Says shortened version of Nativity scenes ‘doesn’t do story justice’

To the Editor:

For 58 years there have been 14 Nativity booths in the park on Ocean Avenue near Santa Monica Boulevard. This year the Nativity Scenes Committee was only allowed to erect three of its 14 booths. At least two of their spots were given instead to atheists.

The 14 Nativity booths all work together to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Limiting the committee to only three booths is like selecting three random scenes from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” it just doesn’t do the story justice.

The 14 Nativity scenes are a tradition that goes back five decades. Fathers and mothers bring their kids from the Inland Empire, Orange County or simply from around the corner, just to relive the childhood moments when their parents brought them to see the 14 scenes.

I have watched very emotional families rekindle fond memories while at the same time starting new ones with their own children. At Christmastime, shouldn’t family-friendly be Santa Monica’s first priority?

So who got the other 11 booths that were taken from the Nativity Committee? That’s what I would like to know. And why weren’t the 14 Nativity scenes given priority since they have been an institution in the park since 1953?

What I do know from walking in the park is that two spots have been given to atheists. Up for the third year in a row is a sign in a cage that states “Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies” – Thomas Jefferson.

The fact that Jefferson never said that doesn’t seem to matter. Experts at no less than the Jefferson Library at Monticello, Va. say there is absolutely no evidence Jefferson said these words. Do you see the irony? The sign is actually what has been proven to be the myth.

Certainly the city of Santa Monica (on government property no less) shouldn’t be guilty of perpetuating this myth about our president.

There is a distinct lack of civility. It seems like a very classless thing to attempt to tear down someone else’s belief system at the very time they are in the process of celebrating who they are as people.

For a city like Santa Monica that seems to pride itself on tolerance, it would seem that allowing two booths that question other people’s religion during their holy celebration would be not only against their tolerance policies but simply not in the spirit of the season.

Would the City Council tolerate hecklers at the Menorah lighting ceremony? Would they tolerate a booth questioning Mohammed during Ramadan?

Why can’t the 14 Nativity scenes be allowed and if any other religion wants to display something, do that as well? Why not be inclusive rather than spiteful and intolerant?

If you are someone who misses seeing the other 11 booths and feel that your religious freedom to see the 14 historic Nativity scenes has been violated, please contact the City Council or the parks department and make your voices heard. Maybe we can get some answers.

Eric Cooper, Santa Monica

Grateful to Santa Monica firefighters for saving her from car fire

To the Editor:

Lucky for me it was a miracle that I survived a car fire and explosion. Dec. 11 marks the one year anniversary of this harrowing ordeal, as I was trapped in a 1994 Oldsmobile, with the electric doors and windows frozen shut and the windshield shattered.

God bless the Santa Monica Fire Department that came to the rescue. Lucky 11 — Saturday, Dec. 11, on 11th Street at 11:29 p.m.

Our SMFD is BTB — that’s code for “beyond the best.” Engine 1 saved my life from a car fire and explosion, a harrowing disaster. SMFD is so valiant, brave, and our heroes. They are knights in shining armor – bravo. What a miracle to have survived the wildfire engulfing me as I was being “toasted” in the driver’s seat.

I, like Jimmy Stewart’s character in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” feel thrilled to be alive. And in celebrating all of our SMFD lifesavers, I offer a warm toast to them – without the toast flaming with fire.

Joyous holidays to our life spark spirits. I’m eternally grateful.

Spring de Haviland, Santa Monica