Man Protests By Nailing Santa to Cross

Art Conrad has an issue with the commercialism of Christmas, and his protest has gone way beyond just shunning the malls or turning off his television. The Bremerton resident nailed Santa Claus to a 15-foot crucifix in front of his house.

“Santa has been perverted from who he started out to be,” Conrad said. “Now he’s the person being used by corporations to get us to buy more stuff.”

A photo of the crucified Santa adorns his Christmas cards, with the message “Santa died for your MasterCard.”

The display is also Conrad’s way of poking fun at political correctness. He believes people don’t express their feelings because they’re afraid of what other people might think.

His neighbors found the will to express their feelings this past week. Some were offended but many were just curious.

Jake Tally walked by on Friday and chuckled, but didn’t pretend to understand the message.

“I don’t really know what to think. I know it’s about God but Santa has nothing to do with it,” he told the Kitsap Sun newspaper.

Happy Holidays Beats Out Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? The verdict is in and more Americans this year are opting to wish people a happy holiday.In its fourth annual survey, gift basket company GiftBasketsDeluxe.com analyzed its gift card messages and found a record number of 60 percent of gift baskets were sent using the term holidays as opposed to a more traditional Christmas.

The company said this was a stark reversal of the previous three-year trend when Christmas prevailed.

Only 27 percent of those surveyed used the term holidays instead of Christmas in 2006 compared to 43 percent in 2005 and 58 percent in 2004.

“For something to more than double in one year indicates that a major factor has changed,” said Don Crowther, president of GiftBasketsDeluxe.com, in a statement.

“Perhaps it is because of the election season (note that the previous high was in 2004, a national election year), or perhaps it is due to the increasing sensitivity to other cultures and their holiday celebrations.”

But not every one agrees.

One U.S. store, the jean and boot barn Hewlett & Dunn in Collierville, Tennessee, is offering its customers a 5 percent discount if they say “Merry Christmas.”

Christmas Caroling Banned on Manila Streets

Manila authorities have banned Christmas carol singers from the streets for safety reasons and warned Sunday they would round up any who flouted the new rule.

Bayani Fernando, who chairs the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which overseas traffic and road safety, said the ban would take effect Monday and was due to concerns about road traffic.

“The plan, controversial as it might be, is not done out of whim but rather for the safety of the children and the motorists,” he said.

Singers, including children from surrounding slums, have been converging on major Manila street intersections, knocking on vehicle windows for cash while carolling.

Last year a child was killed when he was run over by a speeding truck.

Fernando said groups of carol singers would still be able to go from house to house in suburban areas where they would not affect road traffic.

“What we are against are those who dart across thoroughfares knocking on vehicle windows to beg for alms since this is a surefire way to get maimed or killed,” he said on radio in response to criticism.

He urged people “not to give alms” to street children and singers, saying doing so encourage them to stay on the streets where they were in danger. “Let us just give to charitable institutions which can help more.”

Fernando said those rounded up would be handed over to the social welfare department.

The Philippines is Asia’s bastion of Roman Catholicism, with more than 80 percent of its 87 million belonging to that faith.

It also celebrates arguably the world’s longest Christmas season, starting officially on December 16 with dawn masses.

The Wisconsin Christmas Tree War

The 35-foot tall balsam fir standing proudly in the rotunda of the Wisconsin Capitol is a familiar annual December display, but it’d be a mistake to call it a “Christmas tree,” much to the dismay of one Badger State lawmaker now leading a legislative fight to change the name of the evergreen.

The General Assembly is expected to vote Tuesday on the bill proposed by Rep. Marlin Schneider, a Democrat, who wants the tree to be known officially as the State of Wisconsin Christmas Tree.

The tree “celebrates one holiday and that holiday is Christmas,” Schneider told FOX News. “It was called a Christmas tree from 1916 until 1985 when political correctness took over, and then we decided it would become a holiday tree. But what it really is, is a Christmas tree, and there’s nothing really wrong with that,” Schneider said.

Not everyone shares the Christmas spirit, however.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, a spokesperson for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a separation of church and state watchdog group, said she considers the proposed name change offensive.

Officially calling the tree a Christmas tree, she said, would amount to a state endorsement of Christianity.

“The word Christmas does have religious significance and to deny it is sort of preposterous,” Gaylor said.

The Capitol rotunda currently houses other displays and decorations with seasonal themes, including a menorah. But Gaylor said the other exhibits are sponsored independently by private organizations — unlike the evergreen, which is displayed and decorated by the state.

“It’s OK to have decorations that celebrate the winter season. But when you call something that’s Christmas, that’s religious,” Gaylor said.

Schneider said the majority of Wisconsin’s 5 million residents celebrate Christmas, and most of the Wisconsinites who have contacted him about the tree support his cause.

One of those supporters, Jordan Loeb, is a Jewish attorney from Madison.

“I think it’s a relatively innocuous symbol,” Loeb said. “I have much stronger feelings trying to be convinced it’s something other than a Christmas tree. I don’t think changing the name to a holiday tree somehow makes it an inclusive symbol.”

Further confusing matters, each year the tree is adorned with an official state ornament. For this holiday season, the paperwork inside the ornament reads “the inspiration for the 2007 holiday ornament is the beautiful Christmas tree, which graces the Capitol Rotunda each December.”

