Atheist Group Ousts Church Christmas Displays From Santa Monica Park

SANTA MONICA (CBS) — Santa Monica church leaders are outraged after an atheist group displaced them this year from their annual Christmas story display sites at a city park overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Pier.

For the past 57 years, a coalition of 13 churches and the Santa Monica Police Officers Association have sponsored a seasonal display in Palisades Park of 14 dioramas depicting the nativity story.

This year, the group was only permitted to erect three of its displays.

The City of Santa Monica held a lottery for the first time this fall to allocate the temporary spaces in the city park, when 13 individuals applied for the available holiday display sites.

One space went to a Jewish organization, two went to churches, and 18 more were awarded to individuals whose stated intentions were “solstice greetings.”

Now the church group is angry that their crèches remain in storage, while most of the spots awarded to atheists sit vacant.

“Our belief is that these new applicants have been working to displace and push out the nativity scenes from the park, rather than erecting a full display of their own,” said Hunter Jameson, a spokesman for the churches, in an interview with the Santa Monica Daily Press.

One spot not awarded to the coalition displays a “Happy Solstice” sign, situated under a protective cage. Damon Vix helped organize the atheists’ effort, and is displaying a quote from Thomas Jefferson at his space: “Religions are all alike — founded upon fables and mythologies.”

He told the Santa Monica Lookout newspaper “there is a growing secular community in this country that has kept quiet too long,” and said religious displays should be on church property.

“This has been a city tradition for nearly 60 years,” Jameson told the Santa Monica Lookout newspaper. “These new groups applying for permits aren’t even Santa Monica residents, and they are just derogatory to organized religions.”

A deputy city attorney said the government cannot differentiate between applicants for the coveted spaces, and cannot give preference to Santa Monica residents for space used for public speech.

Most of the holiday display spaces awarded to the outside applicants are now vacant grassy areas.

Religious leaders are calling for church bells across Santa Monica to be rung at 3 p.m. Sunday to protest their lack of access to the scenic real estate where the traditional crèches and other religious dioramas have traditionally been displayed.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

  • Carlys

    Shame On This Group For Doing This!!! I Believe If You Are Not From Santa Monica Then Should Not Have Been Able To Apply!!! Merry CHRISTmas!!! I Will Pray For Them!!! There Are No Atheists In Foxholes!!!

    • Matt Dupree

      Religion and god are made up myths. Total garbage. Get real. No more religion, god myths or republicans, get lost. Start living in reality instead of being phony scared people.

      • Sylrac

        I don’t understand. Is god about love, or is he angry, and something to be feared?
        How does fear generate knowledge?
        How is fear wise, and instructional?
        If God created all of the earth and it’s people, why did he create so many different cultures and religions?
        Aren’t they all God’s creation?

      • Carlys

        The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

      • Donna Reiser

        We have a right to our lies like you have a right to yours.

    • Jimbo

      Make sure it’s an angry prayer.

      • love of God

        You are an angry devil.

      • jimbo

        You and Calrys are angry Christians!

    • BuzzLOL

      .. You’re a typical lying religic, I was an atheist/Normal Person in the foxholes… ALL religions are mental illness, an addiction to being lied to, and a psychosis… your FEARS are what caused you to become addicted to religion… Normal People are VASTLY MORE MORAL than any lying religic… the clergy lies for a living…

      • jimbo

        Wel, they DO need to make a living…

  • Stryker 21

    Eliminate every Atheist from the USA.

    • Ken

      I like your message of love.

    • Matt Dupree

      Thank you Athiest groups for trying to get rid of these phony religious Jesus people.
      God is a myth and people should live in reality. Maybe we will progress as a human race. Eliminate church and god worshiping people. Thank you Athiests. And we do not need god to be good people either.

      • Mother Teresa

        Sonny… you should visit my bedroom because I can do so many naughty things to you that would curl your toes and make you scream, “OH GOD YES!!!”

    • Jimbo

      May the peace and love of this Christmas season be with you too…

  • dragoonies

    It’s a lottery. Lotteries don’t care if you’re religious or not. The solution is simple – Instead of whining about it, you should send in more applications next year than the atheist group.

    • pat

      No, the solution is even more simple, use the space you received in the lotto instead of being an a-s-s and leaving it empty. It goes to show that Atheists are just of bunch of a-s-s-holes..Just like you !!

      • Donna Reiser

        I agree. It was assumed they signed up in good faith to get to use it. So if they didn’t use it, they were committing fraud. It is not the same as owning a car. The car is yours. The space belongs to the city, and if you don’t claim it to use it, then it is only fair to let someone else use it. Don’t be greedy.

      • Jesus

        The lotto winners are using it – even if it is their decision NOT to use it. You can’t tell me that because you own a car, you drive it every minute of every day.
        It’s called FREE WILL. Call it one for God.
        Merry F*ing Christmas , pat.

