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. The Central Scrutinizer

    The next couple of posts are for George because he has never figured out his browsers back button (that's true!)

    I dislike Christmas and its hypocritical Capitalist retail nonsense. If a Christian has more lights and blow up globes and blinking reindeers does that make them a better Christian? Better them their neighbor?

    No, it makes them an energy waster, with no conscious of the waste and the larger energy su-cking footprint their bloated American Christian Right Wing ego is digesting. It is disgusting and they are disgusting. Hey, burn a candle. Be humble. Pray if you want, but enough with the fourth of July display.

    Every evening lately I drive through my neighborhood trying to decide who’s Jesus is the biggest Rock star. One block close by my house could probably illuminate a village in Africa for a month. These people are irresponsible as are the churches the promote this kind of lunacy.

    Give? YES! Of course. Give throughout the year and give to people who NEED, not people who WANT. Take you tax break, make your money worth something.

    Christians are a sick lot and I agree, their “Nativity” scenes are great toilets.

    Aim straight and short them out.

    December 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      All my lights are LED's, so please just...passover.

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

      Good Sean, I wish there were more like you. You are in a tiny minority.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • George

      You are mixing up secular Christmas displays with religious displays. I'll bet that many of those houses you see with all those lights don't really know what it means to say that Jesus is the reason for the season. For what it's worth, I do not have such displays.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Eric G

      Just like all good atheists, I run my christmas lights with a generator that is powered by captive believers to whom I feed ground up kittens and energy drinks.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      @George: I haven't counted them, but many if not most of them have a nativity illuminated by a couple of 100 w floods. Good for you though! Still, just IMAGINE the amount of power being wasted during the holiday season. It is truly obscene.

      @ Eric G: LOL

      December 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  2. Robert

    Atheists have great faith in the delusional statements such as "there is no god" and their inane dogma that the universe produced itself out of a steady steady state of absolute nothing without a cause. I don't have enough faith to be an atheist. Unfortunately however, they tend to be very intolerant of theistic religions and try to interfere with theists practicing their religion or celebrating holy days (holidays.)

    December 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Merry Christmas George.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Robert, I will get in trouble for re-posting but this is how I feel:

      I feel the most exciting thing about atheism (weak atheism in my case, or Temporal Agnosticism) is that no possibilities are ruled out. One can revel in the cosmos and the joy of learning without the burden of guilt.

      Just as Einstein, Hawking and many other thinkers of our time and space, the universe still holds many secrets, and those secrets are far more enjoyable when you don't have a pre-disposition to a belief in any God; whatever shape that may take.

      How can we think freely and explore scientifically the theories of the multi-verse, string theory, intelligent life on other planets, space travel and what preceded the Big Bang when we are anchored to the Earth by a ball and chain called religion?

      It is enough to look up at the Milky Way and say, “here is my church”.

      I am not commanded to worship. I am COMPELLED to be astounded by its magnificence. And no matter what you believe or say, none of us has the slightest idea what will happen when we die.

      So live and learn, then die knowing you have embraced life. Be nice and fear not.

      Happy Holidays

      December 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      You'll have to show me where in your doctrine that displaying nativity scenes on public grounds is necessary for the practice of your religion.

      Because if it's not, then we're really not interfering with anything.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      Either the universe just existed or God just existed and created the universe. Both theories recquire that something "just existed", whether God or stuff.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Oh it's important. Maybe not as important as giant inflatable snowglobes, blinking reigndeer and Christmas lights that suck up enough energy to fuel a small nation, but it's important!

      December 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Sanjoy Das

      >>Atheists have great faith in the delusional statements such as "there is no god"
      >>and their inane dogma that the universe produced itself out of a steady steady
      >>state of absolute nothing without a cause.

      Then you know zilch about atheism or modern cosmology. That is nowhere close to what I say, and I'm an atheist.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Eric G

      @lunchbreaker: The universe does exist. We do have verifiable evidence to prove that. So if my choices are "god existed" or "the universe existed", I would go with the universe option.

