Rabbi Michael Gotlieb, in his Dec. 11 Times Op-Ed article, “Threatened by faith in Santa Monica,” decries efforts to remove Christian Nativity displays from a publicly owned oceanfront park in Santa Monica as being driven by an “unprecedented, angry form of atheism.” Gotlieb’s anger is misplaced and says more about the his religious prejudices than of the situation.
Santa Monica, a city of only 8.4 square miles, is home to scores of Christian churches with their own land and buildings. One has to ask why, with so many spaces seemingly available, Gotlieb feels that the city should make additional space available to accommodate the promotion of that faith.
Gotlieb makes the obvious point that the city itself bears the name of a religious saint — with a statue of its namesake only a short distance away from the park where the dioramas were displayed — as additional justification for the taxpayer-subsidized promotion. But in a religiously diverse and pluralistic society, the amount of Christian saturation in the city would actually seem an argument for it to take extraordinary measures to ensure that other faiths and worldviews are not drowned out.
Which is arguably what the city did in implementing its lottery system. And it worked exactly as intended: not to guarantee atheists visibility but to give all interested parties an equal chance to put up their displays in the public park. Gotlieb may have been offended by the messages of the atheists who won slots, but based on public comments made during City Council discussions, plenty were equally offended by the dioramas populated with tacky mannequins that blocked one of the city’s most majestic views of the ocean. In religion, one man’s tradition is another’s abomination.
Written By: By Stuart Bechmancontinue to source article at latimes.com