Religious folk in California are outraged after learning that atheists won the right to 14 out of 21 spaces for holiday scenes. The city has a lottery system and, while God may not have favored them, fate did in selecting two atheists with claims to over two dozen spaces.
Only three spaces remain for religious messages. Hunter Jameson, a spokesman for various churches, cried foul and alleged that the atheists were working in tandem. Since Jameson represents a collection of churches working in tandem, that may not seem such an outrage.
For 57 years, churches were free from competition for the spaces in the park for nativity. Now, they use a lottery system to be fair to everyone — leaving it to God or fate — depending on your views.
One of the winners is Damon Vix, who last year posted a sign quoting Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike — founded on fables and mythologies.”
Jameson has demanded a “local preference” rule for residents of Santa Monica to push out atheists who live outside the city. The city attorney wisely rejected that effort.
Of course, St. Monica would understand. She was prohibited by a local bishop for continuing her practice of bringing “certain oratories, erected in the memory of the saints, offerings of porridge, bread, and wine” to public places for the faithful. Essentially denied a permit because it was used as an “occasion of gluttony.” Ultimately, Santa Monica was named by 18th century Father Juan Crespí who found a little spring (now known as Serra Springs) and named it Las Lagrimas de Santa Monica (“Saint Monica’s Tears”) for the tears that she shed for her impious son, Augustine.
If that does not offer solace, there is also the fact that the Nativity Scene occurred after Mary and Joseph were displaced from the Inn. Yet, a miracle occurred. Somehow this all fits . . .
Source: Boston as first seen on Reddit.
FLOG THE BLOG: Have you voted yet for the top legal opinion blog? WE NEED YOUR VOTE! You can vote at HERE by clicking on the “opinion” category. Voting ends December 31, 2011.
34 thoughts on “Religious Groups in Santa Monica Call For Changes After Atheists Win Majority of Places Set Aside For Holiday Scenes”
@Mike Spindell: A Christmas tree has nothing to do with Christ at all; in any way. It is a pagan belief that everything has a spirit, rocks, rivers, mountains, and trees. Because evergreens do not lose their leaves in winter (and thus do not look dead) they became a symbol of life and survival in the winter. Pagans in Norway and Sweden were venerating spruce (an evergreen) with rock carvings at thousands of archaeological sites, some dated earlier than 1000 BC.
The tree became “christianized” when it was decorated for the Bible story of Adam and Eve, which required a tree to carry the apple, and evergreens were the only tree that looked alive for a winter play.
You might think those are separate but similar events, but even then, the Paradise Tree from the Garden of Eden is hardly a reference to Christ, it is an Old Testament story that would apply equally to Judaism and Islam.
I personally do not think they are separate. Pagan symbolism was refined to be evocative and resonate for many thousands of years before Christians existed. They are like tunes that get stuck in your head. I do not think the Christians use of pagan symbols is coincidental at all; I think they just repurposed a bunch of stuff that had been proven to work.
“My dad, who was raised Orthodox and who raised us somewhat “conservadox”, and never had anything of Christmas in the home, kept kosher, and otherwise supported liberal causes would nevertheless drive us kids around the local Santa Claus lane’s, streets in LA where homeowners would get together and build the best light displays.”
I believe a pre-Christmas miracle has occurred and I actually substantially agree with Anon’s comment. My Parents were also raised Orthodox and became Conservative Jews. We never celebrated Christmas, yet because most of their friends were Italians, we spent many a Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday at their homes. It was understood we never exchanged presents. We even went to Midnight Mass with them once. I actually love Christmas Time, at least in NYC where it is magical and have wonderful childhood memories surrounding the Christmas and New Years holidays.
My wife and I brought up our two children in the Conservative Jewish tradition. I took my kids to Shul every Sabbath, we lit candles on Friday nights heralding the Sabbath, they went to Hebrew School/Camps, celebrated the Jewish Holidays and we kept Kosher when one child became more religious on her own. However, when we lived in Queens, NYC, a regular family activity was to drive around Howard Beach, of Mafia fame, to see the amazing home Christmas decorations and marvel at their beautiful complexity.
From a Jewish perspective I have always been bemused though about how Christians think that Jews are missing out on something special by not participating in the celebration and gift giving. As a child, knowing I was Jewish, I never envied my friends toys around the Christmas Tree, since I knew that was a Christian thing.
