Some very unfestive findings over at USA Today.
Come-all-ye-partiers trumps OCome, All Ye Faithful for more than one in three people asked about their Christmas activities in a survey by LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based Christian research organization. "A lot of Americans celebrate Christmas like they participate in yoga: unaware and unconcerned about its religious roots," says Ed Stetzer, LifeWay president and a Southern Baptist pastor.
There are no statistics to prove whether LifeWay's snapshot of Christmas 2010 is part of a trend or a moment unique for its secular spin. But experts say it reveals several forces inflating a Santa balloon over the season:
•Blame the little kids. Although 37% say Christmas is more religious when children are present, 43% says it's less so. "That's not surprising when more people encourage belief in Santa Claus (38%) than tell the Gospel story (28%) that undergirds the whole of Christianity," Stetzer says.
So few people hear the Nativity story of the birth of a savior unless they see Peanuts character Linus recite Luke 2:8-14 inA Charlie Brown Christmas. "Sure, people will say Jesus is the reason for the season, but Thor is the reason the fifth day of the week is named Thursday. That doesn't mean I celebrate Thor. The fact is, people don't open the Gospel and read why Jesus came," Stetzer says.
•Blame the grown kids. Many Millennials, ages 18 to 29, have switched the lights off on the Nativity scene. More than half (56%) say their Christmas is "primarily" religious; three in four (74%) told LifeWay many of the things they enjoy this season "have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus."
"Christmas for them is just something you do because you're an American these days," says Drew Dyck, 33, who works in church ministry for Christianity Today International. He tracked Millennials in his new book,Generation Ex-Christian. If they come home Christmas week to more religious parents, Dyck says, "church is the first thing to go. Everyone thinks, 'Oh, why have that fight?' "