Rhode Island Governor Insists on Calling It a Holiday Tree

Taking a cue from Wisconsin, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee is calling Rhode Island’s state tree a “holiday tree”, despite a resolution passed by the State Legislature earlier in the year declaring that the tree customarily erected this time of year be referred to “as a ‘Christmas tree’ and not as a ‘holiday tree’ or other non-traditional terms.”

“I would encourage all those engaged in this discussion – whatever their opinion on the matter – to use their energy and enthusiasm to make a positive difference in the lives of their fellow Rhode Islanders,” Chafee said, offering an initiative to feed the needy as a good place to start.

But critics of Chafee’s seasonal semantics said the independent governor is taking political correctness too far — and defying the will of the Legislature.

The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Doreen Costa, said she plans to erect and decorate a tree at her Statehouse office on Dec. 6, the same day Chafee plans to host a tree lighting event. Costa said she’ll be taking up a collection of canned goods.

“Anybody that wants to go see a holiday tree can do so, but I will be decorating a Christmas tree,” Costa, R-North Kingstown, told The Associated Press. “It may only be a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree but at least it will be a Christmas tree.”

Chafee isn’t the first Rhode Island governor to refer to the annual Statehouse tree as a ‘holiday’ tree. His predecessor, Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri, used both ‘holiday tree’ and ‘Christmas tree’ in his correspondence. Other past governors have made no specific reference to Christmas at all with invitations to “holiday celebrations” featuring a “tree lighting.”

The 17-foot Colorado blue spruce at the center of the holiday hullabaloo was donated to the state by Big John Leyden’s Christmas Tree Farm in West Greenwich, R.I. Tree farmer John Leyden said he’s disappointed with Chafee’s yuletide word choice.

“It’s not a holiday tree or even an ‘X-mas’ tree,” he said. “We’re a Christmas tree farm, that’s what the name is.”

Chafee insists he’s just respecting the state’s history as a place respectful of all religions.

The colony’s hands-off policy toward religion quickly attracted sects that had been persecuted elsewhere. Rhode Island boasts both the nation’s first Baptist church and the oldest surviving Jewish synagogue.

Leesburg, Virginia Suffers More Christmas Battles

If it’s holiday time in Loudoun County, it’s time for more controversy at the county courthouse.

What has become an annual feud over who is allowed to post holiday displays on courthouse grounds and where they are allowed to post them is taking the form this year of a battle over an old tree and a long-running nativity scene.

At a meeting last week, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted 6-3 to discontinue use of one of the spots at the courthouse where a Christmas display by the local Welsh family had been annually sitting over two decades. The courthouse grounds committee told the Board of Supervisors it was concerned that the roots of an old sycamore tree would be disturbed by foot traffic and the installation, weight and removal of the display.

The decision effectively cuts the number of spots allowed for holiday displays on courthouse grounds from 10 to nine.

County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, a Republican who represents Sterling, is one of the board members who voted against the measure. He said the board wrote up restrictions that only allow the displays to sit on top of the dirt and that the tree is too far from road or sidewalk to be disturbed.

“This is not an issue of the tree. This is an issue where common sense must rule and common, constitutional rights must prevail,” the supervisor told WMAL.com.

Ten applications were submitted and accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for this year’s holiday displays at the courthouse, but the tenth, which was asking to display a Christmas tree, was rejected when the board cut the number of display spots by one. A public discussion will be held December 5, when residents can weigh in on the issue and discuss if the board’s decision should be changed.

Displays are currently set to go up on December 3.

The Loudoun County Board voted in the fall of 2010 to welcome both religious and non-religious holiday displays on courthouse grounds. Later that year, the board decided to start accepting applications for holiday displays on courthouse grounds in the order in which they were received. A group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation was the first to submit an application and used the spot currently in question to display an atheistic message.

“This is the same location that for three years running, crowds of people have shown up to protest the elimination or the barring, outright barring, of a nativity scene. Why are we revisiting this again?” Delgaudio said.