Christmas is essentially a religious holiday, usurping pagan traditions. Even though as a Winter Solstice celebration it reaches back into pre-history, December 25th was also the birthday of Mithra, who death was a sacrifice like Jesus and whose cult was most popular among the Roman Legion. As for Easter, its’ celebration largely coincided with Passover and indeed that Last Supper was a seder. However, that is not to deny that the celebration of spring also began in pre-history and Passover itself datewise, probably grew out of it.
“People that were raised predominantly Christian who as adults then want to tell me that I should not mind a Christmas Tree in the public square BECAUSE they are secular, it’s that argument that I feel is not an honest, or even tolerant argument.”
Again, Anon and I are strangely on the same page. This protestation by Christians is not an honest argument. I personally don’t believe that public property should be used for any celebration that is either for, or against
religion. As to private property, be my guest to ones heart’s delight. Nevertheless, the Atheists position is also less than an honest one in that it is not a “celebration”, rather it is a statement. To Christians, a Christmas Tree/Creche is not a statement, but a celebration of Jesus.
One last thought. Channukah is a very unimportant Jewish holiday, perhaps the least important. I do celebrate it though. However, it is misunderstood that it is the Jewish equivalent of Christmas and when Stars of David are erected alongside Christmas trees a false equivalence has been set up. I’m not against the practice per se, but I admit it is sort of an “In your face” statement.
propaganda all the way
oh what fun it is to hyde
bankster plunder while you slay
Indiana Jones is real, damn it! And I’ll shoot anyone threatening me with a scimitar to prove it! Oops! Got to go! The walls are moving in and I need to find my hat . . .
More on topic, I don’t think the use of public lands for private displays of any sort – religious or secular – is appropriate. The court in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 1355, 79 L.Ed.2d 604 (1984) got it wrong by saying that the display of a Nativity scene on municipal property wasn’t a religious display but simply part of a wider celebration of the winter holidays. The reaction of the religious groups in Santa Monica in this instance clearly show that such displays do indeed encourage excessive entanglement in religious matters.
This is exactly the kind of endless goalpost moving we see with all religious types. As soon as they end up on the same end of the stick that atheists have been on for centuries, the crying and whining gets so loud that you’d think their mythical “savior” was getting crucified all over again.
Can’t wait to see how the godbotherers rewrite the laws to claw back their monopoly on winter solstice spiritual thought.
I am an atheist, I do not believe in anything supernatural at all. But so what? The Christians appropriated the Pagan Winter Equinox celebrations, which the Pagans marked as the day when winter had turned the corner, days would get longer, they had Spring on the way. Speaking of which, Christians appropriated the Pagan Spring festival as well, that is why “Easter” is full of the Pagan symbols of new life: Baby bunnies, baby chicks, and eggs gathered from the field and cushioned in grass-lined baskets (to prevent breakage). Even the Easter Egg hunts are derived from children looking for the eggs of wild birds.
I like the pagan versions, at least they are based in the reality of the world. The Equinox is real milestone, and living to see it means you will probably live to see Spring. Early Spring can be truly gorgeous. It makes you feel good, you have officially survived another Winter. Being an atheist does not prohibit us or our children from enjoying the natural world or having a little imaginative fun.
I do not have to believe there is really an Indiana Jones or James Bond to enjoy those movies, I (and the children in my extended family) do not have to believe in Santa and his elves or any of the later additions (Frosty, Grinch, Rudolph, Jesus, Scrooge) to have some fun with those dramatic fictions either.
I say, atheists, display the obviously fictitious: Put up Frosty with his magic hat, Scrooge with Tiny Tim on his shoulders, Santa and his elves and flying reindeer, and a secularly decorated pine, our role model for surviving the winter. There is no harm in celebrating either the best of human emotions or the beauty of the natural world. Atheism does not have to be ascetic.
I agree with anon on one thing as I “love the place.” Thinking about planning a trip there in February. We used to go nearly every year as my husband has a lot of relatives nearby.
Has Mr. Jameson given no thought to the possibility that the lottery results are a sign that God does not favor the treatment of Christmas as merely an opportunity to engage in what amounts to an advertising competition and that the monies devoted to the construction of gaudy and tasteless displays could be better applied toward alleviating the economic suffering of church members and others?
I’m much more bothered with people who want to have it both ways, and claim that various symbols of _Christ_ mas are secular activities.
People that were raised predominantly Christian who as adults then want to tell me that I should not mind a Christmas Tree in the public square BECAUSE they are secular….
