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Author Topic: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle  (Read 7475 times)

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Offline Stattick

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2012, 01:14:38 PM »
I feel like I'm the only one that read the linked article. Maybe it's just that I'm the only one that thought that this was a good thing that happened and had a good resolution?

So normally, Santa Monica had a big old huge nativity scene in the local, publicly owned city park. Now normally what happens these days, is that some people don't like the nativity scenes (or maybe it's a GIANT CROSS in the park, or Bible verse at the court house, or whatever). Maybe they're not Christian. Maybe the religion has done bad things to them or their loved ones in the past. Maybe they just strongly believe in the separation of church and state and think that public lands/buildings should not be a billboard for specific religions. Maybe they have other reasons, or some combination of the above reasons. It doesn't matter - to them, the religious stuff on public land is offensive. On private land - well, people can and do put up whatever the hell they want on private land. People leave Obama hanged in effigy from the trees in their front yard and no one can do a damn thing about it because it's covered under the first amendment as free speech. But on public lands, we don't have to put up with religions bullying their way in and making everyone look at their stuff.

Normally what happens, is that one or more people sue or get the ACLU to sue on their behalf to have the religious stuff taken down because of separation of church and state. Then there's a long, expensive court battle. This time, someone just went to the city and asked for equal representation. The city said, "Ok, fine." So the dude put up a sign where he was told that he could put up a sign, that read, “Religions are all alike — founded upon fables and mythologies.” That's a famous quote by Thomas Jefferson by the way. The article implies that he might have had some other stuff written or up in his display, but it didn't detail what. I'm pretty sure that it wasn't anything really bad or newsworthy, otherwise they would have emphasized it.

You have to remember that this is PUBLIC LAND. This is supposed to an area that's for EVERYONE'S usage, not just Christians. It's unfair for one group to put up the equivalent of a billboard in the park, while no one else gets to put anything. It shows a bias for government choosing one group over another. It's intrinsically unfair to anyone that's not in the group that gets to put up their display. That's why the Supreme Court of the United States of America has ruled that in situations like these on public land, that someone else that comes along and asks for equal space shall be given it. So, the Catholic Church has a big giant nativity scene in the public park? Well, if the Jewish Temple wants to put up a giant menorah or Star of David, they have to be given equal space. If someone else wants to put up a giant Flying Spaghetti Monster, they too must be given space. And if I want to put up a kung fu Buddha ripping the spraying, bleeding heart out of dragon and devouring the heart because I think that's super rad, they have to give me equal space too, God help you all.

Um... where was I? Oh... Actually, that was three years ago. Last year, he told other people that they should put in their own applications for equal time, and some did. A Jewish group won a spot and put up something. Some atheists won some spots, and the church won two spots. They had to reduce the size of their display by 7 times, to get it down from 14 spots to 2. Last year, there was some vandalism of one of the atheist's places.

This year, the city decided not to deal with the hassle, the vandalism, or the politics. They're just not allowing ANY public displays. So the churches sued the city, because they still wanted to put up their religious thing in the park, even though the city said "no". The judge tossed the case out; the city is within its rights.

Well, Santa Monica has over 50 churches, so I'm pretty sure that they can find some private land to put up their display in. Meanwhile, people who want to go out and stroll in the park don't have to be assailed with turning a corner and suddenly finding themselves in Jesus Land. Granted, most people probably wouldn't care, and some people would be happy about it, but others would find it highly offensive.

So, it took a few years for it to all play out, but the government didn't have to spend a bunch of time defending itself in court. The only people who are out any money would be the church groups who filed the motion. Filing the suit probably didn't cost a whole lot, but they might have had to pay for their lawyer if they didn't have someone doing it pro bono.

Am I really the only here that sees this as a victory for the good guys? Because if so, that would be kind of sad.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 01:18:16 PM by Stattick »

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #26 on: November 27, 2012, 01:28:53 PM »
Quote
And if I want to put up a kung fu Buddha ripping the spraying, bleeding heart out of dragon and devouring the heart because I think that's super rad, they have to give me equal space too, God help you all.

