News 12 @ 6 o'clock / Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014
HARLEM, Ga. (WRDW) -- Last week, the Born Again Independent Baptist Church in Harlem put up a sign reading "Santa is Satan."
Saturday they added more to the sign and it has had a lot of people talking.
News 12 attended that sermon Sunday and spoke to the pastor who posted the message, and why.
Santa is Satan. It's a message that many don't expect, but it's a statement Pastor Edward Carothers stands behind.
"We believe that Santa Claus is robbing Christ of his glory," the pastor said.
That's exactly what he preached today.
"We have come to the point where we have replaced Jesus Christ and his birthday with a fictitious character named 'Santa' and we have lifted him up instead of lifting up the savior," Carothers said.
His message went beyond his congregation when folks noticed their church sign and the reaction is not what Carothers expected.
"No, no, no. Not by a hundred miles. It's amazing to me that people would get this upset over a fictitious creature," he tells News 12.
He says it's not just about Santa though, it's about telling the truth.
"They grow up believing in Santa Claus, they grow up believing in the Tooth Fairy, they grow up believing in the Easter Bunny, they grow up in some homes believing in Jesus Christ. Well when they get older they find out the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus ain't real. So, what about this fourth person called Jesus?" he said.
He says the more attention Santa gets, the less people recognize the true meaning of the holidays.
"You look all over the country and people have Santa Claus and reindeer and everything else up but no Jesus," the pastor said.
So, he stands by his sign.
"As much as they're offended by me and my little sign those three letters that were put on my sign so am I offended by Jesus Christ being denied who he is on the day we celebrate his birth," Carothers said.
For the folks who have spoken out against him, he has a message.
"I want them to know that we believe in Jesus and we're going to lift up and magnify him on his birthday. It's his birthday. It's not Santa's birthday," he said.
There was some opposition at the church today as well. One man questioned the pastor and his message, but there were a lot more supporters of the message. The pastor's son even spoke up in defense of his father and the message he's preaching.