Colonel Sanders saves Tokyo's Christmas

Come to think of it, Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken does look somewhat like Santa Claus. So, Japan can be forgiven for apparently confusing the Kentucky Colonel with Saint Nick. "Of all the odd mutations of American culture to be exported abroad, Japan’s KFC Christmas tradition may be one of the oddest," writes Molly Osberg. "This month, KFC Japan will bring in revenue up to ten times greater than what it earns during other months of the year."

Throughout Japan just for Christmas, "life-size Colonel Sanders statues—a staple in the country—are dressed in red attire and Santa hats."

Santa, of course, is one of the targets defended by Kirk Cameron in this Christmas season's surprise movie hit, "Saving Christmas." But fried chicken wasn't exactly on his mind. Cameron's focus was on defending the annual celebration of Christ's birth.

In Japan, only a tiny fraction of the population is Christian and the holiday is, as Osberg puts it, "a secular-slash-commercial affair" where "yuletide cheer goes hand in hand with a Christmas-branded bucket of chicken—or, as the Japanese call KFC, simply “Kentucky.”

Santa and Sanders seem to have become blurred together in the Land of the Rising Sun. "On Christmas Eve, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s lines snake down the block, and those unlucky enough not to pre-order their special chicken buckets a month in advance may have to go without KFC’s signature blend of 11 herbs and spices.

"And not having KFC on Christmas in Japan is a real bummer," writes Osberg. "In what appears to be one of the most successful fast food marketing campaigns of all time, KFC has for more than thirty years maintained a uniquely on-brand alternate history in Japan, one that makes fried chicken ubiquitous on the day of Jesus’ birth.

“The prevailing wisdom here is that Americans eat chicken on the 25th,” Osberg says that friend wrote from Tokyo last week. He said he has “blown countless Japanese minds” by suggesting that Western KFCs may even close on Christmas.

Apparently, the Japanese tradition began in 1974 when a clever marketer rolled out the “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (“Kentucky for Christmas!”) campaign in Japan.

"KFC’s spokespeople have told journalists that the idea for Japan's Kentucky Christmas was born when a Western visitor couldn’t find turkey on December 25th and visited a KFC for chicken instead," writes Osberg. "Legend has it that an enterprising franchise manager noticed and passed on the tip.

"The first Kentucky Christmas meal sold for a pricey $10 (almost $48 in 2014 money) and contained fried chicken and wine; now, KFC’s Japanese Christmas meals cost about $40 and come with champagne and cake.

Last year, Masao “Charlie” Watanabe, the president of KFC Japan, bought one of the Colonel’s signature white suits for $21,510 at an auction in Dallas and promptly tried it on. “Every child in Japan knows Colonel Sanders’ face and his uniform,” an ecstatic Watanabe told an AP reporter through a translator, posing in the baggy suit for a photograph and flashing a thumbs-up sign.

Osberg finds Japan's tradition ironic -- particularly since "after my family has unwrapped our gifts on Christmas morning, we’ll all head to Boston’s Chinatown" for a traditional Chinese buffet.

But as Kirk Cameron knows, the reason for the season remains the same ... regardless of the language or seasoning.

New York Times proves why "Saving Christmas" is important

The New York Times -- which is in the middle of laying off 100 staffers due to the public's growing disinterest in what the Times thinks -- made no effort to attract new Christian readers on Christmas Day. Instead, the nation's supposed "newspaper of record" sneered at the majority of Americans -- who tell pollsters they are believers -- on the very day celebrated nationwide as Jesus' birthday.

"Christmas Day on the New York Times opinion page meant two pro-athiest pieces, but no column to reflect the view of Christian believers on one of their two biggest holidays of the year," wrote Fred Lucas for the Blaze. 

The Times' snide attacks dispelled the Washington Post's recent back-handed proclamation: "Kirk Cameron can breathe easy: the War on Christmas is over. Jesus won."

Cameron, of course, ruffled liberal and atheist feathers with his politically incorrect "Saving Christmas" movie -- still in theaters weeks after its limited run was supposed to end ... amid unprecedented social media attacks by activist atheists.

