Atheists scored big in a lottery that gave them 18 out of the 21 spaces traditionally reserved for the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, a coalition of 13 churches, and the Santa Monica Police Officers Association for the last 60 years. The coalition got two of the spaces in the new lottery system, and a spokesman for the coalition of the city's churches is crying foul, despite the fact that the atheists only used three of the spaces:
"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.
Conspiracy theories aside, the atheist messages went as follows:
One reads: "Religions are all alike — founded upon fables and mythologies. — Thomas Jefferson."
"Happy Solstice," reads another.
CBS News reports that City Attorney Marsha Moutrie wrote, however, that the Christmas displays cross the boundary into First Amendment free speech rights, which know no geographical boundaries.
"Everyone has equal rights to use the streets and parks for expressive activities, irrespective of residency," Moutrie wrote.