The Good and Bad of Santa Monica Nativity Situation

The city of Santa Monica decided not to allow any holiday displays in a public park this year after being forced to allow non-Christian groups to put up their own displays next to a nativity scene that had been up for decades. And now the Christians are going to court claiming this violates their freedom of speech.

Santa Monica officials snuffed the city’s holiday tradition this year rather than referee the religious rumble, prompting churches that have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama for decades to sue over freedom of speech violations. Their attorney will ask a federal judge Monday to resurrect the depiction of Jesus’ birth, while the city aims to eject the case.

“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.

He doesn’t seem to understand the concept of freedom of speech. If the city allows only you to have access to public property to express your religious views, they aren’t giving you freedom of speech, they’re endorsing your viewpoint. So they either have to open that forum to everyone or keep everyone out. And this does not in any way violate your free speech. You’re entirely free to put up the nativity scene on private property, where it belongs.

And isn’t it fascinating how they say it’s having to “hunt for a home.” I did a search for churches in Santa Monica and the results were capped at 500, so there are likely many more than that. More than 500 churches and you can’t find a place to put up a nativity scene?

But here’s the bad part. All of this was precipitated by a local atheist setting up his own display in that same public park and encouraging others to do the same. That’s the good part. But his display used yet another fake quote from the Founding Fathers, this time Thomas Jefferson:

The trouble in Santa Monica began three years ago, when Vix applied for and was granted a booth in Palisades Park alongside the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, from Mary’s visit from the Angel Gabriel to the traditional creche.

Vix hung a simple sign that quoted Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike — founded on fables and mythologies.”

Except Jefferson never said that. Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, people, do some fucking research. I’ve spent years bashing David Barton for things like this, but I’m even more annoyed when our side does it. Because they should know better.

And by the way, they lost that lawsuit. A federal judge ruled that the city did not have to open the park up for such displays at all. Their response was classic:

“The atheists won,” Becker told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a shame about Christmas. Pontius Pilate was exactly the same kind of administrator.”

Perfect.

13 comments on this post.
  1. matty1:

    I feel sorry for the churches in Santa Monica, apparently not one of them owns enough land to put up a nativity display on. I wonder if they have to conduct services by conference call?

  2. Sastra:

    You know, all the Christians have to do to keep the atheists from “winning” as they call it is behave with some style, grace, and class when the atheists put up their own display. “Why, that’s fine!” they could say. “This city contains a lot of viewpoints and I think it’s well past time we had some variety here. No, we’re not threatened at all. There’s room for everyone! Enjoy!”

    But then nobody would think they were being persecuted. And, of course, such an attitude would assume their beliefs could hold their own in a fair market of ideas. If they could do that, they wouldn’t be considered a “faith.”

  3. Bronze Dog:

    We have so many idiots who don’t understand what free speech means. What makes it so sad is that this happens in the information age, where free speech is such an important issue.

  4. democommie:

    The Nativity, the story of BABY JESUS (not to be confused with the murderously enraged 900′ tall JESUS with the frikkin’ lazerbeam eyes), it’s about the promise being fulfilled and the New Covenant (better milage!, more eco-friendly!!, smaller smiteprint!!!), right? RIGHT?!

    So, howzabout you have the creche with the live animals and some people playing the Magi and all. They hang out till Xmas Eve and then, on the big day, you slaughter the livestock, gut it, bone the carcases and have a big ol’ barbecue for the poor, the lame, the sick and the halt? Oh, yeah and slap those Magi fucks around until they give up the swag and then you use that to provide some shelter for the homeless.

    The little people get taken care of, the KKKristians get to be REAL martyrs. What’s not to like?

  5. rmsc:

    Maybe, like their savior looking for a place to be born, they should put up their display in a local manger.

  6. Christoph Burschka:

    Vix hung a simple sign that quoted Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike — founded on fables and mythologies.”

    “People misquote me all the time on the internet.” -Thomas Jefferson.

    In fairness, though, in the form “They are all alike founded on fables and mythology” the quote has been in circulation for more than a century. Casual research could lead one to conclude that the source (Remsburg, John E. (1906). Six Historic Americans) is accurate despite being strongly suspect.

    (Less fairly, if Mr. Vix had researched thoroughly enough to read that text, he would likely have used Remsburg’s wording instead of one of the dozens of variations floating around online.)

  7. raven:

    Pontius Pilate was exactly the same kind of administrator.”

    Pilate was performing an essential role in the bible story.

    If Jesus had gotten 5 years with time off for good behavior, there wouldn’t be any xianity.

  8. busterggi:

    “a nearly 60-year-old Christmas tradition ” – that means that for about 1970 years after Jesus’s supposed birth the tradition was to not have a nativity scene present.

    I could be wrong but if length of time determines tradition 1970 years is longer than 60 years.

  9. DaveL:

    Pontius Pilate was exactly the same kind of administrator.

    No, quite the opposite in fact. When faced with an angry mob of religious conservatives, Pilate gave in to their demands.

  10. democommie:

    “If Jesus had gotten 5 years with time off for good behavior, there wouldn’t be any xianity.”

    Pilate was trying to be a decent guy. Jesus was a good shit, changed water into wine when the occassion demanded; raised a guy from the dead from time to time; did some outreach to the hookers and lower classes. So there were graven images of him with small boys on his lap at the Sermon on the Mount? So fucking what? Gerry Sandusky he was not!

  11. John Hinkle:

    Their attorney will ask a federal judge Monday to resurrect the depiction of Jesus’ birth…

    Hmm, I see what the author did there.

    …said Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee that is suing.

    One wonders what they’ll do with any surplus cash. One wonders.

  12. TxSkeptic:

    My local county owned public library has put up a nativity scene for as long as I’ve lived in this small community. It is directly across the street from a monstrous baptist church that never shows any sign of the season. Go figure.

  13. Ed Brayton:

    Christopher wrote:

    In fairness, though, in the form “They are all alike founded on fables and mythology” the quote has been in circulation for more than a century. Casual research could lead one to conclude that the source (Remsburg, John E. (1906). Six Historic Americans) is accurate despite being strongly suspect.

    Yes, this misquote, like many of those used by David Barton, was invented by someone else. We still need to stop using it though. Remsburg’s work was mostly garbage.

Leave a comment

You must be