This year’s accepted applications, in order, include:

– The Welsh family nativity scene

– A sign calling Christian figures “myths” and promoting the Loudoun Atheists submitted by a Leesburg resident

– A banner promoting the separation of church and state by American Atheists and NOVA Atheists, submitted by a Leesburg resident

– A banner calling for “reason in the holiday season” submitted by a Lansdowne resident

– A holiday display possibly including the Tree of Knowledge from a Sterling resident

– A letter from Jesus submitted by a Middleburg resident

– A Santa Claus on a cross to depict the materialistic nature of the holiday, submitted by a Middleburg resident

– Two signs from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, one from a Leesburg resident and the other from a Reston resident

The tenth application, which may or may not be allowed to present a display, is Christmas-themed and submitted by Potomac Falls Anglican Church.

“This seems to be a punch in the nose to Christians at holiday time,” Delgaudio said.

Mayor’s Office Plunges Mobile into War on Christmas Debate

It is pretty rare that a Southern city engages in the politically correct battles of Christmas. But the Mayor’s office of Mobile, Alabama now know all too well what can happen when they use the nasty word “holiday” instead of “Christmas” in a newsletter.

A newsletter meant to spread holiday cheer caused a wave of emails to flood Mobile Mayor Sam Jones’ office.

The lighting of the tree in Bienville Square is a long-standing tradition in Mobile. However, this year the massive tree is at the center of controversy because of what the mayor’s office called it.

The city’s newsletter called it a holiday tree, and that didn’t sit well with some residents. Dozens of people fired off emails to Mayor Sam Jones and the city, upset over the term.

The office received so many emails the city issued another letter saying the previous one had been taken out of context.

“The newsletter said ‘holiday festivities’ … Some people said that meant the word ‘Christ’ was being taken out of ‘Christmas tree.’ That was not the case,” said Barbara Drummond, spokesperson for the City of Mobile.

Drummond said the newsletter was meant to notify residents about the upcoming events this holiday season. She said it was not meant as a display of anyone’s religious views.

“We at the City of Mobile won’t ever use this vehicle for someone’s religious preference,” Drummond said.

Still, FOX10 asked for the record: What is the tree downtown?

“Go look at it and whatever you want to call it, but we refer to it as Christmas and holiday tree in our newsletter,” Drummond said.

FOX10 only found ‘holiday tree,’ but the newsletter did say ‘Christmas’ and ‘holiday parade.’

Drummond said the newsletter was written by the City of Mobile’s Neighborhood and Community Services Department using language from previous years.

American Humanists Say Atheists Are Discriminated Against at Christmas

Last week it was American Atheists launching their anti-Christmas campaign. And this week it is American Humanists’ turn, this time claiming discrimination against atheists runs rampant during the Christmas season and they want it stopped. Their image on billboards reads “Bias Against Atheists is Naughty, Not Nice”.

“Nonbelievers in America continue to be the object of discrimination,” Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said in a press release. “We hope this campaign will spur a conversation about this problem that moves us in a positive direction.”

While Speckhardt claims that atheists are unfairly encountering “hatred” for their urge to advocate for separation of church and state, many religious adherents believe that non-believers take their opposition to religion too far. Additionally, some contend that atheist groups misread the First Amendment to mean that they must purge public forums of all references to faith.

“Many humanists and atheists in America experience hatred in their own communities when simply standing up for the separation of church and state, or fighting for other rights that should be afforded without question,” Speckhardt was quoted in the release.

The newspaper ads being placed by the group capture stories about atheists who have been called names and belittled as a result of their opposition to prayer and religion in the public square. The AHA claims that the group was turned down for billboard placements and newspaper ads in numerous towns.

“From past experience we knew that ad space is not always easy to obtain for groups with a secular message,” Speckhardt explained. “But the refusal to accept an ad with a simple and friendly reminder that prejudice is ‘naughty,’ is disheartening.”

According to the group’s press release, a bus campaign will also be unveiled in Washington, D.C. The messages on it will read, “Don’t Believe in a God? Join the club,” as a group of people in Santa hats give a thumbs up.

This year’s campaign seems tame compared to years past when ads were used specifically to mock belief in God.

