Atheists get Santa Monica Nativity’s display spaces in park
For nearly 60 years at Christmastime, Christian congregations from Santa Monica have come together to organize a life-sized Nativity scene, using 14 display areas in a city park to illustrate the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
This year, however, the story had to be abridged.
Because of a city lottery system to dole out available spots in Santa Monica’s Palisades Park, along Ocean Avenue, atheists have been able to claim most of the display spaces traditionally used for the Nativity, leaving room for only three of the scenes.
Damon Vix, an atheist, had a display last year that included a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike — founded on fables and mythologies.” And this year, he told the Santa Monica Daily Press that he encouraged other atheists to join him.
“For 60 years, it’s almost exclusively been the point of view of Christians putting up Nativity scenes for a whole city block,” Vix told the Daily Press.
But the group that has long organized the Nativity scenes bristled at the atheists’ move, saying it upends a long-standing winter tradition for the city — and impedes their freedom of expression.