Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Putting a Twist on a Problem

OK. So I am trying to decide what I think about yesterday's decision about the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes.

Here is where I am as I post this-1) I truly believe both on a logical level and in my heart that people should have freedom of AND from religion.2) In order to insure this freedom we need to observe the separation of public (government) space and private space.3) It just seems like some old mannequins are silly and out dated but if people love them, why worry about it?4) To me the internal conflict comes down to the fact that people who have been brought up in the Christian faith are not easily offended by the religious images used at Christmas (even those of us who no longer observe) but there are plenty of people who are not Christian that may not find it all banal.
I decided I would complete an exercise and switch out key words in the LA Times article for comparable words from another religion. Here is what I came up with. Thoughts?
Edited Text From LA Times-In a sunny park overlooking the beach in Santa Monica, where a cool breeze blows in from the Pacific, the so-called war over Eid al-Adha has found it’s latest battlefield.Over almost six decades, a collection of Santa Monica's Muslim Mosques have re-created a giant Quran, the Islamic word Allah, a ram, and the pillars of The Sacred Mosque.But this year, there's no room in the park.Atheist groups objected to Muslim’s use of the public Palisades Park to espouse a religious message and applied to the city of Santa Monica for their own spaces.To keep it fair and legal, officials in the famously liberal city turned to a lottery to dole out spots in the prime location along Ocean Avenue.The atheists turned out to be the lucky ones: Of the 21 plots in the park open for displays, they won 18. A Jewish group that sets up a menorah won another.The Trials and Triumphs of the Prophet Abraham that once took 14 displays to tell — from the moment he was instructed by Allah in a dream to raise the foundations of Kaaba, a black stone, the most sacred Muslim shrine in Mecca (Saudi Arabia), which the Muslims face during their prayers (salat) all the way through the moment when Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael, Allah spared the boy's life and replaced him with a lamb — had to be abridged to three and crammed into two plots.Now, people walking down the sidewalk pass scenes of Abraham’s dream, The Sacred Mosque and the word "Eid Greetings." Then, a few yards away, a poster from American Atheists: "37 Million Americans Know MYTHS When They See Them. What do you see?"The debate in Santa Monica is one of several current disputes in the United States — and one of hundreds of such "seasonal violations" that atheist organizations have responded to in recent years. In Texas and Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, atheists are waging similar battles against Eid al-Adha scenes in government-owned places.As with the Trials and Triumphs of the Prophet Abraham in Santa Monica, the groups are upending decades-old traditions, leaving residents incensed over losing a staple of the season in their community."A small group of out-of-town atheists is trying to hijack Santa Monica's nearly 60-year-long Eid al-Adha tradition," said Hunter Jameson, chairman of the Santa Monica The Trials and Triumphs of the Prophet Abraham Scenes Committee, the group that works with more than a dozen mosques and civic groups to organize the display.Jameson said he intends to keep the The Trials and Triumphs of the Prophet Abraham tradition many have enjoyed since 1953 from being displaced. Palisades Park, he said, is the "historic home where it really belongs.""Their goal is getting rid of us, and squelching our 1st Amendment rights," said Jameson, 65, who no longer lives in Santa Monica but still worships at Lighthouse Mosque of Santa Monica.Patrick Elliott, a lawyer for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said tradition is no excuse for violating the boundaries between mosque and state. "Just because they're long-standing doesn't mean they're right," he said.Indeed, Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said December is a busy time for the organization's attorneys, who challenge the use of public spaces for religious messages."It's littering — literally, littering — these spaces," Gaylor said of such displays, which she said are a "territorial attempt by Muslims to impose their beliefs in this season.""That creates an atmosphere of intimidation," said Gaylor, who noted that the organization's banner was destroyed by vandals after being hung in Palisades Park. "Muslims are the insiders, and everyone else is an outsider."In Santa Monica, atheist Damon Vix called national organizations seeking help because he felt marginalized by the display, and tradition alone didn't merit saving it. Vix, a 43-year-old prop maker from Burbank, said the display "defines Santa Monica as a Muslim city, and I feel very excluded by that."Last year, he put up a display of his own: signs with quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln — quotes that his opponents say are of dubious veracity. (It's worth noting that both sides suspect the Founding Fathers would support them.)Others have complained that the atheists should at the very least come up with something more than a sign attached to a chain-link cage, and use more of the space they have been allotted. "I wish they had been more creative," one city councilman said.The Rev. Keith Magee, pastor of Trinity Baptist Mosque, said the atheists have deprived a coalition of Muslim faiths and the community (doctors, real estate agents and the Santa Monica Police Assn. are among the sponsors) of a tradition that allowed so many to come together to celebrate a belief so important to them."Why did they have to come to Santa Monica to do this?" said Magee, who added that he is grateful for what little space they have to share the story of Abraham’s story.Gaylor, on the other hand, offered greetings for what she called the real reason for the season: Merry Winter Solstice.

if you want to read the original article please go tohttp://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/15/local/la-me-1215-nativity-atheist-20111215