An eight-foot nativity display that has graced a park in the city of Santa Monica, Calif., since 1953 has been eliminated this year by city officials, who say the display causes damaging foot traffic to the surrounding grass and costs the city too much to maintain. The church coalition that puts on the display isn't buying it, though; they think the city has been inundated with paperwork by a lawsuit from atheist groups. William J. Becker, the attorney representing the group of churches, commented that the action by the city "amounts to an erosion of First Amendment liberty for religious speech in this country."
Courts are siding with the city, saying the churches can pursue other options such as Christmas caroling in the park or erecting their displays on private property. According to The Los Angeles Times, Becker said his clients may consider an appeal at a future date when the city government pendulum "would swing back and we'd be back in a sane society where people are tolerant and respect each other for their religious views."
Mike Breen: "The transformation in your heart will bring the transformation in the place where you live."
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