Wisconsin isn’t the only place where the battle over Christmas is being fought. On Capitol Hill, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is sponsoring a resolution to recognize the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith. The resolution, which has 52 co-sponsors, follows two similar bills honoring both the Hindu and the Islamic religions and their respective holidays, King said.

“Earlier this year , the House of Representatives passed bills proclaiming Hinduism and Islam great religions of the world at the time of their major celebrations. My resolution offers the same honor to the Christian faith,” King said.

Both the U.S. House and Wisconsin Assembly could move on their respective measures as early as Tuesday. But the timing may not be soon enough for the tree to change its identity this year. That measure still must pass the Wisconsin Senate, and Schneider said it’s unlikely the Senate will have time this month to vote on the measure.

Global Warming Crowd Out to Kill Christmas Dinner

A stunning new assault on Christmas reported by the BBC today:

A carbon footprint equivalent to 6,000 car journeys around the world will be produced by the UK tucking into Christmas dinner, researchers say.

It is claimed the UK’s love of the traditional turkey dinner will generate 51,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Academics calculated the production, processing and transportation costs of the festive ingredients.

The Manchester researchers estimate a dinner for eight generates 20kg (44lbs) of carbon dioxide emissions.

They arrived at the total emissions figure by assuming one third of the UK population eats a typical Christmas meal.

Project leader professor Adisa Azapagic, from the University of Manchester, said: “Food production and processing are responsible for three quarters of the total carbon footprint, with the largest proportion – 60% – being related to the life cycle of the turkey.

“All stages in the supply chain have been considered, including raising the turkey, growing the vegetables, food storage, consumer shopping, cooking the meal at home and waste management.

“This includes the emissions of carbon dioxide due to energy consumption along the turkey supply chain and the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide generated due to the agricultural activities to raise the turkey.”

The cranberry sauce alone, normally imported from North America, contributes half the carbon footprint related to transport.

Survey Shows Few Know the Christmas Story

Only 12% of adults in have a detailed knowledge of the Christmas story, according to new research published last week by Theos, the public theology think-tank.

In the ComRes poll more than 1,000 adults were asked questions about the Christmas story as narrated in the Bible. The findings reveal that when it comes to the classic elements of the story, such as the appearance of an angel to Mary or where Jesus was born, the vast majority of people, 73% in each case, know the story.

However, that number falls considerably when people are asked slightly more difficult questions. For example, 48% of people know that John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin but only 22% that Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s massacre of the innocents.

The knowledge of the Christmas story varies with age. The youngest people questioned (aged 18-24) know least, with only 7% knowing the correct answers to all the questions asked.

Middle aged people (aged 55-64) know most – 18% answering all questions correctly.

In terms of the geographical spread, the Midlands comes out as the most biblically literate part of Britain, followed by Wales and the South West, the South East and Northern England respectively.

Scotland is at the bottom of the table with the lowest average number of correct answers given.

The knowledge of the Christmas story fluctuates with belief. Unsurprisingly, Christian churchgoers know the story best with 36% answering all questions correctly, compared with only 5% of atheists.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Paul Woolley, Director of Theos, said: “These findings provide us with a good snapshot of our national relationship with Christianity.

“They show that the Christmas story, in its classic formulation is still very much in our cultural blood stream, as indeed is the Christian story as a whole.

“However, when you probe in any depth, you discover that our knowledge and understanding is rather more shaky.

“The fact that younger people are the least knowledgeable about the Christmas story may reflect a decline in the telling of Bible stories in schools and the popularity of Nativity plays.

“No-one seriously thinks that being a Christian or a member of the established Church is the same thing as being British today. But, at the same time, if we are serious about social cohesion we can’t afford to ignore the stories that have bound us together as a culture for a thousand years.

“Any attempts to down-play the Christmas story in order to help social cohesion are likely to be counterproductive.”

British Religious Leaders Urge Rationality About Christmas

LONDON (Reuters) – Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims joined Britain’s equality watchdog on Monday in urging Britons to enjoy Christmas without worrying about offending non-Christians.

“It’s time to stop being daft about Christmas. It’s fine to celebrate and it’s fine for Christ to be star of the show,” said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

“Let’s stop being silly about a Christian Christmas,” he said, referring to a tendency to play down the traditional celebrations of the birth of Christ for fear of offending minorities in multicultural Britain.

Suicide bombings by British Islamists in July 2005 which killed 52 people in London have prompted much soul-searching about religion and integration in Britain, a debate that has been echoed across Europe.

The threat of radical Islam, highlighted by the London attacks, prompted reflection about Britain’s attitude to ethnic minorities and debate about whether closer integration was more important than promoting multiculturalism.

Phillips, reflecting on media reports of schools scrapping nativity plays and local councils celebrating “Winterval” instead of Christmas, feared there might an underlying agenda — using “this great holiday to fuel community tension.”

So he joined forces with leaders of minority faiths to put out a blunt message to the politically correct — Leave Christmas alone.

“Hindus celebrate Christmas too. It’s a great holiday for everyone living in Britain,” said Anil Bhanot, general secretary of the UK Hindu Council.

Sikh spokesman Indarjit Singh said: “Every year I am asked ‘Do I object to the celebration of Christmas?’ It’s an absurd question. As ever, my family and I will send out our Christmas cards to our Christian friends and others.”