Atheist tells Christians in Tokoroa to do more to keep Christmas alive


An atheist is urging Christians to do more to keep Christmas alive in the South Waikato.

Tokoroa Christmas Parade coordinator Tony Williams said he’s disappointed by the lack of Christians supporting the annual Carols in the Park event, which coincides with the parade as part of the Tokoroa Big Weekend in December.

“I confess to being an atheist, but I will defend and promote their right to do something with their Christian festival,” he said.

“It is basically their celebration. If anyone … can get the churches to get their A into G and support Christmas, I very much would welcome it.”

The Anglican bishop of Taranaki and Waikato, Philip Richardson, commended Williams on his push to keep the Carols in the Park going and said it would be sad if it were cancelled.

Some believe the decrease in religious affiliation may be affecting support for celebrating Christmas in some communities.

Statistics New Zealand data from the 2001, 2006 and 2013 censuses shows a decline in people saying they are Christian and an increase in people saying they have no religion.

Richardson says there is a difference between cultural adherence – people who would call themselves Anglican due to their family history – and those who would say they attend church on a regular basis.

He says his church’s own data contradicts the census figures. It shows actual church attendance has increased by 7 percent over the past 10 years.

“What we know is that on the whole, our church attendances were declining, then plateaued and have now started to increase.”

He has seen a gradual increase in both regions in participation in traditional Christmas activities such as Christmas carols.

But he concedes it does vary from community to community.



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