On December 2, 2014, Britain’s Evangelical Alliance examined a survey done by Netmums which found that the traditional nativity play is being rapidly replaced with secular themes:

Parenting website Netmums, who surveyed 2,000 parents, expressed concern that the traditional nativity scene is being modernised or traded for ‘winter celebrations’ and that religious figures are being replaced with characters such as Elvis Presley, spacemen, punk fairies and footballers. Christmas carols are often swapped for pop songs.

Netmums co-founder Siobhan Freegard said parents were concerned Christmas traditions were being sidelined and many schools have no presentation of the Christmas story at all.

This survey has been making the rounds in British media and reflects the sad state of affairs in our nation today.

To help educate children and adults about this feast day, the Evangelical Alliance, in association with the Church of England, the Bible Society and other religious organisations, is running a campaign called Christmas Starts with Christ. It has many useful resources.

Francis Goodwin heads the campaign. He says (emphasis mine):

The UK has become the most secular nation in the West as one of our surveys show that 51 per cent of adults did not think that the birth of Christ has any meaning for their Christmas; perhaps many of our teachers are among this 51 per cent. The time is overdue for Christians to remind the nation of the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

This is not new, and the Evangelical Alliance will be familiar with a BBC Christmas survey of children taken in 2006 (emphasis in the original):

Fewer than half of children aged seven to 11 think Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, a survey suggests.

Some 44% thought it was about Jesus, while 29% said it was about thinking of other people, and 24% said it was about giving rather than receiving gifts.

The Telegraph has more about the Netmums survey. Emphasis mine below:

Only a third of schools now stage a full traditional nativity complete with Mary and Joseph, inn-keepers, shepherds and magi, according to the survey.

Meanwhile one in eight [parents] had said their children’s school had dropped the Christmas story altogether for a modern alternative without religious references.

One in 14 said the school now opts for a fully secular event with neutral titles such as “Winter Celebration” or “Seasonal Play”.

A handful of those polled also said they had seen pan-religious school Christmas plays incorporating references to the Muslim festival Eid, the Jewish Hanukkah or Hindu Diwali.

Granted, it’s a small number and, yes, the traditional nativity play still edges out a syncretic play. Yet, it represents a slippery slope.

With Christmas break coming, let’s make sure our children understand the Christmas story. You can find more resources by church denomination here:

Advent resources for Catholics and Protestants

The short film in the Paperless Christmas link — The Adventures of Mary and Joseph — is particularly good!

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