Each Christmas season, for nearly 60 years, visitors of the Palisades Park in Santa Monica, California, were able to enjoy diverse displays—privately hosted—featuring different aspects of the Nativity scene. This annual tradition was bombarded in recent years with challenges from adamant atheists.
One of the atheists was quoted as saying, “the atheist groups had no real desire to set up displays, but wanted to counter the Nativity scenes in size and message.” In response to the increased competition for spaces, and the potential for greater controversy, the City Council of Santa Monica opted to do away with the annual tradition instead of welcoming free speech.
The lawsuit, filed by Los Angeles area Becker Law Firm with PJI attorney Michael Peffer as co-counsel, aims to reinstate the long-held tradition, and restore the free-speech that has been banned.
“Stopping this tradition is one of the worst things the City could have done. They have, in effect, given in to the atheists' demands,” said Brad Dacus, president of PJI. “Government officials throwing out traditional free speech opportunities due to fear of controversy is unwise, and unconstitutional, behavior,” Dacus noted.
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