Religion Beat: Christmas Shopping for Evangelicals?
Sunday, November 21, 2004
This guest column is provided to us by Dale Carnast, Director of Religious Studies at Boston Harbor University.
Holiday shopping accounts for 25% of total retail sales
Why should I choose to do this article about evangelicals shopping for Christmas? There are estimates of between two million and one hundred million Evangelical Christians in America today. When you add to that the fact that Holiday shopping accounts for 25% of total retail sales, the dollars of Evangelicals may have a great deal of importance. The projections are not helpful. Deliotte Research is showing a 1% decline in projected holiday sales, while Forrester Research is predicting a 20% increase in online sales and a 4.5% increase in traditional retail.
The first thing that really creeps out Evangelicals is that Christmas in modern times has become not a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but the worship of commercialism. They resent the fact that those who have accepted Jesus into their heart could be treated as nothing more than consumers. Another thing that makes them nervous is the veneration of Santa Claus. Not only do they worry that Santa takes worship away from Christ, but by putting a mythical person on a pedestal, they worry that people that might still be saved will begin to wonder about whether Christ is a mythical figure as well.
the Rapture may come before Christmas
While the most important thing to an Evangelical is spreading the good word, the most important thing hanging over the heads of Evangelicals is the Rapture. Knowing that the Rapture can come at any time, many are aware that the Rapture may come before Christmas. Some ask themselves; why go shopping today if the rapture is coming tomorrow. Some wonder if it is worth the expense of buying gifts given the probability that they will rise on up to heaven before Christmas comes. Some are worried that they are not faithful enough, thus negating the importance of the gesture of giving in Christs name. Perhaps the greatest worry is that the unfaithful will be the only ones left to open the gifts.
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