  • Ken

    Uh oh! If your sky god doesn’t see your plastic and wood mannequins, will he smite you?

    if we’re going to allow dioramas to fictional characters, I want to put up something for Harry Potter, which has a much clearer message of love and standing up for what’s right than the needlessly violent and misogynistic Bible.

    • Lori

      Amen, oops. Great comment, agree with you 100%..

  • Carlys

    I Find It Intriguing That Mortal Humans With Their Limited Mentality Would Refer To The Maker Of All Things As Fictional!! Ken Are You Even Ignorant To Believe That Their Was not A Man Named Jesus That Actually Lived??? More Prayers!!!

    • Ken

      I’m being lectured on “limited mentality” by someone who doesn’t appear to understand the basic rules of capitalization.

      If your sky god is omnipotent, why didn’t he just decree, “I forgive everyone’s sins?” Why did he instead feel the need to create a son and then have him tortured to death? How does that translate into “love?”

      • Joe Dionne

        You’ll see.

      • Carlys

        The FOOL has said in his heart there is no God!!! He had to be tortured for our sins!! He was our sacrifice!! We have all fallen short of the glory of God!!

      • Mudoctorii

        Why are you being sooo uptight about something you don’t even believe in. It doesn’t hurt anyone if we choose to believe in God. It doesn’t hurt us for you not to believe in God or the birth of his son. All your ranting does is show how mean unbelievers really are. I hope you have a great Christmas??? or whatever it is you might or might not celebrate.

    • jimbo

      It’s all hearsay evidence. That’s why it’s called BELIEF, Carlys.
      To each his or her own.
      Matthew 7:1

    • Matt Dupree

      believe what you want but don’t push that on other people. Pray to yourself instead of some mysterious god.

    • Lori

      I’m sure there was someone name Jesus and sure he was a great carpenter and that’s about it.

      • Matisyahu

        Jesus also like liked brisket & matzo ball soup. Jesus was a Jew!

  • Atheist Group Ousts Church Christmas Displays From Santa Monica Park | Los Angeles for Me

    […] Santa Monica church leaders are outraged after an atheist group displaced them this year from their annual Christmas story display sites at a city park overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Pier. More from:… […]

  • C.S.

    All you have to do is go to any 3rd world country and see the difference of those who practice Christianity and those who don’t. Those who do are decent people who keep themselves clean and help each other. Those who don’t take every opportunity to help themselves over others and the result is disgusting.

    Atheists are foul and bitter individuals without wisdom who bring a lot of harm to others.

    • James Daley


      Your comment is rather rude and not filled with so called love. Atheists are not foul individual. We choice not to blindly belief in something that provides no proof that it’s real. I respect your belief and you have the freedom to worship whatever you like…..and as a US citizen I have the freedom to do the same. If I choose not believe in your so call “God” then please respect that… I am giving you that same courtesy. If people choose to place signs stating their opinions, please respect that as well. In the end, people don’t need religion. Religion needs people.

    • P Smith

      Oh, like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya and others where christians subject their daughters to the same female genital mutilation (FGM) that the muslims do?

      Or christian countries like Zimbabwe, Uganda, Senegal, Togo, and Liberia in Africa, or Barbados, Jamaica and Belize in the Caribbean where people can be denied rights, imprisoned and even murdered by the state for not obeying specific christian practices and rules? Especially people who aren’t christian?

      Murdering and imprisoning non-christians is a long held christian tradition from the time of the crusades, the inquisition, European imperialism, anti-semetic pogroms (from the middle ages up to Nazi Germany) and anti-muslim wars from Spain in the middle ages to the Ottoman empire until today’s wars for oil. It’s not news except to the wilfully ignorant.


    • Matt Dupree

      another stupid comment. Athiests do not need religion of god to be good people. I bet you voted for bush and cheney.

      • Mrs. Clinton

        Clinton was a great President, despite his sexual desires. I definitely voted for him. But the evil christian george bush and cheney blew it all. talk about evil christians.

      • Mr. Clinton

        Nope…I bet he voted for a good ol’ southern boy….like one from Arkansas & he celebrated with a cigar.

  • Joe Dionne

    Ask yourself why they don’t do this to Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Satan worshipers or any other “religion”.

    • jimbo

      They’re already repressed… BY CHRISTIANS!

  • Jimbo

    “This has been a city tradition for nearly 60 years,” Jameson told the Santa Monica Lookout newspaper
    Slavery was also a tradition for almost 100 yrs. and the southern Baptists complained about that…
    Tradition can be questioned.
    THAT’s what makes out country great!

    • jimpo

      I meant to say,”The Baptists complained when That came to an end too.

      • sm_boy

        Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with them at all. How are they hurting anyone?

      • sm_boy

        So these dioramas are as bad as slavery?

        Sorry, I’m just not seeing it.

