A California town has been forced to axe its Christmas decorations after an atheist protester objected to a 14-piece religious display in the town centre and set up his own booths mocking Christianity and preventing church groups from celebrating the holidays.
Officials in Santa Monica, California have snuffed the city’s holiday tradition this year rather than intervening in the religious fight – prompting churches which have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama every year for decades to sue over freedom of speech violations. Their attorney will ask a federal judge on Monday to allow them to reproduce the depiction of Jesus’ birth, while the city aims to have the case thrown out.
‘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.
Missing from the courtroom drama will be Damon Vix and his fellow atheists, who are not parties to the case. Their role outside court highlights a tactical shift as atheists evolve into a vocal minority eager to get their non-beliefs into the public square as never before.
National atheist groups earlier this year took out full-page newspaper ads and hundreds of TV spots in response to Catholic bishops’ activism, around women’s health care issues and are gearing up to battle for their own space alongside public Christmas displays in small towns across America this season.
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