Holiday Displays Fuel Legal Feud

You have to look pretty hard to even see what's at the center of this Christmas storm. It's on this a traffic island on the beach near Jacksonville, Fla.

For seven years, a Christmas tree has quietly marked the holiday season here.

But things got a lot louder this year. First a local Jewish group got permission to put a menorah alongside.

"We want to celebrate our holiday, this festival, in a public way," said Rabbi Nochum Kurinski. "In a way that people can participate in."

That "participation" prompted a protest, and eventually a federal lawsuit, after request to put up a nativity scene nearby was denied because officials worried it was "too religious" for public property and would violate court rulings on separation of church and state.

"For some folks it's time of celebration and family, and for others it's lawyers and judges," said Neptune Beach Mayor Dick Brown.

And, just like that, this small dispute was at the heart of a national debate.

But it's not so surprising when you consider that two Christian legal groups say they've signed up more than 1,500 lawyers specifically to find cases like these.

"A lot of us have said enough is enough," said Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel.

Staver heads a group leading a charge he calls a defense of Christmas against the politically correct.

"We believe it's the kind of religious confusion or discrimination that happens 365 days a year, that escalates during December," Staver said. "We need to draw a line in the sand."

The fighting over just how much "Christ" should be in "Christmas" is flaring up all over.

First Wal-Mart was targeted for a boycott, after the giant retailer replaced "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" on store signs.

Then the White House angered conservative Christians with similar wording on its holiday card.

In Denver, officials gave in to public pressure and allowed a Nativity-themed parade float.

In the end, the beachside nativity was allowed to go up, settling this small dispute, but doesn't resolve the ongoing issue.

"We're fighting wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan," Rabbi Kurinsky said. "America as a culture has always fought for religious tolerance in every other part of the world. And sometimes it seems that the biggest battle for religious tolerance is here at home."

A battle at home, over of all things, peace on earth and good will toward men.