Majority OK With Public Nativity Scenes

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

An overwhelming majority of Americans supports allowing nativity scenes on public property. However, a smaller number — but still a clear majority — thinks if Christian holiday symbols are placed on public property that other religious symbols, such as a Jewish menorah (search), must also be displayed.

The latest FOX News poll finds that fully 87 percent of Americans say nativity scenes should be allowed on public property and only nine percent disagree. The poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, also finds 61 percent believe that if Christmas symbols are displayed that symbols from other religions should also be included. Less than a third of Americans (28 percent) approve of displaying Christian symbols on public property without recognizing other religions.

Almost all Americans celebrate Christmas (96 percent), while five percent say they celebrate Hanukkah and two percent the December holiday of Kwanzaa (search) (multiple responses were accepted).

Resisting the temptation to overindulge in holiday cookies and candy can be a challenge. Four in 10 Americans (41 percent) say they will not even try to resist and plan to "eat and drink whatever" they want during the holidays, while half say they plan to try to eat healthy, "but enjoy some holiday treats." Only seven percent plan to "completely stick to the diet."

About one in five expect to gain a couple of pounds over the holidays, and 26 percent say they will probably put on three to five pounds. More than four in 10 (44 percent) optimistically say they will not gain any weight this holiday season.

"Since between 10 and 20 percent of Americans say they are on some form of the Atkins diet at any one time, indulgence may cause more weight gain this year than in previous years," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Many people may not realize that if they break the metabolic rules of the Atkins diet, they have to start all over. If they mix Atkins with holiday cheating, they'll really gain weight."

The Santa Rating on Bush: More Say 'Nice' Than 'Naughty'

More Americans think President George W. Bush will be rated "nice" rather than "naughty" on Santa's list this year. However many more people think they personally will make the "nice" list than think the president will. In addition, the public is divided on which president would make a better Santa Claus — Bush or former President Bill Clinton.

Almost three-quarters of Americans (73 percent) think they deserve to make Santa's nice list, with only 12 percent saying they were naughty this year, according to the latest FOX News national poll conducted December 3-4 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search).

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to think they were nice (81 percent and 68 percent), and conversely Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to say they will be on the naughty list this year (17 percent and eight percent respectively).

Under half of the public (46 percent) think Bush will be rated as nice on Santa's list, while almost a third (31 percent) think he will be marked as naughty. There are predictable partisan differences, with 75 percent of Republicans rating Bush as nice compared to 25 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of independents. A gender gap is also evident, as men are 13 percentage points more likely than women to say Bush will make the "nice" list.

Slightly more Americans think former President Bill Clinton would make a better Santa Claus than think Bush would (41 percent to 37 percent). Republicans and Democrats are about equally likely to pick their political party's contender, with independents splitting right down the middle (38 percent Bush and 37 percent Clinton).

Polling was conducted by telephone December 3-4, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.

1. Which of these late December holidays do you celebrate? (Multiple responses allowed)

2. Around this time of year, there is talk about whether holiday decorations on public property should include a nativity scene. Some say nativity scenes should not be on public property because this violates the separation of church and state. Others say it is acceptable for nativity scenes to be on public property because they are part of the historical celebration of Christmas. What is your view — should nativity scenes be allowed on public property, or not?

3. If Christmas nativity scenes are placed on public property, do you think a Jewish holiday symbol, such as a menorah, and other religious symbols must also be displayed or can Christmas decorations be displayed even if symbols from other religions are not?

4. If schools in the United States recognize the Christian holiday of Christmas, should they also be required to recognize the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa?

5. If schools in the United States recognize the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa or the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, should they also be required to recognize the Christian holiday of Christmas?

6. Do you think it would be a good idea or a bad idea to ban all religious holidays from schools in the United States?

7. How do you think Santa Claus will rate President Bush on his list this year - naughty or nice?

8. How do you think Santa Claus will rate you on his list this year - naughty or nice?

9. Do you think George W. Bush or Bill Clinton would make a better Santa Claus?

10. This holiday season, will you:

11. How many pounds do you think you’ll gain over the holiday season?
SCALE: 1. None/zero, 2. 1-2, 3. 3-5, 4. 6-10, 5. 11-15, 6. 16-20, 7. (Not sure/refused)