A pastor made a scene on Friday by preaching about the falsehood of Santa Claus at a mall. He walked around the Santa exhibit, where kids and parents stood in line to see Santa, shouting that Santa isn’t real and that Christmas is about Jesus Christ.
“Folks, my name is Pastor David. Kids, I want to tell you today that there is no such thing as Santa Claus,” announced Pastor David Grisham, who identified himself with Last Frontier Evangelism. While that organization exists “to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Last Frontier (Alaska),” on its Facebook page, Grisham spoke to kids and adults at a mall in Amarillo, Texas.
“Santa Claus does not exist,” Grisham declared. “The Christmas season is about Jesus. Jesus was born 2,016 years ago. He was born in a manger, in a small town called Bethlehem, and that’s the truth about Christmas.”
The Last Frontier Facebook page describes the organization’s tactics for preaching the gospel: “Through street evangelism, street preaching & teaching calling on Lost to repent.” These methods were on full display in that Amarillo mall.
Grisham further declared, “The man you’re going to see today is just a man in a suit dressed up like Santa but Santa does not exist. Santa’s not real. And parents, y’all need to stop lying to your children and telling them that Santa Claus is real, when in fact he’s not.”
The pastor continued his tone-deaf sermon, explicitly condemning parents who build up the myth of Santa Claus in the minds of their children.
“When you substitute the lies of Santa Claus in the heart of your child for the truth of Jesus Christ, you are bearing false witness against God,” Grisham declared. “Don’t lie to your children and tell them there’s such a thing as Santa when you know in reality that there are no flying reindeer, there’s no workshop at the North Pole, there is [sic] no elves making toys, you buy all the gifts and put them under the tree, that’s all the truth.”
Naturally, parents became quite irate at this pastor. Cries of “That’s Enough!” “I’m a parent, that’s my choice,” and “Chill out!” greeted the street preacher.
“It is not your place to lie to your children,” Grisham responded aggressively. “Tell them the truth about Jesus Christ.” Each of his increasingly terse declarations was met with “Chill out!” and “Stop!” from a father who had left the line to silence his preaching.
At one point, the hapless father pushed Grisham, saying, “Go on!” At this point, the pastor replied indignantly, “Don’t put your hands on people, that’s assault.” The father replied, “That’s not your decision to tell my kids what’s the truth and what’s not.”
Next Page: Why Grisham is both right and wrong.
The pastor is, of course, correct in asserting that there is no Santa Claus and that the parents are lying to their children. He is also correct that Christmas is about Jesus Christ, not Santa.
But the parents are also correct to attack him for declaring this openly. Santa may not be real, but the tradition of Santa Claus does not detract from the Christian roots of the holiday — in fact, it contributes to the festivity.
Children associate Christmas with gifts and giving. They also see Santa as a source for those gifts. But when they do learn that Santa is not real (parents usually either tell their children this or grudgingly admit it when kids figure it out on their own), the kids still associate Christmas with giving. In fact, it is then that kids can learn the real reason for gifts at Christmas — the story of Jesus.
Not only did the wise men give gifts to the Christ child, but Jesus Himself is the ultimate gift from God — the presence of the omnipotent creator of the universe in human flesh. In Jesus Christ, God gave human beings a way to reconnect with Him after mankind had sinned. In Christian theology, Jesus saves men and women from their sins by dying on the cross and rising from the grave. This is the ultimate gift.
Futhermore, the myth of Santa Claus may make children curious about the real person behind the fairy tale. Saint Nicholas was a bishop who preached the gospel in Egypt, Israel, and Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). He was imprisoned for his faith by the Roman Emperor Diocletian but released by Constantine and attended the Council of Nicaea, a fundamental meeting of early Christians which produced the Nicene Creed.
The most legitimate criticism of the Santa myth is that it might give kids “trust issues.” By teaching children a falsehood early on, parents can confuse children and make them less likely to trust their parents.
The best way for parents to avoid this problem is to show children the roots of the Santa myth as soon as they learn it is not true. They will also see that traditions around Santa Claus — leaving milk and cookies out, giving gifts anonymously, and singing fun carols about him — add to the festive spirit of Christmas.
It is not Grisham’s place to spoil the fun of the Santa myth, even though it is not true. In American culture, it is the place of parents to tell their children Santa is not real. By taking this cultural tradition away from parents, Grisham is arguably leaving a sour taste of Christianity in the mouths of both parents and children. His preaching could do more harm than good to the message of Christ.
It is possible to share the Gospel around Christmas without spoiling the fun of Santa Claus. Grisham need not denounce the Santa myth to spread the positive message of God’s ultimate gift.
Watch the video of this street preacher on the next page.