Will Belief in Santa Lead to Atheism?


Here’s a useful article for the Christmas season by Dennis Prager, a syndicated columnist, talk show radio host and observant Jew.

Every year, during Christmas week on my radio show, I devote an hour to defending Santa Claus. It may seem odd that I have to, but many parents in homes that celebrate Christmas have misgivings about allowing their children to believe in Santa. Their arguments against Santa go as follows:

1. Christian children should be taught to focus solely on the religious meaning of Christmas, and Santa Claus detracts from that.

2. It is hypocritical, if not dishonest, of parents to allow children to believe in something the parents know to be untrue.

3. Once children realize Santa doesn’t exist, they will question everything else they were told to believe in, including God. If Santa turns out to be make-believe, maybe God is, too. (Read the rest by clicking here.)


  1. I’ve witnessed to an atheist who claimed his belief in God ended when he realized his parent’s lied to him about Santa Claus. And in my own life, when I found out the truth I questioned everything I was told too, including God. Why replace the TRUTH (Jesus) with a LIE (Santa)? Why lie to children when you tell them not to lie to you? Why give Santa attributes of God (like omniscience) and grant him the authority to judge your child (naughty or nice) AND reward a child who knows he was “naughty”? And then wonder why you kids question God and don’t trust you?

    On a day set aside to Glorify Jesus, PLEASE don’t glorify a lie!!

  2. Dennis’ response, from the same article:

    It is pretty hard to imagine that anyone ever stopped believing in God solely because they discovered Santa Claus is a pretend character. You might as well argue that young people become atheists when they realize Barney isn’t really a dinosaur or that no duck talks. Only if you, the parent, believe that God is no more real than Santa will your child ever link the two.

  3. Also, I forgot to mention how my son gets ridiculed by the other kids this time of year at a “Christian” school because he doesn’t believe in Santa. The other “Christian” kids laugh at him and tell him he is “afraid of Santa Claus”. One child asked his dad about Santa Claus because my son Britt told him there was no such thing as Santa Claus. That dad told his son, “Britt’s dad is a liar”. Then he went to school and told my son I was liar. Ironic. Why lie to children then call the truthful parents liars?

    We celebrate the birth of a Savior, not a mystic fat man who rewards children with material things. How much do you have to hate your children to replace the Truth with a lie?

    As you can see, this is something that is VERY personal for me.

  4. I disagree. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in sharing the Law & the 10 Commandments it is that a lie is a lie, not matter when told, or what color. Parents should teach children to not lie, by not lying. Deliberately saying something that I know to be untrue is a lie. Sorry no Santa for me and my house.

  5. When my middle child came to me about Santa and asked me whether he was really real or not, I told her the truth and said that he wasn’t. She replied, “So, you tell me not to lie but then you lie to me” and she went to her room and cried. It broke my heart and I had no defense.

    The baby will get to enjoy Santa, but I will never tell her Santa is real. If my kids can enjoy Scooby Doo without thinking Scooby Doo is real, then why can’t they enjoy Santa without being told he is real?

    Christmas is about Jesus. Reindeer and Santa and Jack Frost and Frosty the Snowman can make it more enjoyable for a child. They have great imaginations and enjoy the fanciful. I think that is okay, but they should understand that stuff is make believe and Christ is real.

  6. I wrote my disagreement before these other replies. I was disagreeing with Dennis Prager, not this parent who was called a liar for not telling lies. Soon after I became born again, to make sure they understood that what I was telling about God & Jesus was really the truth, I apologized to my young sons for lying to them about Santa and the Tooth Fairy. I told them that neither was real but that God was very real. Fortunately they both repented and trusted in Christ not too much later. Coming “clean”, so to speak, I think helped them understand the changes in me were real and the Bible and the Lord could be trusted.

  7. First Steve, sorry I wrote a book here, but since I don’t do Santa with my kids, Dennis’ arguments (or very similar ones) have been used towards me and recently I have heard them from others I respect, so I have been thinking about this a lot and crafting a reply. You are the lucky recipient of the first rough rough draft 🙂

    If I were Jewish, Athiest, Agnostic or anything but Christian I think I would agree with every one of Dennis’ points (except the lying one). But since I am Christian I disagree with not only his arguments, but his whole premise.

    He takes on the subject to show that belief in Santa won’t make you an Athiest. But from a Christian standpoint, the anti Santa argument isn’t really about making someone an Athiest, it is about taking the focus off Jesus. To a Jew, wouldn’t Christmas just really be a secular Holiday since they don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah? From that standpoint, why not have Santa? Santa wouldn’t detract from anything.

