On California coast, atheists nudge out Nativity scenes
A creche stands in Santa Monica, California, where atheists have legally occupied space normally used for Nativity scenes.
December 22nd, 2011
10:20 PM ET

On California coast, atheists nudge out Nativity scenes

By Michael Martinez and Zohreen Adamjee, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - Every Christmas for the past 60 years, Nativity scenes have dominated two blocks of a park on bluffs overlooking the ocean in Santa Monica, California.

The 14 scenes depicting Jesus Christ's birth have long been a popular attraction among area residents and tourists to the southern California city.

This year, however, atheists have taken over most of the two-block stretch, nearly shutting out and angering a group of churches who contend the atheists have organized against the Christians and gamed a city lottery process allocating the holiday exhibit space.

In response, a leader of the atheist group says he's just looking for evenhanded treatment to present his beliefs in a public space - and goes so far as to say that the city shouldn't even be allowing any religious or even atheist expression in the park.

Read the full story here
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Christmas

soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. arnold layne x

    dear fellow atheists,
    if you don't believe in religion, making out that you're the resurrection is a slightly weird concept. A little humily perhaps. If insisting that a belief in evolutionary makes you superior, then you are applying a modernist filter to an undirected process in evolution. It has yet to be proven that intelligence is a well-adapted behavior (timewise, it's in its infancy) and frankly indications are that it will kill us all (thank particularly to making the atheist symbol an atom – big joke when the mushroom cloud rises).
    Anyhow, seeing as we're all going to wind up equally dead and being right (or not) isn't going to increase your lifespan, it might be an idea to engage in something more life affirming. I hear stamp collecting is wonderful or tell a homeless person that they're beautiful. Anything is more constructive than arguing with the religious until you all die of old age.
    ever yours,

    January 7, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  2. TR

    This happened in communist nations. The result is always to strengthen faith. When militant fanatical atheism takes over then reasonable people are repelled and disgusted.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  3. fre15

    Only strategy Christians has to do is fight for what ever Tradition is going on for years by co-ordinating within the different Christian sects as well as DISPLAYING MORE NATIVITY SCEANS AROUND THE NEIGHBORING HOUSES OF ATHEIST FOLLOWERS especially near the leaders houses for for sure, yea I mean purely private property. then what will they say......

    December 26, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Mirosal

      If you want a nativity scene on your front yard.. hey .. go for it!! I don't care, it's your property. But to use public land supported by tax dollars is ont alright. I am curious though... how will you know which houses belong to Atheists, and just WHO are these 'leaders' that Atheists follow?

      December 26, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • dirty sancheez

      Great Idea, put one near my house, that way I can thumb my nose at it as I walk out the door.

      December 26, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  4. George

    Mer.ry Christmas!

    December 25, 2011 at 2:22 am |
  5. Dryw

    I'm with the atheists on this. I'm an agnostic and I don't need to be constantly hearing the Christians' preaching. If Christians were positive and didn't scream about gays and women needing to be submissive I'd have no problem with them. But the Christians' messages are often hateful and I say enough of it. Plus, atheists and agnostics deserve to have their say.

    December 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • George


      "Plus, atheists and agnostics deserve to have their say."

      Ok, have your say. But why do you have to do it at the same time as a Christian holiday? Can't you choose a different time of the year. This is exactly why it is an attack on Christianity.

      December 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • sorry dryw just jumpin back on for a sec. The reason our money says in god we trust is to bless our nation with God's goodwill. The founders did believe in God afterall. And yes they believed in God. No matter any given INDIVIDUAL's exact denomination/bel

      sorry dryw just jumpin back on for a sec. The reason our money says in god we trust is to bless our nation with God's goodwill. The founders did believe in God afterall. And yes they believed in God. No matter any given INDIVIDUAL's exact denomination/belief there is no doubt that the country was and is chrristian. Sure everyone wants someone on their side and wants to counter a major argument. Seriously this is all much ado about nothing. Preached at? Where how often...and so what. I'm sorry but after all this I have to break down a say get a life.. really you look like kids. dam i was just wrapping presents when i saw all this crap and remebered how dorky somne people are. And no it stillisnt cool to be a dork

      December 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Steve

      So you'd allow them religious freedom as long as they agreed with you. That's not freedom at all.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  6. George

    This is a direct attack on Christianity. I understand that sometimes religious holidays overlap such as Chanukkah and Christmas and consideration has to be given to everyone. However, atheism has no religious holidays. They just want to be as in-your-face as possible. They are worse than the Grinch that stole Christmas. At least, the Grinch saw the light in the end.

