Did you know Christmas is illegal in Saudi Arabia? Celebrating Christmas there can get you ten years in jail. The country is the home of Mecca, the holy city at the center of Islam. It is also one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with massive oil and gas deposits. Many foreigners work there, including thousands of committed Christians, and the economy needs them.
During the first gulf war, American troops defended the Saudis against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army, and Christian chaplains led worship services. I think that was the first time that Christians worshiped legally and openly in Saudi Arabia. There are no reports of Jewish, Buddhist, or Hindu services. And now Christmas is illegal, and severely punished.
The tiny country of Brunei on the island of Borneo is more lenient. Celebrating Christmas will only get you five years.
Brunei has a population of less than half a million, and more than 30% of them are non-Muslim, but Muslim Sharia law has been imposed on everyone and it’s now illegal to wear a Santa Claus hat.
Brunei shares a land border with Malaysia, and East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo is home to many Christians. Malaysia has a history of restricting Christmas, but recently the focus has been on expanding the economy, and members of parliament made a point of wishing others a Merry Christmas.
The drive to ban Christmas may originate with Muslims, or possibly with others who want to accommodate minorities. In Italy, an accommodating principal banned Christmas in his school.
The nation was outraged, and even the Prime Minister denounced the principal, who resigned. In Germany, singing Christmas carols in public demonstrations is now a patriotic act.
So how should a Christian respond?
Clearly, banning Santa Claus hats makes the government of Brunei look ridiculous, and turns away financial investors. It’s a move that has no future. Younger generations will laugh.
Also, if Muslims are trying to conquer the world, they picked a strange target. My kids are grown up, and I wish I could get away from all this white stuff. If only I could afford a condo in Arizona, with palm trees. Don’t hate me, but we didn’t even put up a Christmas tree this year. My granddaughter is all excited though.
You can’t steal my Christmas, and don’t even think about making my little granddaughter unhappy.
Some Muslim extremists may be triumphalists, trying to impose their beliefs on us all, but I work in vocational education, where I meet many Muslim immigrants. They are all focused on getting a good job and prospering. It’s rare to meet any who prays in a Mosque, and I never see a Koran.
OK, one cab driver in Fort McMurray showed me a Koran. He thought I was a religious Christian and an ally, so he talked about God.
The god of this world is conquering us all, and religion just gets in the way. I am sure some Muslims take their kids to the mall to see Santa.
At high levels, there are struggles for political power bases, so now a Santa Claus hat is illegal in Brunei. Below that surface is the human race, with its eternal hunger for God the creator. No argument has ever changed that condition.
In my city, I have heard Muslims thank Christians who talked to them about God in public places. More than once, Muslims have attended my Bible study group in a Pentecostal church. We didn’t ask questions, we just told them about Jesus and they thanked us.
Jesus did tell us to lift up our eyes, or look beyond the nonsense on the surface. Reality has not changed.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest ‘? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal. (John 4: 34 to 36)