A federal judge struck down a Christian group’s attempt to keep the Palisades Park open to private nativity displays, ending a 60 year Christmas tradition.
"The atheists won and they will always win unless we get courts to understand how the game is played and this is a game that was played very successfully and they knew it," said William Becker, the attorney representing the Christian group.
The conflict began three years ago when atheist Damon Vix set up a booth attacking religion in Palisades Park next to a booth about the story of Jesus Christ’s birth. Last year he recruited other atheists to raid the application process, winning 18 of 21 spaces for display in the park.
Atheists didn’t have to do anything to push Christmas out this year; Santa Monica officials decided to end the displays before the fight even began. Deputy City Attorney Jeanette Schachtner said churches can still carol in the park or stage a play about the birth of Jesus.
The Santa Monica Scenes Committee doesn’t have a problem with the atheists right to protest.
"If they want to hold an opposing viewpoint about the celebration of Christmas, they're free to do that -- but they can't interfere with our right to engage in religious speech in a traditional public forum," said Becker. "Our goal is to preserve the tradition in Santa Monica and to keep Christmas alive."