      Before you can make claims about the actions of something, you first need to prove that it is capable of performing those actions. Before you can do that, you must provide verifiable evidence to prove that it exists. There is no verifiable evidence that I am aware of that supports the hypothesis that a god or gods exist or existed. But, if you can provide evidence for verification that proves the existence of your god, I would be happy to ammend my position.

      Please provide the evidence and we can get started.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Ironfoot

      First, the universe is not in a "steady state of nothing". Matter is actually poping in and out of existence.
      Second, you can not imagine some small thing appearing one day, but you can imagine a perfect being who always existed? Now, THAT's takes a lot of faith (aka absence of logic).

      December 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • RP

      "You'll have to show me where in your doctrine that displaying nativity scenes on public grounds is necessary for the practice of your religion.

      Because if it's not, then we're really not interfering with anything."

      You are interfering with peoples desire to celebrate something. There is no doctrine or book that says it is necessary to celebrate birthdays. If someone reserved all the picnic areas at a public park, then no one could celebrate their birthday there. It's possible to do it, but it isn't right.

      December 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  3. Jim

    A typical move straight from the Left-Wing Playbook. Learn how an organization works, then infiltrate, subvert, and ultimately destroy it from the inside out. Cancer cells do the same thing, and these sub-humans are a cancer on society.

    Then, when you've destroyed Christmas, go complain about how YOU aren't allowed gay rights, gay marriage, or the ability to uselessly occupy parks for months at a time.

    Congratulations. Your Monkey-in-Chief has taught you well.

    December 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Last I checked that was the CIA play book and well there vary conservative

      December 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Also I have been to the occupy camps there vary religious the billionaires are the Atheist
      and so are gays I haven’t meet many gay atheist, actually I have told Atheist that there are other religions that allow gay marriage and if you play the freedom of religion rout you can shut the Christians up for good,… but they want to be gay without losing their belief in god

      December 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Jim, IF what you believe is true, you would NEVER get into heaven. Happy Holidays.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  4. George

    Here's the difference between a Christian display and an atheist display: A Christian display actually MEANS something to Christians beyond that of the display itself. An atheist display merely acknowledges their lack of faith. All of its meaning is in the display itself which is just a statement of their unbelief.

    December 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Here's the difference between an Atheist display and a Christian display: An Atheist display actually depicts truth (or doesn’t exist at all). A Christian display merely acknowledges the indoctrinated foolishness of Christianity. All of its meaning is in the display itself which is just a statement of their ignorance.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • George

      Even if you think that Christians are deluded, the fact still remains that the Christmas display means something for Christians over and above the display itself.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Ironfoot

      Here's another difference between the displays: the atheists will leave the Religious displays alone, while the Christians invariably vandalize the atheistic ones.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Is it possible that you could exercise a little restraint? Why do you have to display it on such a large scale that fishing boats 200 miles out to see have to look at it. A little humility??

      December 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      *sea* arg matey.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • TR6

      @Georg:”Even if you think that Christians are deluded, the fact still remains that the Christmas display means something for Christians over and above the display itself.”

      Even if you think the UFO buffs are deluded, the fact still remains that the movie ET means something for them over and above the film itself

      December 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  5. David Johnson

    God bless the California atheists! The whole story that this is meant to depict, is ludicrous.

    Jesus was a myth, from birth to death.


    December 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Actually I more likely say Mary was a lying slu.t guilty of fo.rnication and ever one believed her except those in Nazareth which is why she had to flee to Bethlehem to have her bast.ard son

      I mean think about it Mary was 16 Joseph was 22 and a se.xy carpenter you should see the fire in my wife eyes when I take hammer to nail the reason why men chose the trade is to get women do you expect me to believe that these two hot blooded teenagers did not get in on under the Arabian sun

      Isn’t that what the Middle East was about? Hot night, uninhibited people, exotic substances,….da.mn I miss the old days

      December 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Sam Yaza

      This is an actual 2nd century rumor about Mary's pregnancy. It is disputed (of course it is), but makes way more sense than an almighty god, got Him some.

