'Tis the Season...

From today's NY TImes, a story out of Santa Monica, California, where (sort of) local atheists have flooded the city with applications to obtain space to install holiday displays. The application process was established to administer the public space that has in the past been used to construct an elaborate series of 14 Christmas-related scenes that alocal group hasdisplayed for nearly six decades without serious objection. In order to stay within constitutional lines, the city opened the public spaces up for all groups to apply to use them. Each person could apply for up to 14 spots. Atheists got wind of the application process, and seven of them (apparently none of whom were residents of Santa Monica) applied for 14 spots. With more applications than spaces, the city held a lottery. Because the atheists had submitted so many applications, they won the lion's share of spaces. In some of the spaces, they have installed rudimentary displays with secular quotes. They have left other spaces unused. The creche supporters were only to obtain a handful of spaces and so have built an abbreviated display this year.The NY Times writer wryly finishes the article with a quote featured in one of the atheist's displays that I wish the atheists themselves would have taken more to heart this Christmas season:

Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.

Eduardo M. Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. The views expressed in the piece are his own, and should not be attributed to Cornell University or Cornell Law School.

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