So, the Post says the war on Christmas has been won by believers? New York Times Magazine food columnist Mark Bittman demonstrated otherwise on Christmas Day -- setting the Times' hostile tone with his "An Atheist’s Christmas Dream.“

“I’ve spent much of my life trying to ignore Christmas,” he wrote. “As a secular Jew, an atheist and a progressive, my reasons are common. It’s a commercial, obnoxious, even dreaded holiday. But it’s not changing anytime soon and we should make the best of it. (Hanukkah, I might note, is no better, although it gives us an excuse to eat latkes.)”

T. M. Luhrmann, a professor of anthropology at Stanford University, wrote "Religion Without God," praised the Unitarian Universalist church, whose statement of principles does not include God. “As it happens, this kind of God-neutral faith is growing rapidly, in many cases with even less role for God than among Unitarians,” Luhrmann explained.

She said part of the reason for going to church without a faith is for community.

“Religion is fundamentally a practice that helps people to look at the world as it is and yet to experience it — to some extent, in some way — as it should be,” she wrote. “Much of what people actually do in church — finding fellowship, celebrating birth and marriage, remembering those we have lost, affirming the values we cherish — can be accomplished with a sense of God as metaphor, as story, or even without any mention of God at all.”

Interestingly, as a majority of Americans celebrated Christmas with joy, fewer of them are reading the New York Times, writes Ken Kurson  of the New York Observer: "The Times is staring at an enormous shortfall—as much as $50 million, according to this source—that must be closed immediately.

And with drooping circulation and reduced advertising income, "that explains the draconian cuts of 100 journalists," writes Kerson. "As the New York Times prepares for the latest culling of the most talent-rich newsroom in America, the sad march has already begun. David Corcoran, a Times near-lifer who runs the beloved Science Times section, has reportedly accepted a buyout, as have legendary business reporters Floyd Norris and Bill Carter, labor reporter Steven Greenhouse, arts reporter Carol Vogel, staff editor Jack Bell, plus at least six photographers and picture editors."

Maybe the Times shouldn't be putting so much faith in atheists and Godless religion.

Chinese university denounces Christmas as 'kitsch,' foreign

A Chinese university did its best to keep students from celebrating Christmas.

The school in northwestern China denounced Christmas as "a 'kitsch' foreign celebration unbefitting of the country's own traditions," reports Reuters news agency. 

To make sure students didn't ignore the ban, the Modern College of Northwest University in Xian forced its students to spent Christmas Day watching Chinese Communist Party propaganda films.

It goes without saying those films did not include Kirk Cameron's "Saving Christmas." The movie has been a surprise hit throughout the United States this holiday season -- held over nationwide beyond its scheduled two-week limited run.

Preventing the spread of Christmas celebration was the intent of the Chinese school, which "strung up banners around the campus reading: 'Strive to be outstanding sons and daughters of China, oppose kitsch Western holidays' and 'Resist the expansion of Western culture,'" reported Reuters.

A state-run Chinese newspaper reported that students were warned they would be punished if they did not attend a mandatory three-hour screening of propaganda films with teachers standing guard to stop students from leaving.

"There's nothing we can do about it, we can't escape," the student was quoted as saying.

"An official microblog belonging to one of the university's Communist Party's committees posted comments calling for students not to 'fawn on foreigners' and pay more attention to China's holidays, like Spring Festival," reported Reuters.

"In recent years, more and more Chinese have started to attach importance to Western festivals," it wrote.

"In their eyes, the West is more developed than China, and they think that their holidays are more elegant than ours, even that Western festivals are very fashionable and China's traditional festivals are old fashioned."

Christmas is not a traditional festival in officially atheist China, however, it is growing in popularity, particularly in more metropolitan areas where a growing number of people are celebrating the holiday, giving gifts and decorating their homes.

"Western culture, particularly in the form of U.S. pop culture, is wildly popular with young, educated Chinese, which occasionally causes discomfort for the generally quite conservative ruling Communist Party," noted Reuters.

The Xian university isn't the only Chinese entity opposing Christmas. "Wenzhou, a city in the wealthy eastern province of Zhejiang, has banned all Christmas activities in schools and kindergartens, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Inspectors would make sure rules are enforced, it added," according to Reuters.

Was Santa Claus actually born in upstate New York?

As we all know, yes, there is a Santa Claus -- a historical St. Nick, that is -- none other than the great Christian forefather Nicolaus of Myra, Turkey. Moviemaker Kirk Cameron tells his story in "Saving Christmas," this year's surprise Yuletide hit. The film -- predictably denounced by critics, militant atheists and Scrooges nationwide -- has defied its detractors, being held over weeks after its scheduled two-week run, which had to be expanded to additional theaters.