Is Black Friday About to Get REALLY Ugly?

A group calling itself Occupy Black Friday and aligning itself with the Occupy protests nationwide is threatening to create disruptions on Black Friday. Their goal is to somehow influence sales in major publicly traded retailers to cause results for the fourth quarter to come in lower, thus hurting investors on Wall Street.

Keep in mind that we are not occupying small businesses or hardworking people — we must make a distinction between the businesses that are in the pockets of Wall Street and the businesses that serve our local communities. We are NOT anti-capitalist. Just anti-crapitalist.

Specific retailers the group is threatening include WalMart, Toys R Us, Amazon.com (how are they going to pull that off?, Office Max, Neiman Marcus and The Home Depot.

A call to action today targeted Black Friday websites such as BFads.net and BlackFriday.info by encouraging their followers to spam comment areas of both sites with spam linking back to Stop Black Friday.com.

So far it doesn’t appear that their efforts online or offline are having any effect.

BC Shoe Store Promotes Drugs for Christmas

A student publication at a college in British Columbia is reporting on an area shoe store with a wild Christmas display depicting a reindeer doing cocaine and a Christmas tree laden with baggies filled with white powder:

A shop named Steve Johns Shoes Limited has displayed a controversial Christmas advertisement in which a reindeer appears to be taking drugs in the form of white powder. This has sparked a dispute in the city about whether the advertisement is promoting drugs. The store is located on Bernard Avenue with storefront windows saying “ho ho ho, let it blow.” In addition to the white powder on the table, there also appears to be a razor blade as well as a rolled up dollar bill.

In the interior, a Christmas tree is decorated with bags of white powder on its branches. Residents in the city have been infuriated and have stated that it is very inappropriate. When Paul Barrett, a pedestrian walking down Bernard Avenue saw the store’s advertisement, he took pictures of the display. “It was kind of appalling,” Barrett said. “It was basically set up with what looks like cocaine hanging from baggies in a Christmas tree,” said Paul. “Other than the Christmas tree, it has got nothing to do with Christmas. I looked for signs to see if maybe it had some kind of message against drugs and I did not see that. It was more for drugs and about how you do these drugs and I was quite appalled, I do not know what it is advertising but it is certainly not advertising shoes, there are kids that are walking by this. It is a very low window. It is saying basically, this is what you need to do cocaine,” Paul continued.

Atheists Go to War — Again

Right on schedule American Atheists announced this week their annual shots in the war on Christmas by posting images of what will soon be on billboards and in the media for the next several weeks. The fact they launch this campaign at Christmas and at no other time of the year is no accident. They intend to inflict as much offense and garner as much attention as possible.

“Every year groups like The Catholic League and American Family Association told Americans about a war on Christmas that simply did not exist. Last year we thought we would give them what they seemed to want and fired the first shot in the war on Christmas. To both groups we say, ‘Happy Holidays!’” said Amerian Atheists Communications Director Blair Scott.

Anticipating the inevitability that their billboard will offend others, Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said, “When you question someone’s long-held beliefs and doctrine they are going to be immediately offended and be on the defensive: it’s a known psychological phenomenon.”

It is likewise a know pschological phenonmenon that recruiting at Christmas during difficult times results not in further recruits for the cause of atheism — whose beliefs are the only ones American Atheists seem to tolerate — but futher cynicism about the political debates surrounding the season of Christmas.

“It’s noise,” said Jeff Westover of My Merry Christmas.com. “It gets them on the news and in their view furthers their cause. In reality, it does a disservice to those like-minded individuals who happen to celebrate Christmas. And they don’t have to do that. We have many, many members of our community who are atheist or agnostic and they happen to celebrate Christmas along side those with other beliefs just fine. They love the season for secular and nostalgic reasons and don’t mind if others see it differently.”

The practical reasons for exploiting the holiday season to advance American Atheists’ agenda is the same that retailers and marketers start their campaigns around Thanksgiving and Christmas: it’s on people’s mind. They are active in their churches and in their communities in the celebration of Christmas.