Are you accepting converts? ;D

Offline Hemingway

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #27 on: November 27, 2012, 02:15:36 PM »
I couldn't find any pictures or quotes with the actual messages put up by the atheists. Without knowing what was actually there, it's sort of difficult to form an opinion.

The banners I've seen put up by atheist organizations in the past have been as inoffensive as can be. As far as vandalism, that really has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with common human decency, or lack thereof.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #28 on: November 27, 2012, 02:21:11 PM »
I will say that in the end.. the city did the most (financially) expedient thing considering that the past events. I see more and more cities doing this as the lawsuits come down the pipeline.

Offline Stattick

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #29 on: November 27, 2012, 03:32:21 PM »
The US is not a Christian nation. We aren't a theocracy. We shouldn't give Christians an unfair ability to put up Christian specific imagery or messages on public lands, public buildings, and so forth. Christians only account for 73% of the US population (CITE). It was 78% just 5 years ago. So, the recent trend has been for the percentage of Americans that consider themselves Christian to drop by 1% per year. Meanwhile, the number of atheists, agnostics, and people of non-Christian faith (like me) continues to rise.

Christians still have unparallelled power in this nation. They have more advertising dollars, people walking around knocking on doors, people advertising on TV or broadcasting services. These are things that most of the non-Christian community either cannot do, or doesn't have an interest in doing whatsoever. I mean, when's the last time someone came knocking on your door and tried to convert you Athiesm, Judiasm, Wicca, or Voudoo? I understand that some Christians feel like their faith is under attack because they're having to take the 10 Commandments out of their court houses, or not put up the traditional manger scene in front of the Town Hall. But non-Christians feel like they're under attack all the time in this country. We're just trying to get the majority to cut it back a bit, and to take their religion out of our government and the public places that our tax dollars pay for, and to show some consideration for those not of their faith. I don't think that's unreasonable.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #30 on: November 27, 2012, 03:37:41 PM »
I agree.. I just wonder if sometimes some of the intent behind some of these actions are a bit of a 'because I can'...

That being said, I think that this time the city did the right thing. In the end, just from the sheer frustration and costs of it..this is the most logical action they could take.

I think that it would make for a much sadder place if this is what kills Christmas lights where I live though. I grew up loving the lights and festiveness of the season.

I really hate polically correct life sometimes.

Offline Stattick

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #31 on: November 27, 2012, 04:04:15 PM »
I agree.. I just wonder if sometimes some of the intent behind some of these actions are a bit of a 'because I can'...

That being said, I think that this time the city did the right thing. In the end, just from the sheer frustration and costs of it..this is the most logical action they could take.

Yeah, in this case I agree.

Quote
I think that it would make for a much sadder place if this is what kills Christmas lights where I live though. I grew up loving the lights and festiveness of the season.

Yeah, agreed. I don't think anything's going to change people's ability to put up whatever they want on their own property though. That should be protected speech. Same thing with businesses, clubs, churches, and so forth - they too should be able to put up whatever they want.

Quote
I really hate polically correct life sometimes.

Yeah... me too. There've been times where I've gotten pretty cheesed off about someone or some group telling me that I shouldn't say something that I've been saying for years, or doing something that I've been doing for years, or something that I like is under attack. My knee jerk reaction isn't any better or more enlightened than anyone else's. I'm usually a bit angry, and I automatically want to resist whatever the proposed change is. Most of the time I come around though, after I've seen enough to convince myself that it isn't a passing fad, and that whatever it is that they want changed has a basis in reality - usually that it's hurtful to some group of people. I swear, I got verbally piled on once for saying, "That's gay" to something when I was in the car with a gay roommate and his three gay friends. It took quite some time before they were able to convince me that they weren't being overly sensitive and that using "That's gay" as a pejorative is genuinely unfair and hurtful to gay people. Political correctness is never fun, and is a real pain in the ass sometimes. But most of the time there is a genuine issue that someone's trying to correct there, and most of the time it boils down to, "Please don't say/do that anymore, it's hurtful to me and to other people like me."