Cameron tells how the true-life Kris Kringle has been revered for centuries for his generosity. What few people realize is that in the year 325, he was one of the bishops bold enough to answer the request of Roman Emperor Constantine and appear at the First Council of Nicaea where he was a staunch defender of the faith and one of the authors of what today is known as the Nicene Creed.

So, what about the claims of journalist Carl M. Cannon, the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics, who says today's jolly old elf was born in the city of Troy, New York?

"Christmas Week 2014 has been fraught with contention in New York, but before we blame the politicians," writes Cannon, "we’d do well to remember that it was in the pages of a New York newspaper that Santa Claus first appeared on these shores some three years before Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence."

What sort of secular revisionist history is this? Is Cannon serious? Yes, and he says Santa Claus was birthed by American politics. What?!?

It is "a matter of historical record that Americans owe their familiarity with St. Nicholas in part to the rivalry between Jefferson’s devotees and the Federalist Party," writes Cannon. It was "in 1823 that an anonymous poem appeared (yes, in a newspaper in New York state) that fleshed out the image of Santa Claus -- the 'right jolly old elf' -- whom children of all ages carry in their heads to this day."

Cannon correctly points out that until then, St. Nicholas had not been associated with reindeer or elves.

Then, Cannon notes that "writing under the satirical pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker," famed American  author, essayist, biographer, historian and diplomat Washington Irving, best remembered for his short stories "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," authored a 1809 satirical book that kicked off the American Santa phenomenon.

Irving called it A History of New-York From the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty. "Much of Washington Irving’s satire eluded the author’s audience," writes Cannon. "His readers were simply mesmerized by tales of a guardian saint named Nicholas, who is depicted shimmying down chimneys to give leave presents for children on Christmas Eve. Irving drew on the traditions of early Dutch settlers who had brought with them from Holland tales of 'Sinterklaas' and his sleigh," writes Cannon.

But that was just the beginning of the American version of St. Nick, continues Cannon. Flying reindeer "first make an appearance in 1821 in a volume titled The Children’s Friend, one of the first books published in America," writes Cannon. Then, two years later, "Orville L. Holley, editor of an upstate New York semi-weekly newspaper named the Troy Sentinel, published an anonymous poem titled 'A Visit From St. Nicholas.' You know it by another name, taken from the first line of the poem: '’Twas the Night Before Christmas.'

"Its author was later revealed to be Clement C. Moore, a local theologian and scholar."

Political cartoonist Thomas Nast illustrated the poem -- creating "the image of Saint Nick that dances in our heads to this day," writes Cannon:

His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!

And although Kirk Cameron is correct about the historic St. Nicholas, now you know -- as Paul Harvey used to say -- "the rest of the story."

Now this, just in from the atheists!

Nah, scoffs the Washington Post, there's no war on Christmas. It's all in the mind of well, you know ... "Kirk Cameron can breathe easy: the War on Christmas is over. Jesus won," writes the Post's Chris Ingraham. "That's the implication of a new Pew Research Center survey."

Conservatives such as Fox News talk-show hosts Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly have long warned of a “War on Christmas,” citing moves by retailers, public schools and local governments to remove references to Christmas from displays and celebrations.

But Cameron had nothing to worry about when he created this year's Yuletide hit, "Saving Christmas," writes the Post reporter.

Why not?

Well, Ingraham reasons that nearly three-quarters of Americans -- 73 percent -- believe that Jesus was literally born to a virgin, according to the Pew survey. "This is especially surprising when you consider that only one third of Americans say that the Bible is the word of God and should be understood literally.

"In other words, about 40 percent of Americans say the Bible should, in general, not be taken literally, but they nevertheless believe in the virgin birth. In addition, 81 percent say Jesus was laid in a manger, 75 percent say that the three wise men brought him gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh, and 74 percent say that his birth was announced by an angel to the shepherds."

"In all," writes Ingraham, "Pew reports that 65 percent of Americans believe all four key elements of the Christmas story are to be taken literally. This is more than the percentage who express confidence in evolution, global warming, or the efficacy of vaccines.

