A viral video shows a man who identifies himself as a pastor yelling the truth about Santa as kids wait at a mall to pose for photos with a mall Santa.
The other day, I saw one of the most disgusting videos I’ve watched in quite a long time.
There was no blood, no gore. There was no violence.
What made the video so disgusting was a pastor deciding to interrupt a photo shoot with a mall Santa to make a spectacle of himself under the guise of trying to preach “Christ” in Christmas.
You can watch the video in the link above. I’m not even posting it here.
You see, I was raised in a religious family. But within that religious family was the notion of Santa Claus at Christmastime.
Santa Claus and Jesus Christ weren’t viewed as mutually exclusive. There was no notion that Jesus, whose birth was being celebrated, was somehow diminished by a kindly, good-spirited father figure who hoped to spread love to children by bringing them gifts just as the three wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus upon receiving news of His birth.
To put it another way, no one at my childhood church was seen as a heretic if they allowed their children to believe in Santa Claus until the children reached an age at which they came to understand that the spirit of giving was an important quality to have within themselves.
It gives children hope, my mom says. It lets them know someone is watching over them and that it’s a good spirit.
Santa Claus isn’t a replacement for God. But Santa could be used as a parable about God with respect to the notion that God provides blessings to the faithful.
But some church folk can’t see that. These are people who seem to see everything as a “threat” to God.
That’s what I’m guessing is the case about the street pastor in that video.
An Alaskan street preacher, driven by a philosophical beef with Santa Claus, invaded a Christmas village in Texas and tried to dash the holiday whimsy of children waiting to see old Saint Nick.
That’s a pretty good description of it, I think.
It’s one thing for a pastor to take the stage inside a church and editorialize on how Santa could represent some form of idolatry, which seems to be the source of his beef with Mr. Claus.
It’s a very different thing, however, when he goes to where parents are and, instead of trying to communicate a calm, rational message about the real meaning of Christmas, he begins yelling to kids that their parents are lying to them.
That isn’t his place.
And it’s certainly not the kind of tactic that’s going to endear church to those parents. If anything, it’s going to be a turnoff for those families. What’s worse, for families there who might be unchurched, all it will be in an incentive for them to not visit.
I’m reminded that this pastor may genuinely believe he’s doing what he’s called to do and is doing what God would want him to do in terms of trying to be a “fisher of men.” But the way he went about it was inappropriate: you don’t try to make a point about a loving God by trying to divide families through assertions that parents aren’t being honest with their own children.
I don’t think that’s what Jesus would have done.