    December 24, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Eric G

      I don't care if you want to have a Nativity display. One could make an argument that it should not be on public property, but I do think it is malicious, but traditional in nature.

      As an atheist, I think this is all a bit petty. There are bigger issues than this.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Eric G

      *do NOT think it is malicious......

      December 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • just sayin

      i think you spoke your true opinion with your first comment. it is so you

      December 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Eric G

      @just: So me? I guess I have a fan.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Robin Lionheart

      Last year, there were 14 Christian displays. This year, there's 1 Jewish display, 9 secular displays, and 2 Christian displays. So of course, the Christians cry about how persecuted they are that non-Christians got "their" plots.

      December 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • just sayin

      yeah you speak a fluent bull sh it with a hint of real ass hole

      December 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Dryw

      No one is more in your face than Christians. Anyway, if Christians can express their views than so can atheists.

      December 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • George


      "Anyway, if Christians can express their views than so can atheists."

      Christian displays are more than just an expression of views to us. That's what you don't get.

      December 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • George


      The 9 secular displays are the problem. They are an insult to us Christians.

      December 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Mr. Potter

      Every day is Atheist day....

      December 25, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  7. Jill

    You can take down all Nativity scenes. You can mock Him on a forum. You can try to prevent anyone from saying anything about Him. And He still lives! He is still the Messiah, the Son of God, and our King. He still rules the world with truth and grace. He is still our hope and our God. Forever.

    December 24, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • George


      December 24, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • awasis

      Have any PROOF of this? That's what I thought. But if it makes you feel better go ahead and believe it.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Tom Shriver

      You can put up all the "Nativity" scenes you like. You can mock Atheists on a forum. You can try to prevent anyone from saying anything against Him. And yet we live! "He" was never the "Messiah", the Son of "God", or our "King". His followers have no more truth and grace than the rest of us. We still have hope in a better life in THIS world. Forever.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Sue

      In your opinion, and all this is just an opinion, or superst.ition, without evidence.

      December 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Mr. Potter

      There are 850.000.000 non believers and 1.5 billion christians guess which number is growing.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Mr. Potter

      Just to clarify...the answer is non believers. 4% a year. Christianity shriinks 1% a year.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:15 am |
  8. Robert

    They are more ant-Christian bigots than they are atheists.

    December 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • perpetual

      the early christians were indeed victimized in horrible ways. but each passing century, the victimized became the victimizer.. even down to this century. but when non-believers have learned to push back, christians are frightened of losing their cultural and political power. that is a nice way of saying, we don't have to be slaves to your religion anymore.

      December 24, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Sue

      Let's also remember that the Christians brought most of it upon themselves with their insistence that their's was the only true god and faith. The Romans would have accepted them better if they showed any tolerance towards the many other religions in the empire. Same today. It's some Christian's intolerance towards all other sets of belief that gives the whole lot of them a bad name.

      December 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • william

      I think it was the early non-believers who suffered terribly. Remember the inquisitions? People being flayed alive, torn limb from limb, eviscerated, burned alive? All in the name of your holy book, your messiah, and your God. No wonder there are so many Christians... it's been passed on through generations and backed by the threats of terrible tortures and murder. And now, in many communities, you couldn't be elected dogcatcher, and will be routinely dismissed, gossiped about, and ostracized if you aren't a "believer". What a ridiculous notion... to live your whole life insisting on the truth of something for which there is no proof, which was only passed on through the centuries under threat of death, about a book written by people unknown centuries after the events supposedly happened. Pretty gullible, folks.

      December 27, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  9. Atheist #1

    Great Secular Charity http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Pages/home.aspx

    December 23, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  10. Atheist #1

    Great Secular Charity http://www.unicef.org/

    December 23, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  11. Atheist #1

    Secular Charity http://www.unicef.org/

    December 23, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  12. Atheist #1

    Secular Charity http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Pages/home.aspx

    December 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  13. Atheist #1

    This is Fine! Whats wrong is When They Fight Science and Praise Creationism, which has created nothing but Republican Psychobabble. the Church Condemns Gays when they know they exist in their Own Church, and are molesting Kids. Or how they want the world with limited Resources to be So overly Populated that we create a Inevitable Human Die Off.