Offline Serephino

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #32 on: November 27, 2012, 04:21:58 PM »
Starting all this shit over a nativity scene is the dumbest thing I've ever...  Seriously, I see no point in getting offended.  Yes, it was on public land, and yes, I agree that other people should be able to share space.  However, the Atheists putting stuff up there about there being no god, I see that as them being dicks.  There was no reason for that other than to put down religion.  It was not needed.

I'm Pagan, and if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I return the sentiment.  They don't have a crystal ball to tell what my religious beliefs are, and it's not worth getting all worked up over.  The person is simply trying to be friendly.  Personally, I'd like to encourage others being friendly and courteous.  I don't see it nearly enough anymore.  Sometimes this PC world of ours goes to unnecessary extremes, and it drives me nuts.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #33 on: November 27, 2012, 04:29:38 PM »
I look on it as this.. they wish me well.. I return the favor. As a .. very.. lapsed Episcopalian I don't see myself as particularly anything. I simply wish more folks would look beyond an excuse to get hurt sometimes. I agree that 'some phrases' should be toned down or eliminated, but I don't get bent out of shape when someone calls me 'cracker'. (And for THREE reasons I get that)

Offline ulthakptah

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #34 on: November 27, 2012, 04:47:33 PM »
I doubt it, she stands for believing in fair trials. Even atheists will be hard-pressed to be against that. ;)

It also helps that you don't have to bow down for her, kiss her feet, or say prayers to her. It's a symbol of the law, just like a cross is a symbol of christianity and a colander is a symbol of the great flying spagetti monster.
Pretty sure they weren't making people bow down and pray to the ten commandments. I think they just had them in there as a symbol for law. Seeing as they are a very early example of written law that most likely lead to the laws in place today.
Not to mention, the pro-birth crowd considers abortion to be murder, so it falls under number 6.
PETA says killing animals is murder, and that doesn't have diddly to do with the ten commandments.
Am I really the only here that sees this as a victory for the good guys? Because if so, that would be kind of sad.
Well I see it as a victory for those specific atheists, but I wouldn't say the good guys. It is a nativity scene not a giant sign with 'Atheists will burn forever in a fiery hell.' written on it. If the atheists who won the lot just put in some festive decorations that would have been just fine, but no they wanted to be dicks. They put up signs that I can only imagine attacks religion with hate and malice. Which they were in their legal right to do, but it still made them dicks. The Westboro Baptist Church are legally allowed to picket around with hateful signs, but they are still dicks too. And if they manage to cause so much trouble that the city/state/government has to ban protesting, I wouldn't consider that a win for the good guys either. In the end those atheists got to fill all the 21 lots with exactly what they believed in.

Oh, and the vandalizing of the signs would be in poor taste if it was the church who in fact did it. However there is always the chance someone just vandalized the sign because they like to vandalize signs. Like blacking out letters to make it say something silly, example "I have a Chardonnay"

Offline LunarSageTopic starter

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #35 on: November 27, 2012, 04:53:30 PM »
My opinion, but I strongly doubt that the vandals were anything but Christians, considering the circumstances.  The nativity scenes that were there were untouched.  Just like the local abortion clinic in the area I used to live in (which was right down the street from a Catholic church) was burned to the ground... I refuse to believe the arsonists were anything but insane Christians who thought they were helping their 'cause'. 

I'm Christian with Agnostic leanings, myself.  Some of the things that some people who call themselves Christians do sickens me.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #36 on: November 27, 2012, 04:57:10 PM »
Starting all this shit over a nativity scene is the dumbest thing I've ever...  Seriously, I see no point in getting offended.  Yes, it was on public land, and yes, I agree that other people should be able to share space.  However, the Atheists putting stuff up there about there being no god, I see that as them being dicks.  There was no reason for that other than to put down religion.  It was not needed.

I'm Pagan, and if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I return the sentiment.  They don't have a crystal ball to tell what my religious beliefs are, and it's not worth getting all worked up over.  The person is simply trying to be friendly.  Personally, I'd like to encourage others being friendly and courteous.  I don't see it nearly enough anymore.  Sometimes this PC world of ours goes to unnecessary extremes, and it drives me nuts.


