California Christians find loophole that allows nativity scene despite ban on unattended religious displays

It's the time of the year when Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It's also the time when lawyers from groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation go on the prowl, looking to squash anything that might be construed as a public display of Christianity.

In Santa Monica, Calif., for example, a 60-year-old nativity tradition ended after secularists won their battle to ban unattended religious displays in all public parks. But Christians in the area have found a loophole in the order that permits them to continue the tradition in a non-traditional way.

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Washington, D.C. based Christian Defense Coalition, said that since the ban only applies to “unattended” nativity displays in Palisades Park, the group would stage a live nativity scene from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

According to Christian News Wire, Christians “as well as people of good will from all across Southern California are being encouraged to bring their own personal Nativity Scenes that they would display in their homes during the Christmas Season.”

The event is entitled, “The Birth of Christ. The Birth of Freedom. The Santa Monica Nativity,” and is part of the “Nativity Project,” launched almost seven years ago by the Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action.

“We are so thankful that a Nativity Display will be seen in Palisades Park for a 60th consecutive year. It is critical that the faith community did not allow the City of Santa Monica and the federal court to crush the First Amendment and religious freedom by banning a Nativity Display in Palisades Park,” Mahoney said in a press release.

“Sadly,” he added, “we are seeing an erosion of public expressions of faith across America. This is especially true during the Christmas season.”

Mahoney said that “it is important” for Christians to speak “with passion and courage when they see the trampling of free speech rights and religious freedom.”

“Simply stated,” he said, “the faith community will never 'go silently into the night' when these issues are at risk.”

Mahoney also said that by finding a creative way to work around the order, “the powerful message of Christmas and religious freedom will continue to be heard and scene in Palisades Park.”

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