Monday, November 19, 2012

Atheists' move halts Christmas tradition in California, churches go to court to get it back

I talked about this last year.  The park gave lot reservations to mostly atheists who didn't even use many of their spaces.  They crowded out the Christians who wanted to set up Christian themed decorations.  Because of the huge stink raised, the city's answer was to ban the practice altogether.  Stupid. So now the city is being sued.  Who didn't see this coming?

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee argues in its lawsuit that atheists have the right to protest, but that freedom doesn't trump the Christians' right to free speech.

"If they want to hold an opposing viewpoint about the celebration of Christmas, they're free to do that — but they can't interfere with our right to engage in religious speech in a traditional public forum," said William Becker, attorney for the committee. "Our goal is to preserve the tradition in Santa Monica and to keep Christmas alive."

The city doesn't prohibit churches from caroling in the park, handing out literature or even staging a play about the birth of Jesus and churches can always set up a nativity on private land, Deputy City Attorney Jeanette Schachtner said in an email. The decision to ban the displays also saves the city, which had administered the cumbersome lottery process used to award booths, both time and money while preserving the park's aesthetics, she said.

For his part, Vix is surprised — and slightly amused — at the legal battle spawned by his solitary act but doesn't plan anything further.

"That was such a unique and blatant example of the violation of the First Amendment that I felt I had to act," said the 44-year-old set builder. "If I had another goal, it would be to remove the 'under God' phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance — but that's a little too big for me to take on for right now."
So, by attempting to crowd out the Christian displays is NOT a violation of free speech? It most certainly is!  I would call this a conspiracy to stanch free speech and religious freedom.

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