    But as a Christian, here is why I disagree…

    I have heard many times that if telling your kids Santa was real is lying, then letting them think that Mickey Mouse or Barney was would be lying too. The difference I see is that I don’t know any parents who actively try to convince their children that Mickey Mouse is real, let alone that he knows how they behave and will bring them gifts if they are good.

    “Hey kids, there is a real mouse named Mickey who lives in a castle in Florida. If you are good when you put your finger on his scanner the gates will turn and he will let you into his kingdom and he will give you many magical presents. But if you are bad when you put your finger on the scanner the gates won’t turn and you won’t be allowed into his kingdom”. Yea right…, when was the last time you heard a parent actively try to convince their kid Mickey was real, I mean really really TRY to convince them?

    Barney would be even harder to make them believe he was real unless you didn’t ever let them watch the beginning of his show. Because as we all know “Barney is a dinosaur from our IMAGINATION”. I think that when parents ACTIVELY try to convince their kids that Santa is real (which I have heard MANY parents do), then that IS lying.

    Also, Mickey Mouse and Barney aren’t specific to Christmas. They are not brought in just for Christmas, and associated only with Christmas, like Santa is.

    I do agree that belief in Santa won’t make you an Atheist (but personally I don’t believe in Atheists). But I do know it felt like my parents lied to me when I found out that Santa and Company (Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny) weren’t real. It made me feel like my parents had lied to me and like the target of some mean long running joke. While it didn’t make me an Atheist, it did give me additional ammo in my mind to not believe in Jesus. What are the four main characters Christian parents have their kids believe in? Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Jesus. As you grow up you find out 3 out of the 4 aren’t real. My teachers and friends in school told me that Jesus isn’t real, so just more ammo to live to please myself. Just one more thing to use in my mind when my conscious started bothering me about something I had done. Not an Atheist, but an Agnostic with more excuses.

    Those are my secondary arguments, here are my primary ones…

    If you are not Christian, as Dennis is not, then there is no reason to cover these arguments and no real reason not to believe in Santa. But as Christians I think these points need to be considered.

    First, why do Santa anyway? Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Why introduce Santa in the first place? Does a Christian family really need Santa to enjoy Christmas? Let the world have Santa to have fun on Christmas, but let Christians have Christ! My kids look forward to Christmas as a celebration of the gift God gave us. They look forward to getting present as a reminder of that gift. I don’t think they enjoy Christmas any less for the lack of jolly old St. Nick.

    Second, let’s be honest, Santa is EVERYWHERE! On TV, in stores, in songs, in posters, etc., etc. Santa is going to bring your kids gifts! Santa knows just what they want. Santa has elves and flying reindeer and awesome cartoons and movies. Santa is AWESOME! If you let your kids believe in Santa, how is Santa NOT going to be foremost in their minds on Christmas. The Jesus story is neat, but Jesus isn’t going to fly to their house in a sled and leave them the Wii they want.

    Third, and most importantly, how about those gifts… Not only does Santa take the focus off God’s gift, he presents an exactly opposite gift and opposite message as Christ does! In one of the previous comments, someone already mentioned all the godlike qualities given to Santa, so I won’t bother here, but how about the gifts? God’s gift is a free gift! We can’t be good enough to earn it. We are all bad! But God loved us enough that while we were bad He still gave us His gift! Santa requires you to be good. If you are good you will get a gift. If you are bad you will not get a gift. So hey, if your kid gets a gift from Santa, they must be good! So not only does Santa distract from Christ on Christmas, but he present the exact opposite message of Chirst! The exact message that condemns people to Hell! “YOU MUST BE A GOOD PERSON to get the Christmas gift”. Of course every kid and almost every adult thinks they are good, so of course they will get a gift from Santa! Just pounding it into kids heads, more than it was already, that they are good. Just making it harder for us evangelists to show them that they are not good and need the gift God gave us in Jesus Christ to save them!

    Why as Christian parents would we want to do anything to distract from the message of Christmas and Jesus Christ? Let the unsaved have Santa. We Christians need to focus on Christ, especially in this world that does everything it can to take the focus off of Christ. If we are going to celebrate the birth of our Savior, why introduce a HUGE distraction with an opposite message? I think Santa is not only unnecessary, but dangerous and one more little thing Satan can use to distract from and drive people from the Savior.

    I plan on polishing and expanding on this in a future post on my (in the process of moving to a new server) blog ( Let me know what you think of the above arguments. It will help me greatly in my final product. Anyone can email me their comments at so you don’t fill up Steve’s blog with comments about this post (unless Steve says he wants it 🙂

  8. I have done an in depth mental study on the Santa Syndrome Phenomenon and Santa indeed causes atheism. Go to my web site at:
    W W W . SHOCKAWENOW . N E T For over 21 videos proving Santa really does cause atheism. – Shock

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