It seems a bit dishonest to Westover. “I don’t see why the American Atheists have to use the Christmas season as their primary recuiting crutch.” Westover said. “Where are these billboards in January when they are cheaper? Why not promote in the middle of July? Well, that’s pretty simple. The very phony war on Christmas they like to criticize is perpetuated by these antics. It stirs people up and that is their intention. That’s why the so-called war on Christmas will never go away. The bullies in the school yard on both extremes just can’t resist each other. And the vast majority in the middle are growing weary of it.”

Media Matters Jumpstarts the War on Christmas

The War on Christmas will never go away until one side backs away from the dialogue. That isn’t going to happen, thanks, as usual, to the overriding political agendas at play behind the War on Christmas. Today another shot was fired from Media Matters, who calls it a “fake” war on Christmas right in their headlines but who perpetuate the myth because all they want to do is expose the perceived media bias of their opponents.

In a post that does not actually add anything new to the discussion, Media Matter says:

This week, the right-wing media began its annual fake “War on Christmas” campaign, freaking out about a bogus Obama “Christmas tree tax.” Here’s what to expect from right-wing media during the next six weeks.

They follow this with screen captures, links and stories from past events in the War on Christmas, some of them true, some of them not true.

For our part in this we continue to call out Media Matters — and those media outlets that oppose them — in our War on the War on Christmas.

It is our belief that the “War on Christmas” is not really a war at all. Christmas is just a pawn in a much bigger agenda filled with politics. Christmas should have no part in it from any side.

Christmas Tree Tax Will Re-Ignite War on Christmas

Look out, here comes the government to muddy the waters of the War on Christmas.

On November 8, 2011 the Obama administration through the Agriculture Department imposed what is being called a Christmas tree tax. After years of debate within the real Christmas tree industry following years of sales declines against years of sales growth for artificial Christmas trees the government has been lobbied to approve a fifteen-cent per tree tax to fund a program that promotes real Christmas trees. The program is being compared to similar efforts currently in place that promote the general benefits of purchasing beef, milk and cotton.

While innocent enough on the surface the program opens anew a can of worms promoters of real trees likely never wanted or intended: the War on Christmas.

We might expect arguments that the government is now in the business of promoting a religious symbol and thus, through the administration of this program, violating the sanctity of the separation of Church and State.

Even though the word “Christmas” is recognized as a national secular holiday, will the program have to be renamed to something more generic, such as “holiday tree”? There is plenty of precedent for such a move. After all, not even the White House these days calls their Christmas tree a Christmas tree. (Interestingly enough, the National Christmas Tree makes headlines and is a must-have ticket each year as a real “Christmas” tree).

Already there are numerous media stories about the Christmas tree tax that either stake a position on the questions or that raise the concerns about the government’s involvement with anything Christmas-labeled:

Media Matters
FoxNews
Gawker.com
Politico
Science 2.0
Heritage.org
Gather.com

Within the real tree industry there are plenty of concerns on all sides of the debate.

“As demographics and buying habits have changed we have watched the market for real trees shrink drastically, requiring us to spend much more time and money on promotion,” said Don Cameron, past president of the California Christmas Tree Association.

Cameron and his wife, Carolyn, owners of a tree farm in Simi Valley, Calif., were among the 500-plus people to weigh in over the past year as the Agriculture Department considered the proposed Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order.

Akin to similar programs that promote milk, beef and cotton, the new Christmas tree program will impose on U.S. domestic producers and importers an initial fee of 15 cents per tree.

A 12-member board will direct the money to generic ads and other promotions, as well as research. The promotions, according to the Agriculture Department, will present “a favorable image of Christmas trees to the general public,” with the intent of improving the public “perception” of Christmas trees and, hence, their sales.

“We have good reason to believe it will be successful for our industry,” Betty Malone, an Oregon tree farmer and president of Christmas Tree Promotion Now, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “We looked at what other industries have done, and how successful they’ve been.”

After three years, growers and importers will vote on whether to continue the program.

Malone, whose tree farm is about 20 miles northwest of Corvallis, said she has been working on the tree promotion program for about three and a half years. She said the ads and promotions are likely to begin next year, aiming to offset what’s become a steady decline in tree sales.