I don't see the point in intentionally pressing, however. At best it just comes off as rude. There are plenty of freethinker/humanist messages that don't involve tearing others down.

Offline Stattick

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #37 on: November 27, 2012, 05:21:34 PM »
Well I see it as a victory for those specific atheists, but I wouldn't say the good guys. It is a nativity scene not a giant sign with 'Atheists will burn forever in a fiery hell.' written on it. If the atheists who won the lot just put in some festive decorations that would have been just fine, but no they wanted to be dicks. They put up signs that I can only imagine attacks religion with hate and malice. Which they were in their legal right to do, but it still made them dicks. The Westboro Baptist Church are legally allowed to picket around with hateful signs, but they are still dicks too. And if they manage to cause so much trouble that the city/state/government has to ban protesting, I wouldn't consider that a win for the good guys either. In the end those atheists got to fill all the 21 lots with exactly what they believed in.

Yeah, it's kind of a dick move. It's also kind of a dick move to put your religion all over the park or in the court house, where people not of your religion are going to have to have it right in their face. Personally, I don't ANYONE's religion should be in public places. It shouldn't be on the money, in the pledge, in the courtroom, in the park, and whatnot. What churches want to put up on their private property, or what people want to put up in their yard is fine, but there shouldn't be GIANT STEEL CROSSES in parks and whatnot. (Yeah, one of the towns I lived in for a long time had a giant steel cross in it... and one of the local churches would do Easter services there.)

Offline ulthakptah

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #38 on: November 27, 2012, 05:30:01 PM »
Yeah, it's kind of a dick move. It's also kind of a dick move to put your religion all over the park or in the court house, where people not of your religion are going to have to have it right in their face. Personally, I don't ANYONE's religion should be in public places. It shouldn't be on the money, in the pledge, in the courtroom, in the park, and whatnot. What churches want to put up on their private property, or what people want to put up in their yard is fine, but there shouldn't be GIANT STEEL CROSSES in parks and whatnot. (Yeah, one of the towns I lived in for a long time had a giant steel cross in it... and one of the local churches would do Easter services there.)
Wouldn't banning religion in public places be the government favoring atheism though?

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #39 on: November 27, 2012, 05:35:28 PM »
Wouldn't banning religion in public places be the government favoring atheism though?

Which is why they didn't BAN anything..

They simply went.. 'We can't satisfy anyone with our prior solutions so we're stopping the practice all together'.

Simple and to the point.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #40 on: November 27, 2012, 05:39:46 PM »
Wouldn't banning religion in public places be the government favoring atheism though?

Not so much that as interfering with religious (protected) speech. The government should not -sponsor- religious speech. There is a clear difference.

Offline ulthakptah

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #41 on: November 27, 2012, 06:21:08 PM »
It's not that simple. The lack of theological symbols in a public places is a representation of atheism. So by removing the ten commandments, bible verses, nativity scenes, and whatever from public places is still the government favoring one religion over another.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #42 on: November 27, 2012, 06:22:36 PM »
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Offline Stattick

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #43 on: November 27, 2012, 06:42:02 PM »
Atheism ain't a religion.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #44 on: November 27, 2012, 07:13:45 PM »
Atheism ain't a religion.

Maybe.. but it is a belief.. just like religion..and I think we've demonstrated that Atheists can be just as rude, outspoken and zealous as any worshiper of a given faith.

Offline vtboy

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #45 on: November 27, 2012, 09:25:02 PM »
It's not that simple. The lack of theological symbols in a public places is a representation of atheism. So by removing the ten commandments, bible verses, nativity scenes, and whatever from public places is still the government favoring one religion over another.

Absolutely false. How is the absence of religious symbols from public places a representation of atheism? That one does not endorse one thing is not an endorsement of its competitor. 

The reason there are no religious symbols in public places is not that our government has chosen atheism over faith, but that religion is simply not its province. Our government is supposed to be secular. Where religion is concerned, its only role is to protect the rights of all to believe as they choose; it is not to festoon civic property with the trappings of religion (or of atheism, if there are such things).

