A pastor in Amarillo, Texas left a community in outrage after dressing up as the Grinch outside an elementary school and holding a sign which read “Santa is Fake, Jesus is Real.”
The Grinch, who goes by Pastor David Grisham when he’s not stealing Christmas, says he’s not sorry… but he understands why parents are mad at him.
"They’re upset because they’re prideful and don’t want to admit that lying to their child is wrong in spite of what God’s word says. They’re more concerned with the traditions of men rather than the truth."
Is Santa Sacrilegious?
Parents accused Grisham of ruining the ‘magic’ of Christmas for local kids (and one even accosted him on the street).
However, Grisham says that the Santa Claus story is not only a sin, it also obscures the true meaning of Christmas. "I’m not concerned about the 'magic' of Christmas but the MIRACLE of Christmas in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ," he retorted.
It’s a surprisingly common point of view in certain faith circles, so we decided to explore this phenomenon further.
Why exactly are some people of faith so opposed to the idea of Santa Claus?
The Sin of Telling Lies
The Christian argument against Santa Claus is robust, but perhaps the biggest aspect is the concern about misleading children.
Some churchgoers argue that telling children Santa Claus is real amounts to far more than a white lie.
Making the holiday season more magical for the little ones, they argue, is far outweighed by a greater truth: that spinning the story of Santa is a sin which makes a mockery of God.
Which begs the question: is lying for a “good” reason morally and biblically justifiable, even if the lie itself is not malicious?
Santa Claus's critics point out that the Bible is full of passages making clear that deception is a sin (Exodus 20:16, Psalm 101:7, Ephesians 4:25, 1 Peter 2:1–3, just to start).
As the argument goes, you wouldn’t make outlandish claims to an adult, so why is it okay to tell them to a child?
(Of course, there are those who still do believe in Santa – or in the power of his story, anyway – who might challenge the whole premise of that question).
Stealing Christmas Glory
Another common criticism: that telling children about Santa Claus robs Christ of His glory. For many Christian families, Santa becomes the star of the holidays, when it should be Jesus.
Tons of holiday activities involve Santa: from visits to the mall to sit on his lap, to leaving cookies out for him on Christmas Eve, to writing letters to him asking for gifts.
Critics argue that as a result, Santa Claus can end up taking center stage over Jesus, diluting the true religious meaning of the holiday.
Some people even assert that telling children about Santa could lead to them rejecting Jesus down the road.
Jesus, they say, could easily get lumped in with fictional characters like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, causing theological confusion.
You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Lie
Of course, many parents out there reading the above arguments might find them a little Draconian.
While Christmas remains an incredibly important religious holiday, it's no longer solely religious; it has also been adopted as a secular holiday over time.
Advocates for classic Christmas traditions insist that religious folks are making mountains out of molehills. They ask: at the end of the day, is Santa really pushing Jesus out of the spotlight?
The answer likely depends on how you view the reason for the season. If it’s purely to give glory to God, then you might agree that Santa is a no-go.
But if family and community are also worth celebrating during the holidays, then you might think that making the holidays a little more magical is worth a little white lie.
What do you think? Can Santa and Jesus coexist?