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Dec 03 2012

Atheist Victory in California Reported in the Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/01/santa-monica-nativity-scene-atheist

Be sure and check out the comments. Happy reading. There is still hope.

Edwin

9 comments

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  1. 1
    rapiddominance

    In your opinion, would a Santa Clause display (rather than a nativity scene) constitute a church/state violation?

    Or what about state and federal employees hanging stockings or playing “Secret Santa” at the jobsite? Must these things ALSO go?

    1. 1.1
      Outback Jack

      Perhaps, but only if one would think that Santa Claus is a Religious icon. Is he?

      1. rapiddominance

        My answer would have be “No”.

        Now that I think about it, I’m a little embarrassed at having asked the question in the first place. Nativity scenes serve as point-blank depictions of a certain religious narrative. Santa Claus, reindeer, stockings, and Christmas trees obviously do not.

        Thanks for helping me work my way through this.

    2. 1.2
      nakarti

      Santa display: Commercial conflict of interest; the current Santa is a Coca-Cola advertising figure. This should be in a similar class to taking bribes, but it’s inappropriate conduct that is not strictly illegal.

      Employee display of their holiday: you get it wrong, permitting them to do this is the same guarantee of governmental secularism as not granting exclusive access to a nativity scene: Banning such displays at (government) work would be an establishment clause violation, except in the unlikely scenario where *all* religious displays are banned.

  2. 2
    Ken

    @rapiddominance

    Santa Clause has very little connection anymore with Christianity (or other pagan religions which were also associated with the the same mythology). In fact, many Christians object to associating Christmas with such secular displays. Secular displays by government seem fine by me under church/state separation law in the US. Perhaps I could be convinced otherwise…

    State employees can, of course, have personal items in personal space, such as on their desks in a back office or locker. Where it gets tricky is when the employee works at a public counter or their desk is open to the public. Again, though, reasonable secular displays are generally fine so long as they don’t interfere with the business being done.

    As for secret Santa, I just don’t see where there’s a problem with that at all, so long as it’s not imposed on staff by managers. That’s just like getting together in a pool for March Madness or a lotto group. Government employees can even, during normal break times, gather in a back room and have a prayer meeting.

    In fact, if requested, managers even have to (and should) make reasonable accommodations for such religious practices. For example, they can put aside a small area for Muslims to have room to lay out a prayer mat and should even be allowed to take a break (if reasonably possible) for prayers at the proscribed times of day.

    What most US Christians don’t get (coming from a position of privilege) is the difference between accommodating the personal religious actions of individuals and having the government promote a specific religion (or religious position) exclusively.

    I thought the Santa Monica case demonstrated some of the issues well. For example, the state could either allow the park to be an open forum, allowing all views to be displayed, or prevent any non-attended display. To accommodate freedom of speech, anyone can still get up on a soapbox and preach or lecture, but they need to take that soapbox home when they leave.

    Separation of church and state is a law of the land for a good reason. It’s nice to see it being applied more often.

    1. 2.1
      rapiddominance

      I thought the Santa Monica case demonstrated some of the issues well. For example, the state could either allow the park to be an open forum, allowing all views to be displayed, or prevent any non-attended display. To accommodate freedom of speech, anyone can still get up on a soapbox and preach or lecture, but they need to take that soapbox home when they leave.

      This works for me.

  3. 3
    anubisprime

    rapiddominance @1

    I cannot speak for Mr Kagin, but the myth of ‘Santa’ has no religious basis.

    How can it when Coca Cola basically invented the present day meme?

    How can a kiddies tale be viewed in any other context?

    One is not synonymous with the other apart from the status of myth.
    But I see very little attempts to impose the concept of ‘Santa’ into school science classes or impose strict ‘Santa teachings’ onto society at large!

    And the founding fathers never mentioned that Santa / State should be separated.

    As for hanging stockings and playing ‘secret Santa’ well once a year is one thing but everyday of the year, especially on Sunday, seems a little excessive!

    1. 3.1
      rapiddominance

      I suppose that this line of reasoning would also apply to Christmas trees or decorative lights.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  4. 4
    abbeycadabra

    >> Becker accused “liberal Irish Democrats” and other leftwing factions in the city council of buckling following similar campaigns…

    Liberal *Irish* Democrats? *There’s* a racism you don’t see in the wild much any more.

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