. For example a nativity, a Christmas tree, a Kwanza harvest display, a solstice sun display, you get the idea – beautiful, heartfelt things to look at in a public space. Not signage that is critical of others. Just worry about stating what you believe instead of making statements about the beliefs of others. Live and let live. Atheists need to be who they are and be satisfied that it’s enough for them. Why should the upfront talking point be that “everyone else is wrong?”

          • Pseudonym

            I take it as a compliment. Fable and mythology are good things, which have served humanity well over the millennia.

            Admittedly I’m in a minority.

    • Anonymous

      It’s a legal question not one of vendetta.  I think that cities will provide resources to religion, but when atheists enter the lottery and get a share, it’s shut down.  I don’t understand why the city provides this resource at all, so I’m happy with the outcome, but it is interesting.

  • LVatheist

    These cages are bizarrely similar to the ones they use at Guantanamo.   I guess this is the official U.S. government grade chain link box for matters of differing theology.

    • Johnk

      Not really, it’s only when those of differing Theology try to kill us. It has nothing to do with religion. (you must recall that in the Balkans we were fighting on the side of manyMuslims). Unless there are Buddhist internment camps around that I don’t know about.

      Or you could compare chain link fence to the way others treat Christians. As we speak there is a pastor in Iran who is on death row because he converted from Islam to Christianity. Many stories like that in China, Cuba, North Korea, etc. and they DO build chain link fences specifically for those of differing theologies.

      Why must atheism so often go hand in hand with America bashing?

      • Philbert

        The irony is the fence is actually the American government protecting the atheist display from destructive religious fundamentalists (in this case Christian). 

        • Johnk

          Only the atheist displays had fencing? I thought they all did, sorry.

          • FSq

            Again, these displays are near Venice Beach – where anything that isn’t on fire or nailed down is ripe for theft, vandalism, gangbang tagging, and abuse.

            Any display, holiday or otherwise gets this treatment around here.

            • Johnk

              Makes sense. I was confused because philbert said that the atheist displays were covered to avoid vandalism by “destructive religious fundamentalists, in this case christians.”

              • FSq

                That may be, but the real story is that all displays are protected and covered. This area (this part of Venice Beach) is almost a DMZ in so many ways. Fall off the main tourist walkway and you are in a pretty nasty area. 

  • http://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-los-angeles/hugh-kramer Hugh Kramer

    I wrote the article as a reporter so I’m only giving my “editorial” opinion now.  I think the point being made by the atheists who “flooded” the lottery last year to win all those spaces was not about equal representation but about the inappropriateness of  having any such displays in a city park at all. They certainly made their point but they did it in a dickish way that did not reflect well on them or it. While I think being a dick has its place as a social or political tactic now and then, I’d rather separation of church and state was represented by its merits than as an excuse for petty-appearing sabotage.

    • Guest

      What would have been a less dickish way?  If Christians had won 18 spots but only used 3, would that be dickish?  Obviously, we don’t know, but it seems pretty doubtful to me.  It’s a double standard.

      Leaving 15 empty is a pretty accurate reflection of what religious holidays atheists believe in.  It’s only “sabotage” if you believe that it should be filled with some sort of religious display, but that’s exactly how the double standard can be identified. 

      • Pseudonym

         

        If Christians had won 18 spots but only used 3, would that be dickish?

        Yes, it would. And if by doing so they’d edged out the local atheist group, everyone here would never have let them forget it.

  • Mitch

    Why ought the park be devoid of all religious displays?  As you state, it’s a park for “everybody”.  Removing all displays turns it into a park for “nobody”.  Just give fair, open, equal access to all faiths.  Your statement promotes exactly what we’re accused of, trying to banish open religious displays.  Separation of church and state doesn’t have to equal a public square empty of any religion.

    • FSq

      Talk about inverted logic. Mitch, you win the “idiotic argument of the day award”. Go forth and display it with dullard pride.

    • Watchemoket

      Why does the absence of religious displays on government-owned land turn the land into ‘nobody’s’ land? Christians, Jews, Muslims or a Wiccans (among many others) can still use the land without having ‘their’ religious display on it.  In addition, doesn’t the allowance of one religion’s display on public land implicitly endorse that religion over all others?  Wouldn’t that alienate all those who do not believe in that single religion?

      It seems to me that separation of church and state DOES equal an absence of religion in the public square. Government endorsement of any one (or more) religion(s) necessarily impeded the free exercise of those who do not belong to those that are so endorsed. The two religious clauses of the First Amendment are opposite sides of the same coin – you can’t have one without the other.