"Another sign that the War on Christmas is over: 72 percent of Americans say nativity scenes should be allowed on government property. 44 percent say nativity scenes should be allowed even if symbols from other religious faiths are prohibited. Only one in five Americans say nativity scenes shouldn't be allowed on government property at all.

"Or take this datapoint, from 2012: when asked whether they prefer 'Merry Christmas' or a generic holiday greeting, a plurality said it didn't matter. Among those with a preference, Americans preferred 'Merry Christmas' by a 4-to-1 margin. Even non-religious Americans prefer 'Merry Christmas' by nearly 3-to-1.

"So, looking at this data, it's hard to find a true War on Christmas," writes Ingraham, who in typical Washington Post tradition chose to ignore a news release delivered to its front desk that AtheistTV has unveiled its “War on Christmas” line-up on their little-viewed television channel.

The line-up features “original programs proclaiming the truth about Christmas on December 24 and December 25, featuring scholars and celebrities from the atheist community,” writes Valerie Richardson in the Washington Times.

“Christmas is hard for many atheists, so we will provide programming free from superstition and fairy tales that allows families to watch together and not worry about being preached at,” American Atheists President Dave Silverman said in a statement.

AtheistTV’s slate of “holiday-inspired specials” probably won’t make anyone forget “A Charlie Brown Christmas,”  notes Richardson. "They include a speech by Council for Secular Humanism Executive Director Tom Flynn and an episode of the atheist viewpoint titled, ‘Is Christmas a Religious Holiday?'”

There’s also the “Xmas 2009” episode of The Atheist Experience and episodes of The Atheist Voice with The Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta, according to the press release.

The AtheistTV channel was launched worldwide on July 29 and can be accessed via Roku set-top boxes or as a free online stream at www.atheists.tv, the release said.

And you thought your neighbor's Christmas display was over the top

Why do some people spend a small fortune decorating their home with Christmas lights? "Extravagant Christmas lights are part of a tradition that has been around in the UK for the last two decades," writes Tess Reidy in the British newspaper the Guardian.

In Queens, New York, retired firefighter Kevin Lynch covers his house and lawn with more than 300 giant plastic figures, 100 animated characters and 300,000 lights to entertain the masses. He even hired an electrician to install 30 outlets outside his house and on the roof, specifically to support his obsession.

Lynch told Daphne Sashin of CNN that the greatest part of his elaborate display is the people who come to see it. "The joy and the happiness it brings to little kids and adults is fantastic."

After 18 years of decorating, he has no plans to stop. "It's a tradition. If I don't put the lights up, I will have thousands of people ringing the bell thinking someone died."

It's exactly that kind of enthusiasm that Kirk Cameron applauds in this year's Yuletide cinematic hit "Saving Christmas." His film struck a nerve with movie-goers nationwide -- the movie had to be held over past its scheduled two-week run.

He applauds traditions that some Christians question. In San Francisco, vintage '50s and '60s elves, pixies and reindeer decorate Amalia Martinez's apartment.

"She and her fiance," writes Sashin, "have spent the past six years collecting dozens of classic Christmas decorations to dress up their abode, which they call 'Popville,' a reference to Andy Warhol's factory. The aluminum tree is illuminated by a bright rotating color wheel, and the big-eyed Blythe dolls get to have their very own tree."

In England, "for a brief period of December the A3, that great, dreary long road that goes from Portsmouth to London, becomes an intermittent bracelet of lights as people living on the busy road transform their houses into multicolored Christmas extravaganzas," writes Reidy. "Elsewhere, all over the country, suburban homes, discreet, grey and bleak for most of the year, suddenly stand out from the rest, with a facade of illuminations, Christmas messages, Santas and snowmen."

But in Pennsylvania, homeowners on Fairley Road in Ross Township complain that their neighbor, Bill Ansell, has taken the tradition too far.

He keeps up his lights year-round. However, he hates Christmas. His lights are designed to mock the season -- and annoy his neighbors.

“Any opportunity he has to make our life a hardship, he does,” resident Chris Hebda told ABC News' “20/20.”

“He's an angry person that's very unstable,” resident Pamela Heck told reporters Joseph Diaz and Alexa Valiente. 

Ansell's display includes a beheaded choir, a Mickey Mouse hanging from a noose and a urinating Santa Claus that lights up at night.