I don’t mind a Christmas tree in the public square so long as other religion’s and atheists’ rights to use the public square are respected at other times.
But I do mind being told I shouldn’t mind the Christmas tree and the Santa Claus in the public square because somehow they are irreligious.
People that were raised predominantly Christian who as adults then want to tell me that I should not mind a Christmas Tree in the public square BECAUSE they are secular, it’s that argument that I feel is not an honest, or even tolerant argument.
This is the sort of thing that ultimately will put religious zealots and evangelists on the defensive. I always figure that anytime they claim propriety over things whether it be license plate slogans or in front of city hall, unpopular beliefs need to fight to get equal time for their ideas. Equal time for “I Love Satan” is probably the only way to get rid of “In God We Trust” license plates and to get these displays off public land.
“.and me thinks you are a conservative ultra right extremest self thought Christian”
You’re putting me on.
“that writes well”
And now I know you’re putting me on.
My dad, who was raised Orthodox and who raised us somewhat “conservadox”, and never had anything of Christmas in the home, kept kosher, and otherwise supported liberal causes would nevertheless drive us kids around the local Santa Claus lane’s, streets in LA where homeowners would get together and build the best light displays.
You come across as one who came to believe…..and believe it or not….the extremes of either side will eventually….prove as you have said…self-defeating…..It is called balance….and me thinks you are a conservative ultra right extremest self thought Christian…that writes well….
As a Jewish agnostic/atheist that once lived near there, and love the place, I think this is stupid and self-defeating for atheists as well as a loss for the community.
I’m much more offended that my local classical music NPR station decided to play a day’s worth (well a night’s worth) of Christmas ear-worms, and religious ones at that, than that the local park is filled with more scenes of Christmas than of messages for atheists.
Let the damn holiday be a holiday for those who celebrate it and not a watered down happy seasonal time let’s all go to the Santa Monica Mall for designer french fries.
“Jameson has demanded a “local preference” rule for residents of Santa Monica to push out atheists who live outside the city. The city attorney wisely rejected that effort.”
Why was that decision wise?
If Palisades Park is paid for with Santa Monica taxes, and places in the park are a limited resource, why shouldn’t there be a local preference to Santa Monica residents?
Has Los Angeles suddenly run out of places or beachside spots for its residents to place express their speech in? Is Venice and Culver City once again busting heads of residents that ask to put up scenes in their parks?
I don’t see the first amendment interest that the city park has to be made available to anyone from anywhere equally with local residents.
It seems to be the reverse, if anyone from anywhere has an equal right to the 21 spaces, AND they do not even have to use the spaces (since that is what is going on here), then it’s almost certain the end/stable solution in a world where Santa Monica has 90e3 residents and the world has 9e9 is that Santa Monica residents lose their ability to express their speech in their local park.
These dumbasses aren’t even using the spaces: “Adding to the loss, the atheists have used only three of the display areas to promote their message.”
If they feel that strongly about removing the scenes from the public park, fine, but they should become residents and place that on the city agenda.
If the city’s population feels that scenes in the park are a public good (bring in commerce, light the season, …) than not placing scenes in the park, while an act of speech in and of themselves, is a loss for the local residents.
If the atheists really are about letting other people have their speech too, they should voluntarily cede the spaces they are not using to the religious groups.
If the atheists really are “militant”, “fundamentalist” atheists than this is a nice way to show it, and as I said, stupid, and ultimately self-defeating.
Ho Ho Ho and Hee Hee Hee.
Ok….what does an Atheist erect…..except leave it the way it be…….
I saw that yesterday and thought it was funny.
In case you have been living in a cave in Mongolia and missed the newest phenomenon in decorating your house, here is some holiday cheer. Music is “Wizards of Winter” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Many religious types are from Kurudistan, while others are from a better place.
Same with some atheists.
Since only 2% of our cognition is what we call “conscious thought”, we can find more affinity if we consider our larger cognition which we call “subconsciousness”.
What our eyes see, ears hear, or tongue tastes goes through the amygdala channels for interpretation prior to being released to pass through those “higher forms” of cognition.
Do you think they would be calling for changes if they had won 14 out of 21? Probably won’t be happy till they get 21 of 21.
Well, I hope my fellow atheists put up all the symbolic regalia of paganism. Santa Claus in his sleigh, reindeer, elves, candles, a gaudy decorated tree, mistletoe, toys and stars.
We’re not pagans, but at least the pagans knew how to have a good time!
Comments are closed.