Fresh-tree sales declined overall from 37 million in 1991 to 31 million in 2007, according to the Agriculture Department. Artificial tree sales, meanwhile, nearly doubled to 17.4 million from 2003 to 2007.

Competitively, the live-tree and artificial-tree sectors have not always stayed in the holiday spirit, with advocates of each warning about the drawbacks of the other.

“A primary concern with a live Christmas tree is fire danger,” the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents the artificial tree industry, states on its website.

The Agriculture Department rules prohibit any ads that are “disparaging to another agricultural commodity,” and Malone said the industry ads will accentuate the positive.

Nationwide, there are about 12,000 commercial Christmas tree farms, with production particularly heavy in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Of the 565 comments submitted to the Agriculture Department, 398 supported the proposal, 147 were opposed and the remainder fell into other categories.

Some sentiment broke along state lines. Grower organizations in North Carolina and 18 other states and regions supported the new industry program, while growers in Texas and Vermont opposed it.

“If the large wholesale growers want it, fine, but they can pay for it without reaching into the small grower’s pockets,” declared Robert Childress of the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association. “I feel that marketing for my products is my responsibility, and I choose to rely on my efforts.”

The proposal provoked other kinds of debate. One opponent called a Christmas tree a religious symbol that should not be recognized by the government. Another said the mandatory fee assessment infringed on individual freedom, and a third said Texas was a “sovereign state” whose growers should be exempt.

SayMerryChristmas.Net Encourages Christians to ‘Walk Right Past That Door’

SayMerryChristmas.Net is fanning the flames of the fabled War on Christmas by promoting a new song via YouTube that encourages Christians to walk of out of stores that don’t greet people with the words “Merry Christmas”. Claiming credit for everything from Santa Claus to Christmas trees, the song warns “If you don’t see Merry Christmas in the window you walk right past that door”. The song takes a heavy hand promoting “Baby Jesus…as the one and only reason that we celebrate the season…”

“It is a shame that some feel compelled to fight back against the political battles involving Christmas by taking such a militant stand,” said Jeff Westover of My Merry Christmas.com, the world’s largest Christmas community online. “The message of Christmas upon the birth of Christ was peace on earth and good will to all men. This is hardly good will and I don’t think it is in the Spirit of Christ or Christmas to promote it like this. It divides people. The truth of the matter is that Christmas isn’t just sacred and it isn’t just secular. It is both. Movements like this one play on the emotions of people who get caught up in the disputes of Christmas in schools or court houses. They’re taking that fight into the marketplace and it is a marketplace reality that many people celebrate Christmas for other than religious reasons or they celebrate around the Christmas season but celebrate some other holiday. Merry Christmas is fine but so too is Happy Holidays. These guys are saying ‘Say Merry Christmas, or else!’. And that’s just wrong.”

The website saymerrychristmas.net does not indicate a sponsoring organization. The domain name is masked to prevent owneship from being revealed. “That’s really a concern,” Westover said. “To me, it looks like someone is just trying to capitalize on the emotions of those frustrated with the political debates of Christmas and they are making merchasdise of them by promoting a song and a slogan through the sales of CDs, bumper stickers, and t-shirts while hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet.”

DefendChristmas.com deplores such activity, whether it comes from the like of the American Family Association, who isn’t afraid to put their name behind their efforts to sell the “Say Merry Christmas” movement, or from an anonymous merchandiser like SayMerryChristmas.net. This is what makes some believe there is an actual war on Christmas. While there are some retailers or entities that do not use the term “Merry Christmas” in their advertising or business campaigns is that a reason to call them out? Does their lack of “Merry Christmas” or use of “Happy Holidays” indeed make them anti-Christmas?

DefendChristmas.com believes it is a big world with diverse views, even or especially when it comes to things like Christmas. If ever there was a topic that deserved tolerance and patience from all sides it is Christmas. The “fight” for Christmas belongs in the public discourse about those areas we share. We share the sentiment that the treatment of Christmas has grown to absurd levels in places like schools and court houses where a Christmas tree has to be called a holiday tree. But at the same time, this “Say Merry Christmas” assault on retailers is equally offensive, arrogant and divisive.