      Celsus (2nd century Greek philosopher and opponent of Early Christianity).stated that Jesus was the bas_tard child of the Roman soldier Panthera or Pantera. These charges of illegitimacy are the earliest datable statement of the Jewish charge that Jesus was conceived as the result of and that his true father was a Roman soldier named Panthera. – Wikipedia

      Tiberius Iulius Abdes Pantera (Latin for "panther"), ca. 22 BCE – CE 40, was a Roman soldier, an alleged rap_ist and/or adulterer, and possibly the Baby Daddy of Jesus. A rumor existed around the second century of the Christian era that a Roman soldier may have ra_ped Mary or had consensual $ex with her. He could have been the father of Jesus. Certainly Roman soldiers would have been tempted to have $exual relations with local women with, or without, consent. They were men in the prime of life and were forbidden to marry until they were forty. – Wikipedia


      December 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  6. George

    This is disgusting. There is no other word to describe it. Christianity is under attack. Just yesterday an atheist was debating with me when I said that Christians are being persecuted right here in the USA. Well, this is a prime example.

    December 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      I guess god should've rigged the lottery then.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Wait a minute...are you CW? I haven't seen that handle in a long time.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Observer


      Everyone should be free to decide for themselves the meaning of life. They should be free to practice their "religion" in their homes and places of worship. Too often Christians want to force their religion on other people, and when those other people demand their freedom of relgion, Christians start screaming that they are being "attacked". It's just hypocrisy.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      The spaces are public property, that are rented out by the city. The lots were obtained legally.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Not persecuting George. Protecting our rights. Big difference.

      You can have your churches and howl at the moon...no one cares.

      As you admitted yesterday, you approve of the Christian Right's attempt to establish a Theocracy with "Jesus" as the Head of State. Problem is, Jesus was, is and always will be, a myth. A crazy Evangelical will be leading the nation.

      Evangelicals make me want to puke.


      December 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Sanjoy Das

      Where were you when Pizarro destroyed the Inca empire, killing Atahuallpa, just because Atahuallpa refused to accept the Bible?
      Where were you when Christians destroyed libraries, burnt invaluable books as they were "secular", after Rome embraced Christianity?
      Where were you when the entire Jewish population in York (England) was forced to commit mass suicide in 13th century England to escape Christian prosecution?
      Where were you during the inquisitions, which was for the purpose of "freeing the land, which has become contaminated by Jews and heretics" all over the world, ranging from Peru to Mexico all the way to Goa (India)?
      Where were you when Sir Francis Drake justified the cruelest form of slavery, because their "souls were being saved"?
      Where were you when Christian retards try to push "creationism"/"intelligent design" into the science curriculum?
      Where were you when Christian fundies tried to remove Bothwell from office in NC as he was an atheist?
      Where were you when a smear campaign was launched against Obama's middle name in 2008?
      Where were you when Pastor retarded Terry Jones tried to burn the Koran?

      I have three words for people like you: SERVES YOU RIGHT!

      December 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You are exactly right.

      If my 13 year old daughter became pregnant, by hook or by crook, the pregnancy would be terminated.

      A clump of cells do not a baby make.

      A tomato seed has all the necessary DNA to become a tomato plant. But the seed is not a plant.
      A chicken egg, contains all the DNA necessary to develop into a chicken. But the egg is not a chicken.
      A spiders eggs contain all the DNA necessary to become a spider. But, the egg is not a spider.
      Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

      And so, a fetus contains the DNA to become a baby. But a fetus is not a baby. It has the potential to become a baby, just as a carrot seed has the potential to become a carrot.