      • Jimbo

        Just because something is “traditional” doesn’t make it right.

    • Bg_Boy

      Who’s stopping them from displaying them on church property?

  • Ashley

    im not a hugely religious person but omfg, these people need to shut the eff up and deal with it. the first amendment protects freedom of religion that includes atheists AND christians. the christians have an absolute right to display this. they can be offended all the want but they shouldnt be making someone take down their display when it is their belief and moral right to believe. so much hypocrisy with atheists.

    • Heidi Collings

      Um, I don’t think God does that…..

    • jimbo

      Nobody Made anybody take these displays down. It was a lottery. However, the article was titled in such a way that made it seem as if the Atheists made SM take all of the displays down. Read article above.

      @ Heidi Collins: Free will

  • Graciano Barraza

    Do you see freedom of expression there!

    • Donna Reiser

      Actually, they claimed the plots to keep others from expressing their free speech. They had nothing to say but didn’t want others to say anything either. That was mean-spirited. If Christians are the bigots, then what is that?

  • Heidi Crimmings

    Too bad for the Athiests….there are NO ATHEISTS in Heaven!!!!!

    • Shaggy Dope

      Because there is no such thing as heaven. But there is a hell and you christians are in it. Its called earth.

    • jimbo

      Too bad for heidi… There is no heaven.

    • Donna Reiser

      Thank God. Meanwhile, in Hell…”This isn’t real! I am not on fire! Ouch! That’s irrational! Ouch! Ouch! This place doesn’t exist!”

    • Lori

      Probably because there’s no heaven.

      • Hugh Hefner

        I always try to make a lovely lady feel heavenly and like a beautiful goddess. So…do you want to go to heaven? I know the way….hmmmm?

    • jimbo


  • john

    mean spirited people on both sides guess arguing is more important than charity. according to you beliefs may you have a tragic solstice day or an unhappy christmas

  • jimbo

    Maybe God is punishing americans for perverting the Christmas holiday beyond recognition

  • Peter Leone

    When will you fools understand? Every person on this planet is more moral than your fictitious god ever could be. Good thing it doesn’t exist. If it did, the only logical move would be to try our best to destroy your sky daddy. Now, go learn something productive and not something cruel and barbaric.

    All I know is, even if your evil god DID exist, I’d judge him and not the other way around.

    Happy Holidays!

  • tim

    there is no such thing as PUBLIC LAND think about it if something is open to the public then there can be no open or close time or rules as to what you can do there such as the beach where you can no longer drink a beer. the only way for something to be PUBLIC LAND is if it is not owned by ANYONE if a person owns it or the city, state, county or fed owns it, then it is not truely PUBLIC this park is owned by someone. if the people who put in apps to use pieces of this park have NOT put anything on it or are not ACTIVELY using their aloted space for some purpose then the city or who ever MUST allow the church groups to use it just like they have for the last 60 years

    • jimbo

      Perhaps the people not using the space just want to preserve the view…If they won the lottery like the groups putting up religious displays, they have as much right as those groups to use their little temporary slice of the earth as they se fit.

      By forcing the city to allow any other group to use the space fore something other than the purpose intended by the lottery winner would constitute a breech of contract with the lottery winner.
      I think you’re unsuccessfully trying to define public land as an effort to keep a group of people you don’t agree with, to bend you your “correct” idea.

      public land:
      In all modern states, some land is held by central or local governments. This is called public land. The system of tenure of public…

      A person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.

    • Julio

      Parks close because there is no public assistance after such time. Doing so limits any sort of accident by citizens wishing to attend parks in an unsuitable environment. If an accident occurs within the park’s limits, people have a right to sue (which means the government, which means the public), thereby providing an unnecessary budget for such concerns. If anything, the closing of public parks provides safety for people who believe that attending parks in the middle of the night is a good idea.

      The park is a public forum where anyone is allowed, unless there has been a decree withholding a person from doing so. Just because it is a public institution does not mean that parks can operate sans law. The applications for the allotment were given to anyone, which unfortunately, might not have been taken seriously by churchgoers. Maybe the atheist rendition of celebration is to put nothing. You can argue that such a sentiment is an expression in itself (as the musical piece 4′33″ or Robert Rauschenberg’s “White Paintings”).

      Lastly, such a small setback shouldn’t be ringing an outrage as big as this. If the concern was that the displays were representing bigger things, then it is a shallow demonstration of faith. Instead, how about donating time to the unrepresented. I’m sure that goes a much longer way than displaying plastic sculptures that do not truly represent Judeo-Christianic values.

  • J K

    I don’t have a problem w/ the Athiests of the world. Even if you dont believe in Jesus, you cannot argue with his message.

  • jimbo

    Right on, Brother (or sister)

    • Hugh Hefner

      High five to you! And remember nothing is more precious in life than recording your love…preferably in pictures or to some extent hidden video cameras.

