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SaMo Bans Atheist-Infiltrated Nativity Scenes in Palisades Park

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At a hearing that we assume did not include a spirited rendition of John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)," the Santa Monica City Council decided to discontinue winter installations at Palisades Park, reports the Santa Monica Patch. The decision will end a 60 year tradition of life-sized dioramas depicting the Christmas nativity scene at stalls in Palisades Park. The controversy arose last year when atheist groups bested the lottery system used to assign the limited available spaces for the installations, commandeering most of the spaces for pronouncements of a more secular quality. The city council struggled for weeks over the issue, punting on a vote at an earlier hearing and exploring some very creative worst-case scenarios for the future of the tradition--including a gigantic sign refuting the events of the holocaust or a picture of Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Leatherface standing over the wee baby Jesus. The city council hearing leading to the ban was a contentious affair: 30 speakers from both sides of the issue debated the implications on the separation of church and state and the First Amendment. In the end, the city council chose the ban over several alternatives, including a request by the Santa Monica Nativity Committee to reserve 14 spots every year for Christian representation. City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie said that the First Amendment prohibits from picking and choosing between displays. The city council also reported receiving physical threats in response to the ban.
· Council Bans Nativities, All Winters Displays [Santa Monica Patch]