      We must defend our rights:
      "Roe v. Wade: The Supreme Court ruled that a woman has a const_itutionally guaranteed unqualified right to abortion in the first trimester of her pregnancy.
      She also has a right to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester, although the state may limit that right when the procedure poses a health risk to the mother that is greater than the risk of carrying the fetus to term.
      In making its decision, the Court ruled that a fetus is not a person under the terms of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Const_itution." – Wikipedia

      "However, the Court also maintained that the state has an interest in protecting the life of a fetus after viability—that is, after the point at which the fetus is capable of living outside the womb.
      As a result, states were permitted to outlaw abortion in the third trimester of pregnancy except when the procedure is necessary to preserve the life of the mother. " – Wikipedia

      Hence, states allow abortions anywhere from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. The majority being 24.
      The reason the 24 week max is chosen, is because the fetus in not able to live outside it's mother until 21 to 24 weeks, with 24 being the usual.

      The fetus, less than 24 weeks is not a person. The fetus is not capable of feeling any pain until 24 weeks:

      Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, consists of a review of studies conducted since 1997 on the neuroanatomical and physiological development of the fetus. It concludes that fetuses at the 24-week stage of development do not possess the wiring to transmit pain signals from the body to the brain's cortex. Even after 24 weeks, the fetus likely exists in a state of "continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation," due to the presence of chemicals such as adenosine in the surrounding amniotic fluid.

      The womb belongs to the woman. The fetus, in her womb has no legal rights until it reaches a stage that it is able to live outside it's mother's body.

      "One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives."
      — Ayn Rand ["A Last Survey — Part I", The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. IV, No. 2, 1975.]

      Which brings to this:

      13th Amendment : "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

      Women or any part of their bodies, cannot be owned. Not by the government. Not by religious nuts.

      We can't legally force somebody to donate blood to save the life of someone else; it thus makes no sense to legally force a woman to continue a pregnancy that she doesn't want.

      Women are not broodmares. They have the right to abort the parasitic fetus, until the fetus is viable.

      This is not a religious debate. It is about a woman's right to do what she will, with her own body.


      December 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Sanjoy Das

      As Christopher Hitchens was famous for saying: "Religion poisons everything".

      These nasty Evangelicals are dangerous to freedom. They are fascists.


      December 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • dirty sancheez

      Persecuted? Really? Are they burning down your churches? Are you being killed or imprisoned because you are a Christian? You are just being made to make room for other beliefs and lack thereof. Go to China or the middle east, THOSE Christians are being persecuted. What a bunch of PU$$IES.

      December 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  7. Sam Yaza

    hahahaahahahha saint Monica just got bi.tch slapped. Good that should be kept out of publicly funded parks

    December 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  8. Dennis Torrellas

    An Atheist denying someone else their right to exercise their own faith is foolish....
    Think about it this way...if an alcoholic stops drinking...do they have the right to demand that the rest of the world stop drinking because they no longer drink...and now find it offensive? What is wrong with this country...this isn't the same place I grew up only a short time ago...we are heading down the wrong path.

    December 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Nobody denied anybody anything. The religious groups are just feeling ent.itled because no one else had applied to use the locations before.

      December 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Anon626

      Oh ABSOLUTELY!! And sometimes when Im eating doo doo it gets all squishy and runs out of the corners of my mouth.

      December 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Anatomically Bombed

      "Think about it this way...if an alcoholic stops drinking...do they have the right to demand that the rest of the world stop drinking because they no longer drink...and now find it offensive?" Ok, lets take your example and examine carefully. Alcoholic stops drinking, do they have a right to demand that the rest of the world stop drinking? No, they have no right to demand it, but they have every right to suggest it. Ever seen an advert for AA? Are you offended when a non-drinker shows up at your party and respectfully declines to drink? It is not the non-drinkers that have a problem, it's the drinkers demanding everyone accept them as they are and they get upset when some sober person tries to take their keys away or "infringe" on the drinkers rights in any way, even when it's to protect the innocent. Christians are "drunk" with power and the whole idea that there is a "war" on Christmas or Christians is beyond ridiculous. Much like the drunk whos afraid someone is going to take his bottle away, they lurch around and lash out at anyone who's not as drunk as they are which just seems to amuse the other drunks in the room, but from any sober point of view is just disgusting.

