Majority of Americans Celebrate Christmas as Religious Holiday

About two thirds of Americans celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, a new survey reveals.

Meanwhile, 20 percent celebrate the event as a secular holiday, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Among those who celebrate Christmas, 72 percent say Jesus was born to a virgin and 81 percent believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent to die for our sins.

Christians believe Christmas is one of the most important days of the year because it celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, and those who celebrate Christmas overwhelmingly agree with the central tenets of the Christian faith associated with the holiday, the survey says.

While most Americans seem to affirm Christmas, a number of pastors believe Christians have lost the true meaning of the event.

Pastor Rick McKinley of Portland, Ore., says he's tired of "the monumental moment of Christmas, being ripped by the culture and people being absorbed by spending and chaos and really missing out together as a community on what it means to worship Jesus."

McKinley and two other pastors began a movement called Advent Conspiracy a few years ago to help redeem the Christmas story that they believe has been short sold to them by the culture. This year the movement has gone viral, catching national media attention and drawing the participation of over a thousand churches and more than 45,000 Facebook fans.

"The greatest thing about Christianity to a non-believer like myself is that, even after you strip away the more miraculous elements of the faith, you are left with a central figure in Jesus Christ, who preached love and forgiveness and charity and goodwill to his fellow man," one former Catholic and now professing atheist said in an e-mail to those behind the Advent Conspiracy movement. "At its best, Christianity is a religion about love and peace and I believe that message is all but lost among far too many of today's Christians,"

The movement was created by three pastors who simply wanted to challenge people to make Christmas personal again. They encourage people to enter into the Christmas story experientially by worshipping Jesus fully, spending less, giving more and loving all.

They also urge, "Don't make this a fad. Equip yourself."

While grateful for the wide attention, Advent Conspiracy creative director Tony Biaggne worries that people are being guilted into the movement.

"The last thing we want is for people to feel like they can't shop because their church or family member or friend told them it's not the [AC] way. Because that's not true," he said.

The [AC] way, he explained, simply is encouraging people to "do Christmas differently by worshipping Jesus first before anything else."

"Let's use this season to love one another well instead of making us-vs.-them statements," said Biaggne. "Let's put Jesus in front of us and let Him lead us into a life of joy and exhilaration to the point where we can barely catch our breath."

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