Atheists Crowd Out Calif. Park Nativity Displays

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Atheist groups are working to drive Christ out of Christmas in one California town.

For years, churches in Santa Monica have set up a nativity scene in Palisades Park. In the past, they've used 14 out of the park's 21 spaces for the scene.

But this year the city started a new lottery system to distribute those spaces.

Atheist groups won 18 spots but chose to decorate only three. Fifteen spaces are empty. 

Two churches and a synagogue were able to claim the remaining three spots.

One atheist display shows Jesus Christ, Santa Claus, and Satan and reads, "37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What myths do you see?"

Another reads "Happy Solstice."

Are you offended when people say "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas?" Join our discussion on Facebook and Twitter. 

"Our belief is that these new applicants have been working together 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 a coalition of the city's churches.

Jameson tried to put pressure on the city to give preference to locals when allotting the spaces.

But City Attorney Marsha Moutrie suggested such a move would be a violation of the First Amendment freedom of speech.

"Everyone has equal rights to use the streets and parks for expressive activities, irrespective of residency," Moutrie wrote.

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