Judge won't order Nativity scene for city

Nov. 19, 2012 at 4:20 PM

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 19 (UPI) -- A federal judge indicated Monday she will not force Santa Monica, Calif., to permit a Christmas display in the city's Palisades Park.

A Nativity scene has been erected annually in the park for nearly 60 years before the city banned all displays, the Los Angeles Times reported.

U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins rejected a request for a preliminary injunction from Nativity scene proponents, but ordered all parties back in court Dec. 3 for more hearings.

Last year, requests for park display spots exceeded what the city had allocated, and officials held a lottery to distribute them, the newspaper said. Atheists won 18 of 21 spots, a Jewish group won one and the traditional Christmas Nativity story that used to occupy 14 spots was jammed into two, the Times said.

Then city officials decided a yearly lottery was too costly, and banned all private displays.

Nativity scene proponents filed suit in federal court in October to allow the traditional Christian displays, but in a tentative ruling, Collins rejected a request to erect the Christmas display while the case is pending, the Times reported.

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