Officials in Santa Monica, California have canceled the beach town's nearly 60-year-old tradition of Christmas decorations after atheist Damon Vix objected to an 18 booth religious display overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Last year, Vix set up his own booths on Palisades Park mocking Christianity and limiting church groups from celebrating the holidays, reports the Daily Mail.
Deputy City Attorney Jeanette Schachtner said in a statement that the decision to ban the Christmas and atheist displays [for everyone] saves the city both time and money while preserving the park's aesthetics.
In 2011, Vix and 10 other atheists entered a pool, where numbers were drawn to determine which of the 21 display spots would go to whom. They won 18 of the spaces.
The atheist displays included a sign that quoted Thomas Jefferson: "Religions are all alike, founded on fables and mythologies," a drawing of the great Flying Spaghetti Monster and a display (picture below) that featured Poseidon, Jesus, Santa Claus and the devil and with the sign: "37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What myths do you see?"
However, local churches, under the name 'Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee,' will ask a federal judge today to allow them to reproduce the depiction of Jesus' birth. They say that atheists have the right to protest, but that freedom doesn't trump the Christians' right to free speech.
William Becker, attorney for the committee, said: "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. Our goal is to preserve the tradition in Santa Monica and to keep Christmas alive."
Federal Judge Audrey B. Collins denied a request from the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee to erect displays depicting the story of the birth of Jesus in Palisades Park, reports the Los Angeles Times (video below).
William Becker, attorney for the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee said: "The atheists won. It's a shame about Christmas. Pontius Pilate was exactly the same kind of administrator."