Jesus the Reason for the Season? Country Debates

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With the Christmas season in America now in full-swing, there are also the annual Christmas battles over acknowledging the holiday in public.

Across the country, those in favor of Christmas and those opposed are taking action.

Tulsa, Okla., has become one of the hot spots in the so-called Christmas wars. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told the Tulsa World that he would boycott his hometown Christmas parade after the name was changed from the "Christmas Parade of Lights" to the "Holiday Parade of Lights."

"I did it every year. Rode a horse 30 years," Inhofe said. "Way back when I was mayor of Tulsa and that was a tradition. That was Christmas and when they just overtly offend Christmas, I just don't want to be apart of it."

Reaction to the parade name change so far has been mixed.

"Christmas is the day Christ was born and you take Christmas out you are saying Christ wasn't born," said Wanda Jones, who opposes the name change.

"Because it gives it a more spunky feeling, you know. Everything else like that it might change a little different," said Tucker McDowell, who supports the name change. "It might bring more attraction."

In Lakeland, Fla., the disagreement over Christmas can be seen in local signs.

Resident Boyd Pridmore started making the reminders five years ago -- and now ships them all over the country.

"I wanted something real simple and real," Pridmore said. "I wanted it to have the whole message but to be short."

However, this year, a local atheist group is challenging Pridmore, posting signs celebrating a mythical figure from an eastern religion.

"Mithra had shepherds attend his birth," said Elle Beth Wachs, president of the Lakeland Chapter of the Atheists of Florida. "They brought presents. Mithra had 12 disciples."

A new poll out indicates a majority of Americans -- 69 percent -- prefer the greeting "Merry Christmas." Just 24 percent prefer "Happy Holidays."

Meanwhile, the Liberty Counsel, a Christian advocacy group, reported that major retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart have changed their policies and now allow employees to use the "Merry Christmas" when greeting customers.

Also, in New York City, there's a Christmas billboard battle going on.

Atheists have posted a message near the Lincoln Tunnel saying, "You know it's a myth. This season, celebrate reason!"

The Catholic League responded with its own billboard saying, "You know it's real. This season, celebrate Jesus."

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

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