    December 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      What about openly Gay and Lesbian churches? Is there a specific church you are speaking of or are you lumping all the Christians into a single monolithic group?

      December 24, 2011 at 5:19 am |
    • Steve

      So in addition to wanting to censor people who don't agree... you label entire groups. Sounds like you are what you claim to hate. A bigot for censorship.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  14. RP

    I don't believe that these atheist represent the majority. These are the ones that give atheists a bad rap. I can understand how they feel. The feel left out because they are surrounded by believers. I'm sorry, but it's wrong to ask (or force) people to stop talking or displaying something that makes you uncomfortable. They are using "separation of church and state" as an excuse to stop something that makes them uncomfortable. I respect most atheists, but not the ones that try to stop something because it makes them uncomfortable.

    December 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Motar

      Agreed, RP. Seem more like anti-theist than atheist.

      December 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • AHHH

      They're uncomfortable because they see this as unconsti.tutional, not because they feel left out. grow up.

      December 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Atheist #1

      If they have to see The Churches crap in a public space then Atheist have a right To Present their world view aswell.

      December 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • bob7483

      I disagree. Atheists have the right to use the display space too.

      December 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • william

      The problem is with using taxpayers money, including that of the non- believers, to promote a particularreligion. Keep these displays private, and keep taxpayers money out of it, and you will hear no complaints.

      December 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  15. James V.

    Ah yes... those crazy militant Atheists and their quest to hide the fact that the US was a nation created on the Christian faith... only it wasn't.

    The reality is that the US was created based on the Enlightenment Movement, not the Church. They did not ban religion but made it abundantly clear that there would be no OFFICIAL religion. Yes many of the men who founded our nation were Christians, but they were RATIONAL Christians who were also heavily influenced by the Enlightenment. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone in America who fits that description nowadays. And to be honest the Church was very much opposed to the Enlightenment, which really is not terribly surprising but what is surprising is that those founding fathers found a way to combine them both – there's something for you Christians to chew on, proof that it can be done. If the Church had had it's way we'd still be treating women as second class citizens and all of you Christians would not own a bible but rather would have to go to the Church to hear what it had to say on the matter. It's funny how people forget so quickly what really happened and replace it with ridiculous fantasy scenarios.

    This whole holiday brouhaha is silly frankly. Christmas was usurped by the Church to replace an older pagan holiday celebration. That's what the Church did, usurp. They did it with many holidays. It was the only way they could get the masses on board because the people were not about to give up their celebrations so the Church slapped Jesus on them and called them Christian holidays. So don't get all high & mighty thinking your way is right or better – history and facts are not on your side.

    December 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • howlyn

      Well written and true. Thanks.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • bob7483


      December 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  16. Reality

    The following should be posted at the topic area and next year forward no government land should be used for holiday displays of any sort:

    "And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva
    in the brain of Jupiter."

    – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    And based on the studies of many contemporary NT scholars, another recommended sign:

    Conclusion: Christmas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi, Holy Innocents Day and the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.

    December 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • .........

      the above should be removed forever hit report abuse on all reality posts

      December 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Observer


      What do you have against one of our greatest presidents?

      December 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • bob7483


      December 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  17. The Central Scrutinizer

    And behold, Joseph and Mary held the baby E.T. in swaddling clothes. Then suddenly, he said, "Beeeee Gooooooood!" and pursed his lips together in what could only be called.....a grimace of sorts.

    Next a darling little blond girl said ecstatically, "I will, I will!"

    And that is the story of how Christmas began. And of course the Yule Tide favorite, "Turn on your Heart Light". What a classic!

    So you better be good for goodness sake! Happy Holidays!

    December 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  18. The Central Scrutinizer

    Here is my pre-Nativity scene:

    The "previously" virgin Mary having extra-marital intercourse with a sheep-herder just as Joseph walks in (early from work). Mary! Mother of God what have you done??

    Oh, honey.....ahhhhhh.....I can explain......you see this is an Angel! Yes that’s it, an Angel and we are going to (shooo stupid get out of here) um, we are going to be blessed with the son of God! (you forgot your socks you idiot!) so um, let us Rejoice!

    Whatever w,h,o,r,e. Get me a goblet of drink and shut it.

    December 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Again, this is re-posted for George. I thought he would get a kick out of it but he has browser issues.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      George, page 3. We are on page 3 now. Come on keep up.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
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