December 23, 2018
By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Christmas remains wondrous, but it arrives at a difficult moment for Christianity in the United States.
We still see Christmas trees strapped to the tops of cars, neighbors lighting up their homes and kids getting as excited as ever. And the churches will be unusually full.
This last point is revealing: A relative decline of religious observance has brought forth the “Chreasters,” Christians who attend services only on Christmas and Easter.
Regular worshipers can be disdainful of the Chreasters. They make it hard for the loyalists to find seats in the pews and are, in a sense, free riding on those who, week in and week out, keep the institutions going.
The Chreasters’ participation on special days is often written off as little more than a gush of sentiment inspired by warm childhood memories or an affection for the Christmas story and the songs and ceremonies we have developed around it.
But these twice-a-year visitors deserve our attention and, I’d argue, our respect.
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