Hebda complains that his family has had to stare at the unpleasant decorations for the past six years. Fairley Road is a unique cul-de-sac; a circular street with Ansell's house right in the middle, surrounded by six other homes. That makes it hard to avoid his handiwork.

“There was a Virgin Mary here, and he placed a knife through her head, right there on the edge of our driveway,” Chris's wife Joanne Hebda told “20/20.” “I thought it was a terroristic threat.”

To make matters worse, his neighbors said, Ansell also tacked up profane signs all over his house attacking the township and neighbors personally.

The worst sign, the neighbors said, included disparaging remarks about neighbor Tom White's late wife, posted the day after she died.

“Why would somebody even do that?”

One sign on Ansell's home may offer a clue as to why. It says, “This display is dedicated to Ross Township. Shame on you for destroying my display that brought so much joy and happiness to so many people.”

Years ago, Ansell's home was known for its lustrous lights and dazzling display that attracted many onlookers.

But one Thanksgiving, Ansell's neighbor Pamela Heck was so blinded by the lights that she asked him to turn them off while her family had dinner.

“It was very unpleasant between us after that,” Heck told “20/20.”

From that minor dispute grew a war, according to neighbors. At night, they say he blasts floodlights into their windows.

Ansell wouldn't speak to “20/20,” but two years ago, he told Pittsburgh's WPXI-TV, “I used to have a beautiful Christmas display, they hated it. This is my display now. I don't think it's against the law to exercise your right to have your own display.”

In August 2014, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, upheld a court order requiring Bill Ansell to clean up his yard and take down the vulgar signs.

To date, Ansell has not complied and township officials won’t say if and how they will enforce the order.

The Hebdas said they have repeatedly complained to the township Board of Commissioners, but so far haven't seen anything done. The lack of action is what frustrates the neighbors most.

For years, Ross Township has fined Ansell for the debris and signs on his property. But, he has not paid any of those citations. There is currently a 6-month-old court order demanding that he clean up his yard, which he has also ignored.

The local government won't say how it will specifically enforce the rules, and the Hebdas aren't waiting around to find out and will be renting their home out for much less than it should be.

“It's a move for, you know, for our lives ... to have normalcy again,” Joanne Hebda said.

“I had to cash in my retirement. There's no hope here in some ways, and there's no one to help us,” said Chris Hebda.

England's Christmas is threatened by ... streakers?

Reverent Christmas observances in Britain  are increasingly the target of irreverent pranksters -- who are disrupting such solemn events as Midnight Mass.

"Priests are voicing growing fears," writes John Bingham for the Telegraph, "because of invasions by raucous drinkers and even streakers."

"Streaking in December in England?" asks  a staff writer at Healthista. "You have got to be bonkers."

American filmmaker Kirk Cameron examines a number of such threats in his film "Saving Christmas." The hit was held over beyond its scheduled limited run in a number of venues nationwide -- and new theaters were added -- despite a campaign by activist atheists to slur the movie. He says Christmas is also threatened by Christians in many cases -- believers who preach that celebrating Jesus' birth is sinful.

British clergy didn't blame atheists or fundamentalists.  Instead, drunks and exhibitionists were cited. A survey by the British Catholic magazine, the Tablet, discovered 50 venues where festivities have been scaled back or cancelled altogether due to disruptions in years past.

"Priests at more than 50 deaneries – groups of parishes – across England and Wales contacted this week confirmed," wrote the Tablet's Joanna Moorhead, Liz Dodd and Katherine Backler, "that there has been a decline in the number of churches offering a Mass that ushers in Christmas Day on the stroke of midnight.

"In some pastoral areas it will not be offered at all, while in many the first Mass of the nativity is now scheduled for as early as 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve."

Many priests reported problems with drunks infiltrating services that begin just as the pubs close.

Some congregations have been forced to boost security, effectively putting bouncers "at the doors to deter those overcome with festive excess from making unscheduled appearances," writes Bingham.

"Monsignor David Hogan, of St Bernadette’s, in Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough, estimated that less than a quarter of parishes in his area now offer mass at midnight on Christmas Eve.

“Last time we had it, we ended up with a drunk trying to get the doors off the church,” he told the Tablet.

“So we’ve made the decision not to have Mass when people are pouring out of the pubs sloshed.”

"One parish in York has brought the mass forward to 8 p.m. after last year’s service was interrupted by a streaker," writes Bingham.  "Meanwhile a church in Havant had to call police three times after drunken yobs threw bricks at worshipers during Christmas prayers.

