Nativity scene ban: Should religious displays be allowed in public spaces?

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Is a ban on Nativity scenes on public property fair?

A federal judge tentatively ruled Monday that the city of Santa Monica may ban Nativity and other seasonal displays in public spaces.

The case, which has drawn national attention, denies a church coalition’s request that the court require the city to allow Nativity scenes to be displayed in Palisades Park this year, as it has for nearly 60 years.

PHOTOS: Battle over Christmas displays

The coalition has erected a tableau of scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ since 1953. A few years ago, the tradition offended Damon Vix, an atheist, who applied to put up a booth next to the Nativity story. After a contentious lottery for display slots, the City Council voted to ban all private, unattended displays in city parks.


Readers are split on whether the ban is a move toward separation of church and state or a move away from freedom of speech.

A reader, who gave the screen name Boogaloo on the Bungalow, grew up seeing the displays and said they add character to the surroundings.

‘I didn’t even see them in a religious context. I understand the argument against them, but personally, I see nothing offensive or objectionable about them, and I’m sorry to see that they’re no longer allowed.’

Reader Robert Maheu asked why atheists care so much.

‘I’m a Christian and not looking to take away anyone else’s celebration of their beliefs.... Why are Athiest’s trying so hard to take away my celebration of my beliefs?’

Others, in favor of the ban, wrote that public land shouldn’t have the endorsements of specific religions.

What’s your take? Should the Nativity scenes be allowed or is the ban fair? Let us know in the comments section or by tweeting @LANow.

Should Nativity scenes be banned from public areas?

Storified by @lanow’s curation of social media · Tue, Nov 20 2012 14:38:19

@WillMarotti @LANow Since Santa means saint in spanish does Santa Monica have to change it’s name???Steven Brass
Judge denies bid for Nativity displays in Santa Monica via @lanow What religion do you practice, judge? Maybe we should ban that?Lil’Talker
@HBwriterMike @LANow Atheists won’t be satyisfied until Santa Monica changes it’s name.Joseph Smith
They’re a tradition here in #boyleheights RT @LANow: L.A. Now Live: Should Nativity scenes in public spaces be banned? Neighbors
@LANow Should everything and anything you write that can be read by the public be banned? #FREEDOM #USAMichael Posner
@MisNeighbors @LANow Yes, they should be. Tradition does not absolve one’s actions in a secular society.Julio

Santa Monica College to restore winter session

Explosion triggers evacuation at downtown Caltrans headquarters

Facebook posts shed light on Southern California terror plot suspect

--Samantha Schaefer