A federal judge Monday ruled that Santa Monica, Calif., may ban seasonal displays in parks and other public places, including the prominent Nativity scenes that are put up every holiday season in the city’s Palisades Park. The tentative ruling was a victory for atheists, who brought the lawsuit against the city.

“The atheists won on this,” said attorney William J. Becker Jr., who represented the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee. He added that the outcome marked “the erosion of First Amendment liberty for religious speech.”

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, had a different take. “Religion is innately divisive and just doesn’t belong in public parks,” she said. “There are tax-exempt churches on every other corner. Why isn’t that good enough?”

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The Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee, which has been staging the scenes for almost sixty years, has promised to appeal the decision, because this is a fight that will continue forever, long after every living human descendant has forgotten what a nativity is.

This, of course, is only the beginning in what is sure to be a series of brutal escalations in the Christmas Wars. Both sides will issue desperate, violent salvos in an effort to maintain their eternal brinkmanship. Everyone will protest everyone else’s courtrooms and churches. It won’t be long before we start to see nativity scenes that are able to offer active resistance against any attempts at removal.

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— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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