Christmas depends on the definition of “religious”

At least in terms of how people want to celebrate it. Statistics from a USA Today/Gallup survey and one by Lifeway uncover what people think about the meaning of Christmas and its traditions.

while most call this a holy day that is primarily religious, their actions say otherwise. Many skip church, omit Jesus and zero in on the egg nog.

LifeWay’s survey of 2,110 adults found 74% called Christmas “primarily” religious. And a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,000 adults found 51% say, for them, it’s “strongly religious,” up from 40% in 1989.

But what does “religious” mean? Not so much for a significant number of Americans, the data indicate. Most surveyed said they will give gifts (89%), dine with family or friends (86%), put up a Christmas tree (80%) and play holiday music (79%).

The percentages plummet when it comes to religious activities:

• 58% say they “encourage belief in Jesus Christ as savior.”

• 47% attend church Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

• 34% watch “biblical Christmas movies.”

• 28% read or tell the Christmas story from the Bible.

I know I’d rather hear the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer over this story where Santa cries because kids aren’t learning the right stuff about Jesus when they decorate their trees.

“It’s alarming to me that while nine in 10 celebrate Christmas, only six in 10 encourage any belief in the source of Christmas and only three in 10 actually read the story of Christmas,” Stetzer says.

I’d like to see Christians embrace the pagan sources of the rituals that surround this particular day on the calendar and explain to their kids how everything was stolen and rebranded to make it all their own and how the truth of that manages to be avoided year after year to justify all the other things they want to believe are true about the bible.

John Lindell — lead pastor of James River Assembly in Ozark, Mo., where 12,000 are likely to attend Christmas worship this week — is not as alarmed by the gap. Instead, he sees an open path to outreach.

He could also choose to accept the fact that people are allowed to be different and that not everyone is going to want to think the same way or believe the same things. Some people are actually going to want to scrap the mythologies and fables and be glad they did it.

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