    • Anonymous

      A city can place reasonable time, place, and manner restriction on private speech in public fora under Widmar v. Vincent.  Leaving unattended displays in the park 24 hours a day for more than a month is not something that the City is required to permit.  It’s a park, a beautiful bit of nature overlooking the Pacific Ocean that doesn’t need to be uglified with metal cages.  People can still go there and say whatever they want about religion and anything else.  But there is no legal reason why the City need provide resources for a lottery for displays of this type of time, place, and manner.

  • Anonymous

    1) Limit the offering to registered non-profit organizations with their official address within the city limits. TAX ID number required, only one entry per Tax ID permitted. Multiple entries per Tax ID will result in their entries being disqualified.

    - You preserve the system for the people it was intended for, local residents.
    - You limit it to know entities. Starting a whole additional 501(c)3 is not a minor thing and cuts down on lighthearted or web-based efforts.
    - You retain the ability to hold the event overall.

  • BenFromCA

    This is, on the whole, good news.  While some of the holiday displays were attractive, many were just poorly realized eye sores.  But if it forces the more “resolute” christians to come down off their self-righteous high horses and respect the Constitution (not to mention the rights their fellow, secular citizens) then it’s a win, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Annie

    The Christians are completely missing an opportunity here.  If they had their displays on the lawns of their churches, they could advertise the “lighting”  (or however they would like to announce the unveiling) of their displays to coincide with a service to get people in the door and more butts in the pews.  Isn’t that why they want these displays up in the first place?  To get more people in church?  If not, than they are the ones being jerks here, as it appears they just want to scent mark public land as belonging to Christians.

  • http://fred5.myopenid.com/ fred5

    And of course the “gotcha” is being missed by everyone. The revised ordinance does not prohibit displays in the park. It just eliminates the lottery system for allocating spots for displays. You can still put a display in the park if you apply for, and receive a “Community Event Permit”.  (And as far as I can tell from municipal code there is no limit on the duration of a community event permit.)

    My prediction: At some future date this year the churches that sponsor the nativity scene will apply for, and receive, a Community Event Permit allowing them to display the fourteen scenes  of the nativity for the thirty-one days of December. Great wailing and gnashing of teeth will ensue when Atheist organizations realize they have been outmaneuvered when the city tells the atheist organizations that if they wanted to have displays in the park they should have applied for a Community Event Permit earlier and there is just no way that it could be done now.

    But I’m a cynic and it would never happen this way …. would it?

  • Kristen

    Why no Flying Spaghetti Monster displays? A snow shower of Parmesan cheese  to celebrate winter? Perhaps sledding in some alfredo sauce? Those would have at least been more attractive.

  • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

    Why is this even a thing?  Churches ought to be able to put up more elaborate, attractive decorations on their own properties, but they seem to prefer using taxpayer land and resources, for some reason. Don’t Christians think a nativity scene would look nicer outside of a church than in a glorified dog kennel in the park?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see how it would cost the city if the lottery was “flooded”. Throw them in a pile and pull out the top 20, use the rest to stoke the furnace. It’s not like you have to process them all unless you are stupid.

  • Sware

    Was just thinking that next holiday season, it would be truly amazing for atheist groups everywhere to put up some Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot displays.  I don’t hold anything against what that particular group of atheists did but just think how completely beautiful this could be.

    “We succeeded in taking that picture http://arnett.us.com/psc/pbd.html [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

    The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

    Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

  • Retiredpo58

    This country is go to hell fast.
    THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT ON THE LOVE OF GOD AN OUR SAVIOR. THE GOVERNMENT AN THE COURTS ARE TAKING the RIGHTS OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AWAY FROM US.THIS IS TO GIVE THE RIGHT TO THESE PEOPLE THAT BELIEVE IN SELF ONLY.
    WELL PERSONALY IF THE PEOPLE THAT BELIEVE IN SELF ONLY IS WRIGHT THEN THERE IS NOT A THING LOST BY LETTING US WHERSHIP OUR GOD,BUT IF THEY ARE WRONG THEN JUST THINK OF THE WAY THOSE PEOPLE AN THE COURTS ARE GOING TO ANSWER TO OUR FATHER.ALSO THIS GOES FOR THOSE POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS THAT ARE DOING EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO MAKE IT A CRIME TO PHASE AN LOVE GOD.WHAT HAPPENED TO LOVE OF GOD AND COUNTRY.


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