But other churches are holding firm with tradition. Father Michael Marsden of Our Lady of Lourdes in Hessle, East Yorks, who will be presiding over the only midnight mass in his immediate area, said: “Going to midnight mass at Christmas used to be one of the hallmarks of being a Catholic, it is sad if that is changing.”

So, why would anybody be so determined to keep you from enjoying Christmas?

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Annually, they rage against Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus -- livid that they might be honored in school pageants, portrayed on the courthouse lawn or praised in public concerts. But why?

"Why do some atheists embarrass themselves year after year trying to eradicate Christmas from American culture?" asks Doug Giles for Clash Daily. "Is it because they are crusaders for equality, secularism’s saviors and humanism’s heroes? I’m sure that’s what they tell themselves when they’re pouting on their couches all alone on Christmas Eve after every single one of their friends has dumped them?"

"Why is Christmas such a big deal?" asks author Jerry Newcombe for the Christian Post. "Let's put it this way: why do groups like the ACLU, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State invest time, money and energy to fight any vestige of religious meaning to the holiday?"

"Why do some people hate Christmas today? Why is it that some people are aggressively opposed to the message of God becoming man?" writes Bruce Goettsche  on the Union Church website.

Well, this isn't exactly the first time in history that it's happened.

"In Matthew 2 we see the first example of this hostility," writes Goettsche. "The Magi arrived in Jerusalem and asked King Herod, 'Where is He who is born the King of the Jews?' Herod had already executed his favorite wife, her two sons, and one of his other sons. Herod was not a nice man!" Threatened that a new king had been born, he "gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under." He was enraged at the idea of God sending a deliverer, a Messiah -- particularly one that threatened his status.

And now, today, "people don’t like this message that they need a 'Savior,'” observes Goettsche. "They feel they are doing just fine on their own.  They don’t want to be told that their life is unacceptable before God.  They are offended by the truth. "

But it's that truth which must be proclaimed, says movie-maker and film star Kirk Cameron. His film "Saving Christmas" has touched a nerve in the American psyche this Yuletide. Scheduled for a short, two-week run in theaters nationwide, the film has been held over in major cities -- and expanded to even more cinemaplexes across America.

In it, Cameron, a frequent focus of irked atheists, says that Christmas is a wonderful time of the year in which we all pause to celebrate the birth of the King of kings, the savior who changed human history more than anyone else.

That message enrages atheists -- who have targeted Cameron for attack and mockery.

"The reason some rage," writes Newcombe, "is that they hate God and love their sin, and bringing up Jesus in December is not the way they wanted to finish off the year. Indeed, Christ really rains on their parade — and they love their parade."

"Christmas, if you really get down to the brass tacks of it," writes Giles, "isn’t about reindeer, elves and iPhones, but about mankind’s sin problem and what God did to remedy it by sending His Son.

"When you see the atheist attack manger scenes," notes author Janice Crouse, "you might think, 'this is an innocuous kind of thing. What do they have against a manger scene for crying out loud?'

"It gives you some idea of how powerful Jesus Christ is. If He were not powerful, what would they care?" writes  Newcombe.  "So why the opposition to Jesus, at Christmastime or otherwise? Jesus summed it up in one sentence: 'Light has come into the world, but men prefer darkness because their deeds are evil.'"

What if small towns fought back to save Christmas?

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Officials in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas are defying atheist grinches trying to shut down a Christmas display on the county courthouse lawn. Baxter County officials "rebuffed atheists’ efforts to seek the removal of a nativity scene from a courthouse lawn," reports Billy Hallowell for the Blaze.

And they're not the only ones. "Nativity scenes will appear in nine State Capitols this Christmas—five of them due to the work of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm," reports Tom Ciesielka for Charisma News. 

And of course, there's film and TV superstar Kirk Cameron, whose movie "Saving Christmas" expanded into more cities this weekend and is being held over past its planned two-week limited run nationwide. In it, the star of Fireproof and the original Left Behind films stands up with those who would attack any celebration of Christ's birth.

Standing up to out-of-town Scrooges, officials in rural Mountain Home, Arkansas, are telling complaining atheists to leave their creche alone. "The nativity scene," reports Hallowell, "is erected each year on the Baxter County Courthouse lawn  in memory of Coralee Faith Spencer, a deceased local woman."

