A Los Angeles federal judge has denied a Christian group's bid for an injunction to force suburban Santa Monica to reopen spaces in a city park to private displays, including Christmas Nativity scenes.
U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins formalized an earlier tentative ruling during a hearing Monday.
An attorney for the Christian group says he will appeal the denial of a preliminary injunction.
Christmastime Nativity scenes had been erected in Palisades Park for decades. Last year, atheists overwhelmed the city's auction process for display sites, winning 18 of 21 slots and triggering a bitter dispute.
While Christian groups put up traditional nativity displays, the atheist groups put up displays calling Jesus and Santa Clause "myths." Some of the displays offended religious groups.
The city decided to ban the displays at the park, which led to tha lawsuit. Lawyers for the church groups say they plan to appeal Monday's decision.