(ABC NEWS) -- Christians seeking the right to display a nativity scene in the same Santa Monica, Calif., public park where they’ve held it for 60 years hope that a federal judge will come down on their side of a lawsuit.
The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee filed suit after the beachfront city pulled the plug on holiday displays, which once gave the city the moniker “The City of the Christmas Story,” according to court documents. The change came after an outspoken atheist set up his own display next to the nativity scene.
Atheist Damon Vix hung a sign three years ago reading “Religions are all alike – founded on fables and mythologies,” next to the Christmas nativity at a booth in Palisades Park, according to the suit. The other side read, “Happy Solstice.”
He then wrangled fellow atheists into applying for the booth spaces at Palisades Park, leaving only two spaces for the traditional Christian nativity scenes during December 2011, according to the document.
After the holidays passed, the Santa Monica city council decided to abandon the tradition altogether, a decision the Nativity Scenes Committee hopes to reverse with the federal court decision expected today.
The group is made up of 13 area churches and the police officers’ union, according to the suit.