Dressing Like Jesus: Pastor Putting Christ Back in Christmas

This is a rush transcript from "America's News HQ," December 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GREGG JARRETT, HOST: People dressing as Jesus at their jobs, at the malls, even in restaurants. One Kansas pastor is trying to put Christ back into Christmas by encouraging church members to dress like Jesus in public. And some members are really getting into it.

They're not just wearing the flowing robes and thorny crowns. Some members are also growing beards and letting their hair hang long. Wow. Just like the '60s and '70s.

Joining us now, church member Sean Johnston and the man behind the movement, Kelly Lohrke, he's the senior pastor of Praise Chapel Christian Fellowship. Good to see you both.

Video: Watch Gregg Jarrett's interview


GREGG: Pastor, you think, as I understand it, that religious elements of Christmas are being removed from the public celebration. In what ways? Explain to me.

LOHRKE: Well, we see it every year, but this year, a couple of weeks ago, I happened to be watching the news. And I was actually watching FOX, and one of the stories that came out was the big Nativity scene there in Washington and the atheists putting their display next to the Nativity scene.

JARRETT: What is their display?

LOHRKE: Well, their display was pretty much, "God Doesn't Exist. It's a big myth," and kind of a mockery towards the birth of Christ and Christianity.


LOHRKE: And then after that, there was another story following out in Elkhorn, Colorado. An atheist group was putting billboards and signs saying, "There is no god. So just be good for goodness' sake. There is probably no heaven or hell, so just enjoy life."

And then reading another story there, another school district was saying they couldn't sing "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" ...

JARRETT: Right. Yes.

LOHRKE: ... because of one line, "on one foggy Christmas night," and on and on and on.


LOHRKE: And you know —

JARRETT: It is the now infamous secularization of Christmas. But Sean, let me go to you, because you're dressed up as Jesus. What kind of a reaction are you getting from folks and where have you been going dressed like that?

SEAN JOHNSTON, CHURCH MEMBER, PRAISE CHAPEL CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP: I'm very surprised about how much — how many positive responses I have been getting. I have been going, you know, everywhere in my daily - just wherever I go, to the mall, to the — you know, out to eat, auto store, gas station.

The most interesting story, I would say, though, when I was at the mall, Santa Claus asked me to come sit on his lap, and that was cool. When I sat on his lap, he his first reaction was, you know, "Thank you very much for representing what Christmas is all about." And then he told me that he was actually told that he is not supposed — Santa Claus is not supposed to say Merry Christmas.


JOHNSTON: You know, Christmas would not be here if it wasn't for the birth of Jesus. You know —

JARRETT: I think the folks at Rockefeller Center these days are calling it "the tree at Rockefeller Center" instead of the Christmas tree. It has gone a little bit crazy and overboard, hasn't it?

We're short on time, but I want to say many thanks. Best of luck to you and a Merry Christmas to Pastor Lohrke and Sean Johnston. Thank you very much.

LOHRKE: Merry Christmas to you, Gregg.

JOHNSTON: Merry Christmas.

JARRETT: Thank you.

LOHRKE: Bless you.

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