You're free to erect a crucifix on your roof, perform morality plays on your front lawn, and thump a bible from dawn to dusk. Government is not. What is so hard to understand about this?
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 09:27:30 PM by vtboy »

Offline Oreo

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #46 on: November 27, 2012, 09:52:21 PM »
I have no real opinion either way, but why are only certain aspects of religion being taken off public property? Doesn't the White House erect a tree every year? Don't cities festoon the streets with lights and flying reindeer at the cost of the citizens? Where is the difference? Feel free to smack me if my logic is off.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #47 on: November 27, 2012, 10:11:06 PM »
The tree, the lights, and the flying reindeer are multicultural.  The Nativity scene in particular is exclusive to Christianity.

Offline ulthakptah

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #48 on: November 27, 2012, 10:27:13 PM »
Absolutely false. How is the absence of religious symbols from public places a representation of atheism? That one does not endorse one thing is not an endorsement of its competitor. 

The reason there are no religious symbols in public places is not that our government has chosen atheism over faith, but that religion is simply not its province. Our government is supposed to be secular. Where religion is concerned, its only role is to protect the rights of all to believe as they choose; it is not to festoon civic property with the trappings of religion (or of atheism, if there are such things).

You're free to erect a crucifix on your roof, perform morality plays on your front lawn, and thump a bible from dawn to dusk. Government is not. What is so hard to understand about this?
Absolutely false? I wonder if I should even continue trying to make a point after that...

Lack was probably a bad use of word on my part. If a public building is made and there are no religious symbols then fine. However it's when the government is forced to ban and remove any object, decorations, and so forth that have religious tones to it is there a problem. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" Not "religious symbols being used in decorations is unconstitutional and a violation of church and state". Really the whole point of separation church and state is to promote religious tolerance among people. Personally I think it isn't very tolerant if a religion's symbols are banned from public places.

More importantly symbols only have power if you let them have power. The only thing I think of when I see a star of David is two equilateral triangles intersecting each other, and in no way does that make me not want to eat bacon.

Offline vtboy

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #49 on: November 28, 2012, 05:46:46 AM »
Lack was probably a bad use of word on my part. If a public building is made and there are no religious symbols then fine. However it's when the government is forced to ban and remove any object, decorations, and so forth that have religious tones to it is there a problem.

Government is only forced to remove religious symbols from public property when it has made the error of putting them there in the first place. Occasionally, these things may go without redress for some period of time, perhaps due to apathy or to supportive sentiment in the local community. That those who force the issue may often be atheists does not make removal of the religious symbols an endorsement of atheism or an assault on religion. To the extent some people may take away some unintended message from the removal of religious matter, the problem is the creation of those who put the stuff up in the first place, not of those who insist on strict secularism in our governmental institutions.

Quote
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" Not "religious symbols being used in decorations is unconstitutional and a violation of church and state". Really the whole point of separation church and state is to promote religious tolerance among people. Personally I think it isn't very tolerant if a religion's symbols are banned from public places.

The Constitution is a short document, containing some very imprecise language. Strict textualism has been rejected by most jurists and constitutional scholars as not only virtually impossible in practice, but also as contrary to the intentions of the framers that future generations interpret the document in a manner consistent with the needs and understandings of their own times. The establishment and free exercise clauses do not say anything about school prayer, or providing financial support to churches, yet it is well settled constitutional law that these are within their prohibition.

I can't imagine where you got the idea that the purpose of the establishment and free exercise clauses is to promote religious tolerance. Their purpose was to keep the levers of power out of the hands of all religious groups, so they could not bludgeon each other to death with them. Interestingly, evangelists, who were then frequently scorned by established churches, were among the strongest advocates of the clauses.

Quote
More importantly symbols only have power if you let them have power. The only thing I think of when I see a star of David is two equilateral triangles intersecting each other, and in no way does that make me not want to eat bacon.

Well, I suppose if we were all as perfect as you, we wouldn't need the First Amendment at all. Being one of the less perfect, I would prefer that my six year old son not pass under a crucifix or a star of David or an Islamic crescent as he enters the doors of his grammar school. 
« Last Edit: November 28, 2012, 05:47:50 AM by vtboy »