Out-of-Hand Christmas Display Forces Man to Turn to City for Help

A resident of Holbrook, Ma. who said his family is bombarded with Christmas music playing day and night from a neighbor’s house during the holiday season is seeking help from the town.

Robert Blakey told selectmen last week that his Fargo Road neighbor blasts Christmas music over a loudspeaker as part of a holiday display from the week before Thanksgiving through Martin Luther King Day in January from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“For two months, we’re forced to listen to this,” he said. “I’m not a Grinch, (but) I feel it’s a bit excessive.”

Blakey said he approached the neighbor and asked that the music be curtailed, “but was told basically to get lost,” and that the town’s building inspector investigated the situation but was powerless to do anything.

Blakey asked selectmen if there is a noise ordinance that could force the neighbor to stop.

“Other towns, including Quincy, have ordinances,” he said, adding that Quincy requires a permit for playing outdoor music.

Selectmen Chairman Timothy Gordon agreed that the length the music is played is excessive and asked Town Administrator William Phelan if the town could step in to resolve the issue. Phelan said there is a state regulation that sets a reasonable noise decibel level.

“If the noise exceeds a certain decibel level, the person causing the noise would be in violation,” Phelan said.

Phelan, a former Quincy mayor, said the city enacted a noise ordinance that is stricter than the state. He said he would review Quincy’s ordinance to see if it could be applied in Holbrook, which does not have a noise ordinance on the books.

Phelan said that the town could draft a noise ordinance that would have to be approved by a future Town Meeting following a hearing.

Military Freedom From Religion Foundation Spanks the Air Force

Officials at the Air Force Academy have issued an apology to its cadets for an e-mail encouraging them to support Operation Christmas Child.

Last week, Academy cadets received an e-mail encouraging them to support the Christian-affiliated toy drive, which is sponsored by Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. The e-mail, which was sent by cadets, should have been sent through the Chaplain Corps, as it is “responsible for advertising faith-based programs and events,” the Academy stated in a press release.

“This was an oversight by me that has been addressed and forwarded through the proper channels,” Brig. Gen. Richard Clark said. “The cadets had nothing but good intentions, but this was something that should have started with the Chaplains, not the Cadet Wing. That doesn’t mean the cadets can’t volunteer for the Christmas toy drive; they can participate through the Cadet Chaplain Corps.”

By November 2, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) had been contacted by more than 130 cadets and faculty members about the e-mail, the majority of whom were Protestants or Catholics, said MRFF president Michael Weinstein. Weinstein filed a complaint on behalf of those who had contacted him, and the following evening, the Air Force issued an apology.

The controversy shows the cultural shift happening in the U.S., said Jordan Sekulow, executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice. “This is a perfect example of how heartless these groups are when it comes to defending their anti-religion position,” Sekulow told Fox News. “It’s not about the First Amendment. It’s about a real hatred of religious people and people of faith that they would go so far as to stop an assistance program like [Operation Christmas Child].”

Weinstein said the issue was not about the toys, but the evangelical message that is included in the gifts, and promoting that violates the First Amendment. “We are not trying to take shoe boxes of toys and candy away from kids,” he said. “But this is clearly an egregious Constitutional mistake.”

He was also concerned because of OCC’s ties to Franklin Graham, who leads Samaritan’s Purse. “Graham is a fundamentalist – a total enemy of the Constitution – an absolutely incredible Islamophobe,” Weinstein said.

Graham made headlines in 2010 after he was disinvited from a Pentagon prayer service because of comments he had made about Islam, saying it was evil and offensive. He was slated to be the lead speaker at the event, but several groups raised objections to his appearance.

At the time, Graham said there would be increasing levels of secular repression. “Oh, no question. It’s coming,” Graham said in an interview with Newsmax Television. “I think when you preach that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, I think we’re going to see one day that people will say this is hate speech.”

