Town Bans Annual Christmas Decorations, A raging fight over a nativity scene leads to a California city banning a holiday tradition. Christmas Canceled in Santa Monica Park, A federal judge in Santa Monica ruled on Monday against a church group’s right to reopen a nativity scene display in a public park.
The ruling comes after a contentious battle between the church group and one prominent atheist in the area, Damon Vix. Just last year, Vix put up a banner with images of Santa Claus, Jesus, King Triton and the Devil that asked “what myths do you see?” right next to the church group’s nativity display. The large nativity display, which depicts 14 religious scenes, and Vix’s banner, were located in a public city park, not on the private grounds of the church.
The argument between the church group and the atheists last year resulted in a great deal of vandalism and upheaval in the community. This year, anticipating the same result, the city of Santa Monica barred both the church group and the secular groups from displaying anything at all.
In suing the city, the church had hoped to argue to the court that it should have the right to display in the park as part of its first amendment rights. The judge, however, solved the problem by ruling that any kind of unmanned display in the park is illegal, religious or otherwise.