      December 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Nice metaphor you get 10 pts, Anatomically Bombed

      December 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Observer

      "An Atheist denying someone else their right to exercise their own faith is foolish...."

      A believer denying someone else their right to exercise their own faith is foolish....

      December 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Sanjoy Das

      >>An Atheist denying someone else their right to exercise their own faith is foolish....

      And atheists (or 'athiests' as fundies tend to spell it) don't have the right to exercise their lack of faith??? There's something called EQUAL opportunity y'know.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • David Johnson


      As far as I'm concerned, the Christians can put up a Nativity Scene in my front yard... If they would stop trying to take over the world. I believe everyone should be able to believe and enjoy whatever myth they choose. But, I don't want them using politics to enslave the rest of us.

      I don't like it when the Christians won't accept other faiths.

      There is no more evidence for a Christian god, than a Muslim or a Hindu god(s). Or Zeus or Isis, for that matter. It all boils down to belief and faith.

      Evangelicals have changed Jesus into a militant being who just can't wait to come back and torture the people who don't agree with them.

      The Christian Right and the Rich, control the Republican Party. The Republicans have adopted Paul as their Messiah. Jesus' advice to the rich and how we should care for the poor and the elderly (honor thy father and thy mother) is not mentioned.

      The Evangelicals are not Christians.


      December 23, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  9. af090391

    I'm an atheist and I totally disagree with what they did. What they did is no better than Christian who try to force their religion on you.

    If you want to change somebody, you must prove through actions and what you say that your way is better. Taking down nativity scenes, a tradition in Santa Monica, through a legal loophole is the opposite of what we should do. It just makes the rest of us atheist look like spoiled and conceited brats.

    December 23, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Eric G

      I agree......... But

      I am not a brat or spoiled...

      Conceited? Yes, but justifiably so.

      December 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Mr. Potter

      Acting like a sheep does not change a wolfs behavior. If you let them take the world your freedom is next.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  10. Anon626

    Make love to my mouth with your hot engorged WeinerSchnitzel!

    December 23, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  11. Anon626

    My dog Spot enjoys crappin out fresh doggy biscuit into my warm wet mouth. Sometime I suck his butthole.

    December 23, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  12. J.W

    Next year we should just compromise and the Christians can have their nativity scene and the atheists can have theirs. Theirs would have like Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Ayn Rand.

    December 23, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  13. Anon626

    Im sittin on the toilet about to pinch a loaf.

    December 23, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  14. Anon626

    Christmas eve you will find me, with my man, sitting without our clothes in front of a roaring fire enjoying warm apple cider and fresh butt brownies!!

    December 23, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  15. Freeman

    I guess captain america is having another meltdown.
    Time to invite Canada to take over!
    Come on guys! Show captain meltdown how Canada does stuff in real life!

    December 23, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  16. Anon626

    Somone, anyone please shoot your white creamy cheddar up my hot pocket.

    December 23, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  17. Anon626

    And you are uneducated, misinformed, and not prepared for intellectual discussion. Thank you for wasting all of our time.

    December 23, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Anon626

      If anyone would care to join me I will be having lunch at the local Penis Buffet!!

      December 23, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  18. Anon626

    Im hungry. Where is the saltines and fresh doo doo spread platter?

    December 23, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  19. Anon626

    ah, someone used my name referencing Satan.

    must be another Christian (prefer using childish tactics in their arguments versus logic and historical facts.)

    Nice try.

    December 23, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Cuervo Jones

      the chidish part would be your anal fixation. stfu

      December 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Sanjoy Das

      Oh – Christians are masters at smear campaigns – from slandering Nero for playing the fiddle when Rome burnt, to labeling Hitler an atheist, they've done it all!

      December 23, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  20. Anon626

    Yes I am a manLover and want to spend the holidays in a Federal Prison pleasing the black menz.

    December 23, 2011 at 10:45 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.