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Santa Monica Completely Bans Nativity (And Anti-Nativity) Scenes

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For more than 60 years, the city of Santa Monica has allowed Christians to put up a nativity scene in the walkway along Ocean Avenue every December. But this week the city voted to ban nativity scenes altogether.

The city council said that as much as they didn't want to do away with the holiday tradition altogether, they were worried about 1st Amendment lawsuits and increased nastiness that seemed to be at odds with what you might call the holiday spirit, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.

Last year the city held a lottery allowing atheists or folks of any religious persuasion to put up their own December display. Atheists ended up winning the lottery for most of the spaces, pissing off the traditionalists.

The city council figured that it would only get nastier next December, and the city could be put in the awkward position of having to display submitted through the lottery: a Holocaust denial or Leatherface standing over baby Jesus, Santa Monica Patch noted. But Santa Monica couldn't reserve the spaces on city property for specific religious groups without opening up the group to lawsuits.

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"I feel like we are setting up a ring for a competition - one that is getting nasty, and that is certainly not in the Christmas spirit," said Councilman Terry O'Day.

Christians showed up to protest the ban, calling atheists "scrooges" and "grinches," but the city council's vote for the ban was unanimous.