That lovely time of the year when the culture wars flair up. In this case, the city of Santa Monica, California has thrown up their hands at a battle between Christians who want to set up nativity scene, a long running tradition in the city, and atheists who chose the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” route.
Last year, a coalition of atheists joined a city run lottery to display their message in the park during this time of year. Thing is, so many applied that they garnered most of the spots and the Christians didn’t think that it was fair for them to finally, after 60 years, have a say.
This year, Santa Monica decided, sadly, but wisely, to run away from the problem, and the Christians are suing them for it. Apparently it costs Santa Monica loads of money to administer this program and, hearing people scream at them for fairly giving away too many spots to those godless heathens probably didn’t make them want to do it again this year.
So the Christians are now suggesting that the atheists have a right to protest but that doesn’t trump the religious groups right to free speech. That seems reasonable, except they’re suing the city not the atheists, who, indeed, are not a party to this case at all.
It is a little sad that this long running tradition has been ended by the skirmish, but, like many traditions, perhaps it has finally run its course and, our enlightened society has learned that forcing the views of the many on the rest, no matter how gently, isn’t something that governments need to support. So, while the right leaning media will gleefully report on this tiny salvo in the culture wars, I have to wonder if the judge won’t just throw out this frivolous case, as the city will so easily argue that costs, (and trouble) trumped their freedom of speech much more than last years coalition of atheists.