Santa Monica, CA - There will be no baby Jesus, manger or wise men in a Santa Monica park this Christmas.

Monday, a judge denied a bid by a group of Christian churches to allow Nativity scenes in Palisades Park.

The city shut down the six-decade tradition earlier this year, after a last year's bitter dispute between religious groups and atheists.

The Christian group sued, claiming the ban was violating their freedom of speech.

"This amounts to an erosion of First Amendment liberty for religious speech in this country. It's just one more step in the slippery slope."

"We are obviously very pleaded with the courts decision. It is a decision that we believe fully comports with existing constitutional law."

The attorney representing the Christian churches says he plans to appeal.

Another hearing is scheduled for next month.

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