christmas tree*Christmas time can be more than a battle for parking spaces at the local malls.

It can also be a battle over how much space the icons of Christmas should be allocated in buildings, parks and streets, says the Los Angeles Times.

Where should a Nativity scene be allowed (outside of a Christian church)?  You won’t find one in most courthouses.  But is a public park an acceptable setting?  The city of Santa Monica knows this debate well.  Atheist groups asked for — and received — space in the city’s Palisades Park overlooking the ocean.  A Jewish group also was allocated space for a menorah.  But the organizers of the park’s traditional — and extensive — Nativity scene are angry that they ended up with a fraction of the space they are allocated most years.  The decision on space was done by a random lottery overseen by the Santa Monica city attorney.  Multiple atheist groups applied for spaces and ended up being earliest in the drawing.

Although civic buildings tend to veto religious expressions of the holidays, Los Angeles City Hall has put on display a Christmas tree and a menorah. Is that equal time for religious expression?

Read the full story here.