Judge Rules Against Christian Group in Santa Monica; They Cannot Put Up a Nativity Scene on Public Property

Earlier today, I mentioned that a Christian group in Santa Monica, California wanted a judge to give them special treatment so they could put up a Nativity Scene in a public park. The lawsuit was filed after atheists decided they wanted (and received) equal access to the park to put up their own signs.

Now, a judge has ruled against the Christians, saying they don’t get special privileges just because they love the Jesus:

A federal judge on Monday denied a Christian group’s bid for a preliminary injunction to force suburban Santa Monica to reopen spaces in a city park to private displays, including Christmas Nativity scenes.

U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins formalized an earlier tentative ruling during a hearing.

William Becker, the attorney for the Christian group, said he will appeal.

“The atheists won and they will always win unless we get courts to understand how the game is played and this is a game that was played very successfully and they knew it,” Becker said after the hearing.

The “game” he’s referring to is called “Following the Constitution.” The atheists know the document well and they know they have as much of a right to space in a public park as any religious group does. Becker would be doing himself a favor if he actually read the rules of the Game. (Or maybe just Rule #1.)

Until Becker appeals the ruling, the rest of us will be over here, smugly looking at him with an “I told you so” look and pulling a Nelson Muntz.

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.

  • jdm8

    If Becker sees it as a game to be played and that it’s been played against him, then maybe that’s the root of his problem.

    • Matto the Hun

      Typical Christian projection at least when it comes to Christians like Becker. They think we are rigging the game to get our way because that’s how they operate.

  • newavocation

    The game is DOLLARS!!! Check out the site of this non-profit but not tax exempt organization. Check out the donor levels! http://www.santamonicanativityscenes.org/Help.html

    • Medea Ginger Hertz

       I love how it is the “most important tradition” in the city.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      Wow! They spend approximately $18,000 per year for that display. Maybe they can redirect that to worthy charity, now that things have changed.

  • jose

    Public space is everybody’s, not just the christians’. It’s intolerant to take the place up with your particular brand of religious paraphernalia at the expense of everybody else.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Come on disqus.. you can do it!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor


    • Bryan

      My favorite: “the christians harm no one, and yes jesus said to turn the other cheek but not to get walked all over.”

      Someone has a problem with metaphors…

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor
    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      It’s an interview with the supporter and him spewing his web of bullshit.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      To those who might watch the interview: Kevin_Of_Bangor’s description of the opinions expressed in the video he linked are greatly misleading. I heard nothing that belongs in the category of “spew[ed] web of bullshit.”

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        It is my opinion. You are welcome to your own. I heard bullshit.

  • pagansister

    They can place baby Jesus in the church’s yard—not on public property—-

  • Aaron Scoggin

    What’s the problem? Reopen the lots and let the Christians get whooped publicly. What’s the matter?


  • The Windup Penguin

    I’ve been putting up invisible pink unicorns in parks, in (and on) public schools, in the capitol, and I even snuck them  into churches.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      Invisible, pink unicorns don’t exist. What have you been putting in parks, schools, churches, and the capitol?

      • eskomo

        Where is this proof that invisible pink unicorns don’t exist and how can I get some?

        • Baal

           I have a book that tells me it’s (the book) is very old.  It’s age double proves its authenticity and that author (the one that is old and very powerful) has commanded to me to know in my heart that invisible pink unicorns exist and that I may place them in many places.  I have just now placed one in your heart and also in the Sistine Chappelle (it’s next to the Dave Chappelle) and also in the Hagia Sophia.  Having witnessed these placements, you now confirm for me  even more that the invisible pink unicorns are among us.  It’s not just me who is aware of their placement. 

          • Rosemary

             Your belief has been put in your mind by the Invisible Red Devil.  If you do not denounce this apostasy the Prince of Bright Twilight will snuff out your Light for eternity. 

  • Robster

    This all loving all powerful god just can’t win a trick.  Perhaps it’s a bit of a dud and all the biblical nonsense is nothing more than a nasty fraud.

  • Elizabeth

    I should have known better than to click on the yahoo article on this heralding “Judge bans nativity scene.” And I certainly should have known better than to scroll to the comments! And that my little fingers can type civil replies till the end of time and still get downthumbs from people who don’t understand that “freedom of religion” doesn’t mean “freedom of religion*”  *Various types of Christian only.  And also people who don’t understand freedom of speech. *headdesk*.  This is not a hard concept! Rawr!

  • Jason

    It’s great when the judicial system works

  • Antinomian

    We’re going to need a bigger ‘butthurt locker’ Captain…

  • Matt Sturges

    As I understand it, the atheists didn’t even “win,” technically, as they weren’t a party to the case. It was the City of Santa Monica that won, so whatever “game” the atheists were playing was amazingly subtle. I understand the Christians probably feel pretty terrible; it must be a lousy feeling to have your unearned privilege stripped away from you because of the actions of one guy with a sign.

  • Lagerbaer

    Good, good. All that literacy is finally paying off.