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Atheist insists on lose-lose scenario in nativity fight

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 19th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

For nearly 60 years, the city of Santa Monica has showcased a series of dioramas featuring the Nativity of Christ, but thanks to atheist involvement, the nativities are going away. Rather than fight with the atheists, the city has decided to do away with the displays altogether.

SANTA MONICA, CA (Catholic Online) -  The nativity scenes used to attract visitors from across Los Angeles, but now there will be nothing to see. And although churches are suing the city to get their nativities back, it's unlikely they'll win.

The atheists are sitting back, enjoying the courtroom festivities between the churches and the city, entirely uninvolved.

What happened?

Three years ago, Damon Vix, 44, a self-proclaimed atheist, decided to apply for a booth amongst the other nativity scenes. However, instead of depicting a scene from the nativity of Christ, Vix used his space to proclaim an atheistic message, quoting Thomas Jefferson, "Religions are all alike - founded on fables and mythologies." Adding, "Happy Solstice."

It didn't seem like a very nice thing to do.

In 2011, Vix upped the ante significantly, collaborating with 10 others to devour all the available space for the nativity scenes. He won 18 of the 21 spaces that are traditionally awarded by the city via lottery.

They used only half of those spaces, displaying atheistic propaganda in them.

Most of their signs were subsequently vandalized by angry residents, and a full-blown debate erupted. Rather than deal with the arguments and inevitable lawsuits, the city announced that it was ending its tradition.

In response, several churches founded the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee and sued, claiming that while atheists have the right to their opinions, they do not have the right to silence Christian free speech.

This is true.

Currently, the city allows churches to celebrate in parks and to hand out literature and assistance to those in need.

However, the city has no apparent obligation to hold the annual lottery and administer the event, particularly in a time of fiscal austerity. The city has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit from the committee.

Now a judge must decide if he will compel the city to continue the Christmas tradition or if the city is allowed to abandon it altogether.

Even if the atheists win and the tradition is killed, it will not kill belief in God, which existed before the tradition, and perhaps a bit more strongly in its wake. They will however, have an empty park devoid of tourists and revenues that the city might otherwise enjoy. So even though the atheists won, they pretty much won -- nothing.

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