Following court guidelines, the display includes secular elements as well, including a Santa Claus and a Christmas tree, the Associated Press reported.

And it includes a disclaimer proclaiming local citizens' right to express their religious beliefs: “During the Holiday Season," reads the plaque, "the County of Baxter salutes liberty. Let these festive lights and times remind us that we are keepers of the flame of liberty and our legacy of freedom. Whatever your religion or beliefs, enjoy the holidays. This display is owned and erected by private citizens of Baxter County.”

The American Humanist Association is livid and demanded the nativity scene be removed. Their protests have been ignored.

The county’s new resolution, which was adopted by all 11 quorum court members, cited a 1994 Supreme Court Case under which nativities are permitted so long as they include a disclaimer. Officials also noted that no public workers were involved in erecting, funding or taking down the Arkansas courthouse display.

Meanwhile in Chicago, Thomas More Society is celebrating the eighth year that statues of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus have resided in a small stable at the Illinois State Capitol. The Christian law firm has also helped secure permits for Nativity scenes to be displayed this year in the state capitols of Florida, Georgia, Rhode Island, Texas and on the Governor's Mansion lawn in Oklahoma.

"These Nativity displays represent classic free speech and the free exercise of faith by private citizens in the public square," explained Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society. "However, the issue has not been without controversy," he added. "Nativity displays represent a constitutionally protected expression by private citizens in traditional or designated public forums, where the sole role of the government must be that of a viewpoint-neutral gatekeeper assuring open access for all citizens to have their 'say.' Such private expressions of religious belief in the public squares of our nation are not merely tolerable but fully deserving of robust legal protection."

Kinda cool to know that lots of people are working together to save Christmas -- or at least preserve our right to celebrate it!

This is nuts! They thought what Christmas tradition was too religious?

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Of all the nutty reports we hear every Yuletide, this one cracked us up. "Officials at a Massachusetts elementary school have reportedly reversed course after considering canceling a trip to see 'The Nutcracker,'" writes Billy Hallowell of The Blaze.

Butler Elementary School in Belmont, Massachusetts, has long sent its second-grade students to see the Tchaikovsky children's ballet. However, that tradition came under fire amid local atheists' complaints over the musical presentation's religious themes, WHDH-TV reported.

It's one thing to have to come to the rescue of Christmas every year -- a task moviemaker and superstar Kirk Cameron has undertaken in his new film "Saving Christmas" showing nationwide -- but now we have to defend the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy?

What exactly is religious about "The Nutcracker?" As the curtain opens in the musical extravaganza, family and friends have gathered to decorate a beautiful Christmas tree. Darling kids are summoned  -- and stand in awe of the sparkling lights and decorations. But nothing religious has happened yet!

A party begins on stage and the young actors -- traditionally local amateurs in tights and tutus debuting with professional ballerinas and danseurs -- show off their dance moves, then march in step. Adults show off their toe-dancing skills and amid much music, presents are given out to the children. (Nothing religious yet!)

An owl-topped grandmother clock strikes eight and a mysterious toymaker shows up with four lifelike dolls who dance to the delight of all.

Sweet little Clara is delighted with the toymaker's wooden nutcracker. Naughty little boy Fritz breaks it. Clara is heartbroken. That night, she slips downstairs to check on it as the clock strikes midnight! Dancing mice fill the room. The Christmas tree grows to dizzying heights. A battle breaks out between gingerbread soldiers, dolls and mice. The nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince who leads Clara through a forest with dancing snowflakes. (Have you spotted anything religious yet?)

Enter a lot of dancing candy and waltzing flowers as Clara twirls happily with the prince before the curtain falls.

The play is a December tradition -- much like making a fuss over Christmas has become. That's so absurd, Cameron notes in "Saving Christmas" -- after all, this should be a wonderful time of celebration!

In Massachusetts, the bickering broke out after the school’s PTA debated canceling this year's field trip to watch the ballet -- after complaints about the ballet's religious messages. Parents supportive of the musical drama protested, baffled that anybody would confuse "The Nutcracker" with a nativity scene.

The emergency meeting was called, dramatic speeches were given. It was decided “The Nutcracker” will continue after all.

But nobody ever managed to explain what is religious about Tchaikovsky's magical ballet.