Catholics defend Santa over blasphemy accusations
Santa is not a "blasphemous counterfeit" God drawing attention to himself, Victoria's Warrnambool Catholics said after a Christian pastor slammed Santa Claus as a distraction from the "true God".
The Warrnambool Standard reports that New Life Christian Church Pastor Steve McNeilly yesterday sparked debate and a sack of letters of protest after claiming in a local paper that Santa was a counterfeit God who only confused children and distracted them from the "true God".
"The Santa myth is a blasphemous counterfeit for God that draws the devotion of children to himself," he said.
Late yesterday Mr McNeilly stood by his view that it was important to be honest with children and consistent with Christian beliefs by not supporting the Santa fantasy.
But Fr John Fitzgerald from Warrnambool's St Joseph's Catholic Church said Santa had a special place with children and was a good way of teaching children the gift of giving.
"In the Christmas picture Santa is a giver and can teach us the importance to give oneself and our heart to our family," he said.
Father Fitzgerald said it was important to keep Santa separate from the real story of Christmas, however, he noted a connection between Santa and Christ. "Santa is seen to share and give as Christ himself does," he said.
Parents were shocked at the suggestion they were going to extraordinary lengths to deceive their children.
Mr McNeilly said people sometimes forgot that poorer families found Christmas a financial strain and could cause unnecessary self doubt to some children. "Some kids from poorer situations wonder why Santa doesn't love them as much as others on Christmas day," he said.
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Parents lash out at priest who told children there's no Santa Claus (CathNews, 22/11/04)
8 Dec 2006