A spokesman for Graham said Graham was traveling overseas and had not issued a comment. Operation Christmas Child has distributed 86 million shoe boxes for children for Christmas since Samaritan’s Purse launched the program in 1993.

Competing Parades Showcase War on Christmas in Tulsa

No wonder the earth is shaking in Oklahoma — there’s a battle going on.

Some Tulsans say they are taking matters into their own hands and holding a Christmas parade this year.

The decision was made after a controversy concerning the name of the annual parade downtown. The word “Christmas” was dropped from the official title in 2009.

Now, Green Country has a choice. Tulsa’s Holiday Parade of Lights will start in the Blue Dome district and wind through downtown’s streets.

But down at Tulsa Hills Shopping Center, the Tulsa “Christmas” Parade will compete with the downtown parade on the same day, at the same time.

Two parades but with two different names that could be the deciding factor on which one to attend.

Last year, Senator Jim Inhofe said he would not participate in Tulsa’s Holiday Parade of Lights if “Christmas” wasn’t a part of the name.

That sparked a controversy. Many people agreed and decided to do something about it this year.

“It’s time for us to say hey, we want a Christmas parade. Not a holiday parade or a festival parade. But a real Christmas parade for Christians and everyone to enjoy,” said Mark Croucher, Tulsa Christmas Parade.

The Tulsa Christmas Parade board says keeping “Christ” in the name is the root of the celebration.

“Why not? It’s Christ and Christ stood up for us. It’s time we stood up for him,” Croucher said.

Coordinator David Arnett says the parade was formed to put Christmas back in the heart of Tulsa.

“What are they celebrating? I’m just curious. As far as we know, we’re celebrating Christmas here,” Arnett said.

A spokesperson for Senator Jim Inhofe says the Senator supports Christmas parades around the state that refuse to bend to political correctness by keeping Christmas in the parade title.

“We don’t want to start a fight with them or dispute them but wish them the best of luck for whatever they are doing,” Arnett said.

The Tulsa Christmas Parade will stage in the Tulsa Hills shopping center. The parade will march one mile down Olympia from 71st to 81st.

It’s on Saturday December 10th at 6 p.m., which is when Tulsa’s Holiday Parade of Lights will also kick off in downtown.

Larry Fox with the holiday parade of lights says he has no comment regarding the other parade.

Walker Calls It a Christmas Tree, Non-Religious Claim Offense

Notorious Wisconsin Governor is calling a decorated pine tree put up in the state capitol a Christmas tree. He may have single-handedly ignited the War on Christmas 2011 in the process.

Walker said Monday that the evergreen decorated with ornaments and adorned with a star in the center of Wisconsin’s Capitol Rotunda is a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree as it’s been called for the past 25 years.

The roughly 30-foot-tall tree was called a Christmas tree from the first display in 1916 until 1985. That’s when politicians bowed to concerns about government endorsing religion and started referring to it as a holiday tree.

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has opposed the term Christmas tree, saying it offends nonreligious people and amounts to a government endorsement of Christianity.

The president of that group, Annie Laurie Gaylor, called Walker’s decision rude and insensitive to non-Christians.

“The reason that it was turned into a holiday tree was to avoid this connotation that the governor chooses one religion over another,” she said. “It’s essentially a discourtesy by the governor to announce that. He intends that to be a slight and a snub to non-Christians, otherwise he would not do it.”

Walker, in a press release, downplayed any potential controversy by simply referring to the decoration as a Christmas tree and not noting any change. His spokesman Cullen Werwie confirmed that the designation and change from past practices was intentional.

“It’s a Christmas tree,” Werwie said. “In all honesty, I don’t know what more to say about it.”

The controversy over the name of the tree has ebbed and flowed over the years. In 2007, the state Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution to change the name to the Christmas tree, but it died in the Senate.

In past years, displays from a variety of religions have been set up in the Capitol rotunda during the holiday season including a menorah and a sign from the Freedom From Religion Foundation which calls religion “superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

The tree will be decorated with ornaments submitted by the state’s school children. On display from late November through early January, the tree is encircled by a model train and is a popular stop for school groups and other tourists.