Nativity

According to a series of articles in the Star Tribune begining in July 2018, mainline Christian churches are facing an unprecedented decline in both the number of churches in Minnesota and the number of active members.

In its stories, the Star Tribune quotes an 11.3 percent decline from 2000 to 2018, with a reduction in active churches to 639 and membership dropping to 1.2 million. It also quotes a survey that states about one in five Minnesotans claim to have no religious affiliation of any kind. In the U.S. overall, the statistics on the decline are even greater.

On the other hand, the website salatomatic.com, an online guide to mosques and Islamic schools, claims the growth of 46 mosques in the Twin Cities area. It also claims 30 additional prayer spaces and 135 restaurants and markets serving the increasing Islamic community of more than 150,000 people.

The impact of this block of voters has been very apparent in the recent election of Islamic candidates to local, federal and state positions. Worldwide statistics on the number of people claiming to be Christians is now about equal to the number claiming the Islamic faith as their religion.

Christians are likely to be a minority in the very near future, and since our laws are driven by a majority vote it could soon be illegal to discuss, promote or worship the Christian religion, as it is in those countries where non-Christian political leadership prevails.

As we enter this Christmas season, we find more pushback against the whole idea of Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit as a significant part of the Christmas celebration.

History tells us that the celebration of Christmas as the birth of our savior, Jesus, was initiated in the fourth century as Roman Christians appropriated the pagan festival of “Saturnalia” (Dec. 17-25) from the Roman worship of Saturn. This was found to be so distasteful to the Puritans in Massachusetts that a law banning the celebration of Christmas was passed in 1659 and remained on the books for over 20 years.

However, most Christians recognize Christmas as a legitimate celebration of the birth of Christ, no matter what time of year it actually occurred.

Today, we are still able to worship Christ’s birthday with only moderate objections by some people who think that all religious worship is “humbug” or those who actively oppose Christianity. I hope that we can keep this holiday as a celebration of Christ and not let it simply slip into a pagan commercial opportunity to have fun and buy gifts for ourselves.

Rather, let this be a time to give thanks to God for all the blessings which he has bestowed upon us and give back to those in need as we celebrate with our families.

Merry Christmas to all.

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