  • Amy

    All religions and this “God” character were created FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE of helping humans cope with death and tragedy. Only people that have been religiously brainwashed from generation to generation think otherwise. I applaud this Atheist group for basically saying enough is enough take all your therapeutic displays out of here. May “God” bless you all…LOL

    • Shaggy Dope

      weird comment. how stupid to say god bless you after that message. oh well, its what I expect from our weird culture.

      • shaggy intellectual

        perhaps a reading comprehension course would be in order for you.
        And you call Amy stupid…

    • USC Trojan Grl

      Very well said Amy. Religions do 3 things very effectively: Divide people, control people and delude people. Religious folks believe its not right to be an Atheist yet they believe in a book that has sticks turning into snakes! Talk about being narrow minded. Brainwashing has indeed overruled common sense hahaha!

      • Hugh Hefner

        You forgot one more thing USC Grl. Religions brings people together. For example my favorite time is when there is a naked female in front of me & I can make her praise Jesus & God. She would be so enraptured in an 0rgasmic feeling that it is truly a miracle & she would speak in foreign tongues. So did you take a foreign language @ USC…hmmm?

    • Hugh Hefner

      I am pretty sure even Atheists have had times times in their lives when they have called out for Jesus or God. I hardly doubt all Atheists are mute when they are engaged in the natural heated, sweaty & physical exerting process of human reproduction. So…how are you doing?

      • Tim

        Amy you are one very smart women. Agree 100%. And “Hugh” of course Atheists have and still do call out for Jesus or God by saying things like “Oh my god” etc but this is voiced out because its an overly used phrase in society NOT because they believe in God. The same applies to the ever-so-famous words “I’m sorry” – its pretty obvious that more then half of the people who say “Im sorry” are not truly sorry at all. Simple concept to understand.

      • Larry Flynt

        The gift of sensing sarcasm is not strong in Tim. Must be against his religion. Oh & “Hugh” I enjoy your work but it needs to be a little more “sinful!”

  • Alan R.

    The vitriol on both sides is impressively disgusting. Think that suggestions only SM residents should be allowed to apply was right on target.
    Atheists are entitled to their belief (or is that non-belief?) system, but shouldn’t be allowed to tilt playing field in communities where they do not reside.

  • The Blogger

    What happened to Freedom of Religion?

    This is one of the main reasons why people came to America in the first place!


    • Ben Franklin


  • Atheist Group Ousts Church Christmas Displays From Santa Monica … | Christmas 2011

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  • God Loves Me

    I wonder what atheists do when they are dying. I bet they start praying and asking God for help. God please help these morons.

    • Matt Dupree

      we die like we are suppose to as a life like any other life form on earth. we don’t cry to god like phony christians.

      • Lori

        Exactly, like my kids say, when you die well you just die, the end.

    • Lori

      Nah, my dad was fine, said he was happy to be worm food. No god, but if that gets you through the day, good for you. Don’t trash others for their beliefs, god wouldn’t like that.

  • Satan

    I find it fascinating that the most vile comments are coming from the people trying to defend the display if the nativity scenes. Xtians claim that Muslims have a violent nature.
    Take a breath, read your bible – before you become what you hate.

  • God

    These posts are making me angrier than I already am.
    Beware that I might smite thee and thy people with pestilence.

    • Matt Dupree

      go ahead, nothing will happen. like nothing happens when you wish for stupid things from god. But I expect stupid people because the american public voted in two of the most evil people in office twice. All in the name of christianity – the evil bush and cheney. they declared war in the name of christianity. what a bad religion.

      • barack

        Right on Matt Dupree – and thanks to the muddled Republican Presidential candidates, It looks as if I’m headed for a second term, with Nancy regaining the speaker seat.
        The religious right has bitten off far more than they can chew!
        Thanks for your support

      • Matt Dupree

        I love Obama. Thanks to everyone who voted in a good person who helped people in need instead of being like the republicans who didn’t want to give any assistance to struggling people. But the republicans will keep giving money and aid to rich countries and tax breaks to the wealthy, etc., etc. republicans are for the rich man and they are conservative christians who love to go to war to make contractors rich on taxpayer’s dime. Thank you Obama for being President.

      • The White Barack Obama

        True dat…true dat! Mr. Duu-preeee! Thank you for your support my brotha!!!

      • A.R.

        “Why am I an atheist? I ask you: Why is anybody not an atheist? Everyone starts out being an atheist. No one is born with belief in anything. Infants are atheists until they are indoctrinated. I resent anyone pushing their religion on me. I don’t push my atheism on anybody else. Live and let live. Not many people practice that when it comes to religion.”

        – Andy Roony
        Boston Globe, 30 May 1982

    • g

      “Beware that I might smite thee and thy people with pestilence.”

      About displays in parks? You need to chill out, God.

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