A new Christmas survey offers fresh insight on the perennial holiday debate over whether or not Christians should discourage belief in Santa Claus. Or rather, just how many Christians will pretend to receive visits from Santa this Christmas in the first place.
Pew Research Center finds that today less than one-third of white evangelicals (30%) pretend Santa visits their home on Christmas—roughly the same percentage as the general population (31%), as well both Americans who celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday (33%) and those who celebrate it as a cultural holiday (33%). By comparison, more than three-quarters of white evangelicals (77%) typically received "visits" from Santa as children.
However, white evangelicals are nearly twice as likely as black Protestants (17%) to pretend that Santa will visit their home. The percentages for other groups: Hispanic Catholics (53%), Catholics (40%), white Catholics (32%), white mainline (31%), unaffiliated (30%), and Protestants (28%). (Note: Pew does not calculate results for evangelicals across race or ethnicity.)
Meanwhile, only 13 percent of white evangelicals currently have a minor child who believes in Santa, while 17 percent say none of their minor children currently believe in Santa. (Only 30 percent of white evangelicals are currently parent or guardian of a minor child.)
CT previously explored why the historical Saint Nicholas—a social activist, businessman, and lawyer—is better than Santa.
Meanwhile, Pew's assessment of how the Christmas traditions of Americans today compare to years past did find that white evangelicals are more likely than the general population to do a number of Christmas activities, including:
- Attend a religious Christmas service (71% vs. 54%). By comparison, approximately the same percentage of white evangelicals (72%) attended Christmas services as children. And 36 percent of the general public say they typically attend religious services each week.
- Put up a Christmas tree (87% vs. 79%). CT has explored how a truly traditional Christmas tree would be unrecognizable—and flammable—as well as how the poinsettia may be the only Christmas plant actually rooted in pagan superstition.
- Send out Christmas or holiday cards (72% vs. 65%) and go caroling (22% vs. 16%).
- Believe Jesus was born of a virgin (97% vs. 73%). CT previously wrote about why it matters that "a real son of a real mother" did not have a human father.
CT noted a previous survey of Christmas practices by LifeWay Research. RNS/PRRI released a similar survey yesterday.
(Photo by Wonderlane/ Flickr)
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